Ok, I'll admit it. There's a twisted part of me that loves complaining about the referees and my team getting screwed over. Maybe it's a result of being raised on 90's wrestling which raised the bar of officiating incompetency to new heights, but I'm always looking out for the zebra who's about to cheat my team. If Nick Folk had made that 56-yard field goal and ended the game in a legitimate fashion, I'd be spending my time lamenting the fact that this team went 1 for 12 on third down, or that Tom Brady threw an awful pick six. But not this week. This week, all the ugliness has been wiped away by a single yellow flag and the fraud who threw it on Sunday afternoon.
You see, Brady didn't lose that game. Neither did the defense. Not even Chris Jones who admitted to the "pushing" is to blame. My team has been vindicated. This one is on the refs.
As I mentioned in my last piece, I realize that refs will sometimes make mistakes. That doesn't stop me from complaining about it, but it's often not nearly as malicious or devious as I can make it out to be. However, what really makes this one stick in my craw is that the ref never needed to make any call at all on Sunday. This isn't the Tuck Rule where a decision about a fumble or incomplete pass needed to be made. This isn't even like Week 3 of last season and the Raven's "highly questionable" game-winning field goal. Again, whether I liked the outcome or not, the referee had to make a signal regarding that play. That kick was either good or wide. Maybe he chose the wrong signal, but at the end of the day, he's an imperfect being who was forced to make a call and he called it.
That flag at the end of the game wasn't made by a referee who needed to make a black and white judgement. That flag was thrown by a referee who intentionally inserted his will into the game to determine it's outcome. That single flag took a Patriots team with the ball on their own 45 yard line and probably a 70% chance to win, and forced them into a situation where they now would almost certainly lose. That flag didn't need to be thrown. It certainly wasn't when the Jets committed the exact same penalty a few minutes earlier.
I'm about to let this one go and move onto Miami. But before I do, let me shed one final bit of light onto this subject to make myself look less crazy. (I fully realize that I'm crazy when it comes to this stuff). Ready for it?
Bill Belichick actually talked about this call in a press conference on a Tuesday.
For those of you who know Belichick, you know that the last thing he wants to rehash with the press on a Monday is the prior game. He's all about keeping things as mundane as possible and looking towards the next challenge. So the fact that Belichick is still talking about this play on TUESDAY, is a clear indicator that he's fired up about this one. And you know what?
He should be.
We got hosed.