The Chiefs, Rams, Bills and Panthers all lost Wild Card playoff games this weekend, but the biggest losers may have been the officials.
Criticism came from all circles, starting with Jeff Triplette’s work in the Titans 22-21 win over the Chiefs on Saturday. Here is what people were saying about NFL officials.
▪ Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk wrote a story with the headline: “NFL officiating not up to playoff standards, and other wild-card thoughts.”
“Do I need to re-hash the terrible job referee Jeff Triplette and his crew did to kick off the playoffs on Saturday afternoon?” Smith wrote. “Just read what former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira had to say. He called the officiating ‘horrible’ in that game.”
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Smith has an idea on fixing the problem.
“The solution is simple: Only the four best officials at each position should work the playoffs,” he wrote. “They should each work one wild-card game, then one divisional-round game. Then the two best should work the conference championships, and the best should work the Super Bowl. None of this ‘everyone gets a trophy’ style of officiating assignments for the 10th-best referee.”
▪ Speaking of Pereira, he tweeted this after the Chiefs game: “Horrible way to start the playoffs. I hate to say it but this was not a good performance by the crew. Teams and fans deserve better.”
▪ Cindy Boren of the Washington Post noted that NBC’s Al Michaels blasted the length of a replay challenge during the Falcons-Rams game, and she wrote about the officiating troubles from the Chiefs’ loss.
“Among Triplette’s transgressions was announcing that Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was an eligible receiver on his touchdown pass to himself because he was in the shotgun formation,” Boren wrote. “Actually, the pass had been touched by a defensive player, which made every player an eligible receiver.
“The crew also ruled that Mariota’s forward progress had been stopped when he fumbled after a hit by Derrick Johnson. Replays seemed to show otherwise. Another time, on a Titans first down, the ball was spotted wrongly, forcing a Titans challenge.
“All of that was enough to pull the conversation away from the game itself after a season in which officials struggled to parse and apply the catch rule. Replay review by suits in New York has brought the game to a halt as its purpose is subverted from simply trying to make calls correctly and fairly. This is no longer officiating, it’s litigating and no one wants that, especially in the NFL’s biggest games of the season.”
▪ Steven Ruiz of USA Today wrote a story about New Orleans’ 31-26 victory with the headline: “The refs thoroughly botched the end of the Panthers-Saints game.”
“The officiating crew, led by Tony Corrente, did not have a good showing on the final drive of the game and it could have been worse if the Saints sideline had not reminded assistant officials that a late intentional grounding call against the Panthers required a 10-second run-off, leaving Carolina with only 24 seconds to score,” Ruiz wrote.
▪ ESPN’s Kevin Seifert wrote that the officiating in the Chiefs game was not great but it wasn’t why the Titans won.
Seifert did question the non-fumble by Mariota when sacked by Johnson. That allowed the Titans to kick a field goal.
“It’s hard to say that a second-quarter field goal changed the outcome, even in a one-point game,” Seifert wrote. “But at the very least, I think the Chiefs were a victim of questionable judgment in that case. Let’s put it this way: If the same play happened 10 times, I would wager that at least nine referees would all consider it a fumble.
“When you combine those two plays with a fourth-quarter gaffe — when Triplette’s crew first ruled that Titans tailback Derrick Henry fumbled, and that the Chiefs’ Johnson returned it for a go-ahead touchdown — it’s hard to argue that the game was well-called. (Especially when you consider that it sure sounded like someone on the crew whistled Henry down before Johnson’s return.)
When Pereira describes officiating as ‘horrible,’ then you can feel certain that the performance fell well below NFL playoff standards.”