Another Week, Another Step Back for Replacement Refs
I'm not going to sit here and jam more Golden Tate/MD Jennings touchdown/interception opinions in your face. If you haven't seen the replay a hundred times and heard everyone and their great grandmother's opinion on it, I think you might literally live under a rock. We all know, despite the league standing by the referees' decision, that was an interception. If you want to debate that, take it somewhere else.
That was just one of many terrible displays of officiating that the refs showed this past weekend. I'm on the record saying that I barely noticed the fact that the real refs weren't out there in Week 1. After Week 2, I said I noticed them making some bad calls and incorrectly assessing penalties, but I didn't think it was a huge deal. After Week 3, it is now becoming a huge deal.
Through the first two weeks of the season, the refs were letting defensive backs and receivers get very physical down the field - it was almost like they made the old hand-checking technique legal again. My best guess is that the NFL talked to the refs about this, and told them that they can't let players bump each other beyond five yards from the line of scrimmage, and to be sure they keep an eye on it. The result of that has been extraordinarily inconsistent calls. The first two weeks, receivers were getting mugged on every play - at least that was fair for both teams. Now there are plays where receivers get knocked out ten yards down the field and there's no call, then the ref will throw his flag for the lightest of contact on the very next play.
Jon Gruden said it best last night: "Pass interference should call itself." Especially with these inexperienced refs, if they have any uncertainty about a pass interference call, they just need to keep the flag in their pocket. Instead, we see plays like a perfectly timed pass breakup from Kam Chancellor - that should have ended Green Bay's potentially game winning drive - get penalized. It's one thing when the refs miss the same calls consistently, but when one play is called like UFC and the next is called like LeBron driving down the lane, it just screws up the whole game.