There is nothing worse in sports when poor officiating impacts the result of a game. It is magnified when it happens in a game that decides who plays for the championship. The NFL is dealing with just this problem tonight, as Pete Morrelli’s crew totally dropped the ball with their erroneous calls that led to a New Orleans Saints overtime victory and a spot in the Super Bowl.
During the overtime period, Morrelli’s crew had five erronous calls over a stretch of five plays where poor judgment was displayed, each time in favor of the Saints. The first error occurred on the spot of a Devery Henderson catch that gave the Saints about an extra half yard to the first down marker on third down. Despite clear evidence that it was a beneficial spot, backed up by Fox’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, the booth review didn’t change the spot.
On the very next play, fourth down, Pierre Thomas dive-bombed over top his line at what appeared to be a clear first down with forward momentum. Hold the phone.
Replays showed that Thomas lost secure control of the ball, meaning that forward momentum no longer applied. After a booth review, and again there is clear evidence that Thomas lost secure control, no change of spot occurred on the ball.
Now with a fresh set of downs thanks to the gratuitous nature of the officials, Brees drops back to pass. First, Minnesota Vikings DE Jared Allen is tackled from behind by Saints guard Jhari Evans. A textbook hold that they teach NFL officials the first day of training. No call.
To make matters worse, the referees decided to call a pass interference on the play against Ben Leber. First, Leber never even made physical contact with the intended receiver, David Thomas. Slow motion replay shows no contact occurred and Fox’s Aikman questioned whether contact was made. Second, the ball was overthrown by seven yards. Thomas turned to make the catch at the 30 yard line, the ball landed on the 23 yard line. This is what the rule book terms uncatchable.
After planting Reggie Bush into the ground for a 5 yard loss, the final nail was placed into the coffin by the referees. Brees delivers a pass over the middle to Robert Meachem. The pass was ruled a catch on the field. Clear replay evidence shows that Meachem never caught the ball, only trapped it against his leg before the ball touched the ground. Again textbook rule says no catch and once again, Fox’s Aikman says the pass should be ruled an incomplete pass.
Not today folks. Booth review rules that it was a catch, setting up the Saints for the game winning field goal that Garrett Hartley would knock down the middle.
Nothing disappoints fans more than watch athletes that give their all be robbed by officials. Even worse when it happens and decides who plays in the Super Bowl.
Obviously, Roger Goodell will be mum on this and support his officials. It would just be so politically incorrect to be mean to the people of New Orleans. They’ve suffered enough.
Congrats to the folks in the Big Easy on winning your first NFC Championship…asterisks and all.