The National Football League has a major problem and it must be fixed now.
As the most popular of the major four sports in this country the NFL is a cash cow that rakes in billions of dollars in revenue each season and the teams, players and fans deserve better than the current state of officiating of games that is being delivered by the well paid members of the NFL officiating club.
On Sunday the Tennessee Titans led the visiting Oakland Raiders 21-17 late in the fourht quarter. With the Raiders facing a fourth and eight from the Titans 36 yard line, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr heaved a pass down the left sideline and into the endzone. the pass was inclomplete giving the Titans the football with just over one minute remaining on the clock.
It was an apparent win for the Titans, but hold the phone, a penalty moarker on the play gave the Raiders another opportunity.
Carr and the Raiders would make the most of their new life by scoring the game winning touchdown seconds later enroute to 24-17 win that left the Titans crushed once again. .
On Monday interim Titans head coach Mike Mularkey speaking during his weekly press conference as was asked about speaing with the NFL and what if anything the league might have said about the call in question.
"I did, yes I did. I vented my frustration over the call, or I should say, lack of calls. There was a false start to start the play on (Michael) Crabtree and then there was OPI (offensive pass interference) in the end zone on (Andre) Holmes on both of our defenders," said Mularkey . "So I vented my frustration about that and they said if you guys had any questions on that, call them. They said it was a poorly officiated play. It should’ve never even started. The play should have never started."
Not only was it likely a bad call on Webb, it was a play, as Mularkey said that never should have started.
Video clearly shows that Crabtree moved prior to the snap and was pointed out by Titans cornerback Perrish Cox who was in coverage on the receiver.
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The video also looks as if Webb did not hold Cooper on the play, but even if you allow for the penalty, the false start would have negated the start of the play- had it been called- and the Raiders would have then faced a fourth and 13. The Titans defense would still have had to get a stop on fourth down, but the officials would not have been called into question and had a hand in potentially changing the outcome of the game.
Just over 24 hours later another crew of NFL officials bungled another key late game situation that could have cost the Cleveland Browns a much needed win.
On the game's final play, the Baltimore Ravens blocked a potential Browns game winning field goal and returned it for a winning score of their own. However, still shots of the play show that the Ravens defensive end Anthony Levine lined up offsides before the snap. The play should have been stopped by a properly called penalty and the football moved five yards closer for a Browns field goal attempt.
However the call was not made and the Ravens won the game, albeit in controversial fashion.
That wasn't the only potential bad call on the game winning play.
On the return for the touchdown, still shots appear to show Baltimore's Will Hill stepped out of bounds which would have stopped the score and sent the game to overtime.
While both plays are judgement calls and one could also argue that the angles of the photos could show the alignments differently than they appeared to the officials on the field. still the quastions should be unacceptable from a league prospective.
These aren't the only questionable calls this season, there have been others. The problem does not seem to be going away and appears to be getting worse rather than better.
The league must do something now to correct the trend.
You might say that it's just the Titans and Browns and they are terrible so who cares that they lost one game, the've lost plenty others on their own. While true, those two games were important to the league's integrity and also because those two teams are currently competing for the first overall selection in next years draft. One win could mean the difference for either team;
Would anyone be saying this if one of those calls had cost the Patriots a game? I think not. There would have been a public cry from the mountain tops for justice.
The same should be the case here, and the NFL needs to do more than jsut admit plays were "poorly officiated" before this problem arises in the playoffs of Super Bowl 50.