Roger Goodell Robs Packers
By Brian E. Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor
~I cannot defend these overmatched, under-trained replacement refs any longer.
It’s one thing to subject the fans to these comedy of errors. It’s another to the health of the players.
A common theme around the league these past few weeks has been chippiness. Some might even call it dirty.
These inexperienced and overwhelmed refs have missed more than their share of calls, understandingly. But what also has been happening is tempers have been flaring and players have been getting away with more cheap shots, and just more rough stuff after the whistle.
Heck, the Seahawks defensive back Brandon Browner even got away with dirty stuff before the whistle against Greg Jennings. Of course when Jennings defended himself, the referee also added a personal foul on Jennings. Had Jennings not done that, Browner would not have even been called for his blatant personal foul. He actually committed two of them on that play.
Fast forward to the last few minutes of the game.
The 49ers had a 3rd & 30, and Seattle QB Russ Wilson threw a deep ball along the left sideline to a well-covered Sidney Rice. Packer cornerback Sam Shields had what we call “textbook coverage”. Not only was the coverage perfect, Shields also played the ball perfectly. He turned and saw the ball coming, and he got both hands ready to go up and make the interception, which he is good at.
However, Rice put two hands into Shields back quickly, and went up for the ball. He also grabbed Shields facemask and tugged Shields head around. Rice made a nice play to prevent an interception, well worth an offensive pass interference (OPI) call.
Rice saw the flag and jogged by the young ref, and motioned and shouted to him that’s defensive pass interference. The ref bought it and called Shields for a penalty and erasing what would have been 2nd & 30. It was a terrible call, no getting around it.
ESPN’s Jon Gruden said “Green Bay’s going to have a hard time getting over this. IT was 1st & 30, and to call a terrible pass interference call on Sam Shields. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Everyone knows that M/D. Jennings is the one who caught the ball, that Golden Tate only got his arm on the ball but never actually had possession.
But what’s far worse is that Tate clearly got away with a game-ending penalty as the ball was coming down, when he took two hands and shoved Shields away in the back. Shields had perfect position again, and was rewarded by the refs stealing one from him, and this time the team.
Gruden, in the booth and watching several replays, said “Golden Tate gets away with one of the most blatant offensive pass interference calls I’ve ever seen.”
Gruden added “Too much at stake. Too much hard work. Tragic.”
NFL Network’s Heath Evans said “This game was taken from the Packers. They (refs, NFL) got it wrong.”
Troy Aikman called it a joke.
Radio play by play, and NFL Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts said that Tate never even had partial possession of the ball, but rather just grabbed Jennings arm on the way down.
What happened under the pile later should not matter when replay shows as clear as day that M.D. Jennings intercepted the ball.
T.J. Lang was not afraid to risk a fine from Goodell after the game. Packers Lang tweeted that the Packers were robbed “by the refs. Thanks NFL.”
Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez stayed up and watched: “I’ve been saying give the refs a break but that TD call was ridiculous. How do you miss that? Pop Warner refs would have gotten that right.”
Gruden said “There’s no way Green Bay should fly 6,000 miles home and lose a game like this. That’s what instant replay is for. I don’t like the way this game finished. I have a bad taste in my mouth.”
The fact of the matter is it was Roger Goodell and the NFL who allowed the game to get to this point. He talks about the “integrity of the game” when he’s handing out disciplinary action for violent and illegal hits (which is good, because there are a lot of dirty players).
But seeing the refs continue to butcher calls has cost the league a lot more credibility than the late hits on Favre did.
Tonight, it cost the Packers a very hard-earned, and important victory. That’s on Goodell.