Last weekend, the Browns were able to squeak out a 39-38 win over the Colts when Indianapolis was flagged for two key penalties on what turned out to be the game-winning drive for Cleveland. Following the questionable calls — an illegal contact call on Darrell Baker Jr. and then a defensive pass interference ruling on the Colts cornerback — the Browns wound up with the ball at the Colts’ 1-yard line with 33 seconds left in the game and were able to punch it in with Kareem Hunt to secure the win.
Following the game, Colts owner Jim Irsay said the NFL informed him that the league’s officials “did not make the correct calls.” Though the owners of the Rams did not reveal a similar admission, they were also victimized by the referees as a bad spot by officials on a fourth-and-one by the Steelers prevented Los Angeles from getting an opportunity to tie their game with Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Hours after the wins for the Browns and Steelers, the Dolphins and Eagles faced off in Week 7’s edition of Sunday Night Football in what was projected to be a matchup of Super Bowl contenders. The game did not really live up to the hype, partially because Miami was flagged 10 times for 70 yards, while the Eagles weren’t penalized at all as they rolled to a 31-17 win. Only once this century had there been an NFL game where one team was flagged 10 or more times and the other avoided penalties altogether, according to The Associated Press.
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“I’m very frustrated with the officiating in the NFL right now because they are determining way too many ball games and getting way too involved in the ball games,” five-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman said on FS1’s Undisputed on Monday. “They’re affecting ball games. This beautiful game we play is being ruined by things [bad calls] like this.”
Following all the criticism Week 7’s games generated for league officials, it’d stand to reason that the NFL would have its refs on their best behavior for the opening of Week 8 on Thursday Night Football. Unfortunately for fans of Tampa Bay, that was not the case as the Buccaneers dropped their third straight game in a 24-18 loss to the Bills that ended on a play that clearly should have drawn a penalty flag on Buffalo for pass interference.
Had the refs thrown a flag, which it is painfully obvious that they should have as Buffalo’s Terrel Bernard grabbed Tampa’s Chris Godwin twice, Taylor Rapp and Christian Benford both mugged Cade Otton and Mike Evans also appeared to be interfered with, the Bucs would have gotten the ball on the 1-yard line with a chance to tie the game with a touchdown and win it with the subsequent extra point. Instead, flags stayed in pockets and the Bills moved to 5-3 on the season while Tampa Bay fell to 3-4.
Four years ago during the 2019 season, the NFL permitted offensive and defensive pass interference, including non-calls, to be subject to review. That practice was trialed on a one-year trial basis but was not continued in future seasons.
They may want to re-think that.