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Tuesday, November 23, 2004
by Frozen Tundran
The officiating has been pretty miserable NFL-wide all year. Significantly worse than last year from what I've seen. I suspect this has something to do with the NFL's decision to change the 5 yard rule and gave instructions to call it in hopes of opening up the passing game and avoid debacles like the Eagle and Colt recievers getting muggged all game like they were in both the AFC and NFC championship games last year.
I think some crews are showing their fervor for the new regime by picking another esoteric penalty and calling it all game, like the crew did in the Washington game with the illegal proceedure calls. I guess these refs figure if they're not making a call every third play or so the NFL will wonder what's wrong with them. As has been noted before, when more penalties are called the home team generally gets the benefit of the doubt which is why the Viking's fans are still snivelling about the game in Lambeau and have degenerated to arcane conspiracy theories to explain a loss where they were beaten convincingly most of the game, and why a number of Packers fans felt they were biased against the Pack last game.
The worst call (or non-call actually) I've seen all year didn't happen in a Packer game, it happened a couple Mondays ago in the Dallas/Eagles game. Dallas punted and the Eagle returner *clearly* fumbled very early in the return, and a Cowboy recovered while the reciever was gang-tackled someways upfield. The refs rushed in, unconcerned about trivialities like who had the ball, their palms just itching because they had penalties to call. Their moment in the spotlight wasn't going to be interupted by esoteric little irrelevancies like who deserved the ball, they weren't looking for that--it's their job to call penalties after all, isn't it? So the first words out of the mouth of the referee was "There is no fumble"--when quite clearly the returner lost it while running forward, as a matter of fact he kept going farther another five yards due to impetus and was smothered five yards downfield where they marked the ball, despite the fact the ball never even made it five yards close to the spot.
You see they had penalties to call, that's what they were concerned with, their only interest was whether they could call more than one on the same play--so they conferred to see how many notches they could add to the Yellow Menace, completely uninterested in the Cowboy who had the ball five yards behind the runner, and who'd had it for several seconds before the whistle was blown.
Has anyone ever seen as many games at this point in the season with multiple penalties on the same play? I've seen one with *three* penalties, and there's more off-setting penalty calls this year since the season sometime in the early eighties I think) where they changed the rules to hopefully prevent so many unfair offsetting calls. I watch about half of each week's games, this isn't a problem with just Packer games--it's NFL wide.