The National Football League referees have been known to make huge mistakes after penalizing a team. This doesn’t happen often — only during primetime games or a game between two powerhouse teams. Ever since the 2012 NFL referee lockout, these mistakes have occurred. Replacement officials that normally cover high school and Junior College games were filling in for the NFL refs.
In a Monday-night game on Sept. 24, 2012, between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, there was a blown call at the end of the game. Keep in mind the referee lockout was still intact. Seahawks quarterback, Russell Wilson, threw a desperation pass in the endzone as time expired. Seahawks receiver, Golden Tate, and Packers safety, M.D. Jennings, both jumped up and came down with the ball. The big question was who had possession? One official raised both hands up signaling Tate had possession for a touchdown and another official signaled Jennings had intercepted the ball for a touchback. After the play was reviewed, it was confirmed to be a touchdown, which sparked a media controversy.
The blown call on that game was right before Tate leapt in the air to catch the ball. He shoved Packers defender Nick Collins to the ground, which is considered offensive pass interference. The sideline official did not see Tate commit the penalty which could have won the game for Green Bay if it was called.
On Sept. 8, during the first week of the 2013 NFL season, a deadball foul was called in an afternoon game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. The foul occurred after Packers linebacker Clay Matthews was flagged for a late hit on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after he ran out of bounds. Then after the hit, Matthews was approached by 49ers Offensive Tackle Joe Staley who shoved Matthews, and both teams rushed to separate the two. Staley was penalized for shoving Matthews.
The head official ruled both calls as deadball fouls which offset both penalties and replayed the third down. Since both fouls occurred after Kaepernick ran out of bounds two yards shy of the first down marker, the referee should have ruled it 4th down. So instead of kicking a field goal on what was supposed to be a 4th down, the 49ers took advantage of a blown call and scored on the replayed 3rd down. The blown call affected the outcome of the game as the 49ers went on to win 34-28.
The biggest recent blown call was made on a Monday Night Football game Nov. 18, in a powerhouse showdown as the Carolina Panthers hosted the New England Patriots. It came down to the last minute after Panthers quarterback Cam Newton lead his team down the field for what was the game-winning drive. But Newton left less than a minute on the clock for arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Brady drove down the field in less than one minute.
On the last play of the game, on second down and three yards to go, on Carolina’s 18 yard-line, Brady threw a pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski, but the pass was intercepted by Panthers safety Robert Lester in the endzone. One official threw a flag in the endzone making it seem like a possible pass interference call would be enforced. On the play, Panthers Linebacker Luke Kuechly, held and wrapped his arms around Gronkowski making it impossible to try an attempt to catch the ball. The ref picked up the flag and concluded there was no call for pass interference because the ball was uncatchable.
But how could the ball not be caught if Gronkowski was being held? If he’s not being held by Kuechly then he makes the catch and the Patriots win the game.
The NFL officials have a lot on their plate when it comes down to making the right call. But it seems they make the biggest mistakes when the game is on the line.