The One Where We Complain About the Officiating

The Baltimore Referees defeated the Minnesota Vikings with a score of 29-26. - Larry French

It may not go down in history as the worst called game (it's not like it was a simultaneous catch, amiright Green Bay fans?), but yesterday's game against the Ravens wasn't without controversy.

I don't know about you, but I couldn't believe some of the officiating calls in yesterday's game.  Complaining about the refs is as common place as clouds in the sky when it comes to sports, but this week as fans of the Vikings we have some legitimate reasons to be upset.  By my count the refs botched not one, not two, but three calls in our snowy bount against the Ravens.

Allow me to sum-up using a cut and paste of the play-by-play from NFL.com.  In the first quarter after a 10-yard holding penalty:

1-20-MIN 20 (6:36) 32-T.Gerhart left guard to MIN 22 for 2 yards (32-J.Ihedigbo). FUMBLES (32-J.Ihedigbo), RECOVERED by BAL-26-M.Elam at MIN 25. 26-M.Elam to MIN 25 for no gain (71-P.Loadholt). The Replay Assistant challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was Upheld.

We watched the replay OVER and OVER in the live TV broadcast and it looked pretty clear that Toby's knee hit the turf snow well before the ball came out.  You can check out video of the play here.  The Ravens scored a TD 4 plays later.

There's no video of the other plays in question, but here are the play-by-plays from the 4th quarter:

1-20-BAL 46 (5:11) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass incomplete deep left to 14-M.Brown (36-R.Blanton). PENALTY on MIN-36-R.Blanton, Defensive Pass Interference, 37 yards, enforced at BAL 46 - No Play.

and

2-10-MIN 45 (:32) (No Huddle, Shotgun) 5-J.Flacco pass deep middle intended for 88-D.Pitta INTERCEPTED by 34-A.Sendejo at MIN 23. 34-A.Sendejo to MIN 27 for 4 yards. PENALTY on MIN-52-C.Greenway, Defensive Pass Interference, 18 yards, enforced at MIN 45 - No Play.

Both of those were questionable.  On the Robert Blanton play, his receiver wasn't even the primary target, but the Ravens receiver made a break on the ball and essentially plowed into Blanton, who was flagged for "impeding the route"...which wasn't even meant to go towards the ball anyway.  On the 2nd, it was pretty clear that Greenway was holding the receiver...before the ball was thrown.  But it wasn't pass interference, because the ball wasn't even in the air.  Both of those penalties advanced the Ravens significantly and those two drives both resulted in TDs (including a 2-point conversion).

In other words, all three calls contributed significantly in 22 of the Ravens 29 points that day.  It was enough that Leslie Frazier received a phone call from the league about it this morning.  From the Star Tribune:

Frazier declined to specify whether the NFL apologized for mistakes by referee Peter Morelli's crew, but he said "the fact that they called should give you an indication of how they felt about" the game.

And if you haven't heard by now, even Adrian Peterson got into the act, announcing his thoughts via twitter immediately after the game:


It doesn't do much to ease the pain of this loss, but it sure makes me wonder if the CBA the NFL signed with the refs last year will do enough to improve the quality of officiating.  According to this source, the refs will be getting a lot more money over the course of the next few years, and there was an option to make some of the refs full time beginning with this season.  But Ed Hochuli, one of the most famous refs in the NFL, earlier this year commented that making refs full-time won't improve the officiating, noting that many refs already work what is essentially full-time hours.

“I am a full-time official,” Hochuli said. “I’m as full-time as the coaches or the players or anybody could be. If they said, ‘Ed, you can’t be a lawyer anymore, you can only do this,’ there’s nothing else that I could do.”

I don't know what can be done, but what I do know is the current system has failed the Minnesota Vikings time and time again.  And Peter Morelli and his crew definitely failed us yesterday afternoon in a snowy Baltimore.

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