Miscues: Did bad calls hamper the Detroit-Dallas game enough to expect a different outcome?

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

A lot of focus in the league this year is on the officials. While this is a recurring theme every season, from the fans’ perspectives, 2016 has shaped up to be a special brand of nonsense. From the non-call (or two) on Richard Sherman during the Buffalo game, to the immaculate deception in Cleveland, fans are angry on a weekly basis. Irrefutable or not, some of these are a travesty. So are they all truly bad calls or do we, as fans, have some growing up to do? The argument can be made for both. From a fan’s perspective, It’s hard to be objective.

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Constant rule changes hurt us all

The NFL has for several years decided to make changes to the rule book in the off-season. I don’t think there’s much logic in it, I doubt there are many people outside the rule-meetings that do. So we start the play with a neutral zone infraction, followed by offsides with a heaping scoop of illegal motion for dessert. It’s hard enough trying to remember one rule change, let alone a dozen a year. I got a headache trying to read the new eligible receiver rule, which is about the same as it was before. Referees have to learn and abide by these rules, every change, every year, whether we like it or not. The next time you want to throw your shoe at the TV hoping it somehow flies through and knocks out your favorite ref, keep in mind, every team gets away with one or two at some point.

The Refs Have Been Fair – Or Not

Fair is a matter of perception and the cameras perceive everything, the refs don’t. Some things seem so painfully obvious that we wonder how anyone with eyes could miss it. Monday night’s flag against A-Shawn Robinson for “slamming” Ezekiel Elliott to the ground was nothing short of ridiculous. That’s right, ridiculous. Elliott was placed on the ground with as much gentility as a 350 pound lineman could muster, but the flag was thrown and upheld. ESPN’s Sean McDonough said clearly as it happened, “that’s a joke”. Announcers are supposed to be impartial while calling a game but that call was too bad to let go. If the ref’s decision was slammed on national television, it’s pretty bad. Perhaps the most egregious mistake was the fumble non-recovery in the Browns game earlier this season. Haven’t the Browns been abused enough? Maybe my “immaculate deception” will catch on, seems fitting. Fair to say those were some crap calls. They’re not all crap though.

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Bad calls or misunderstandings?

Growing up in a football family teaches fans to hate the refs and everything they stand for. The game gets watered down with constant speculation and endless replays, it ruins our appreciation of the game and places doubt. Did it change the course of the game? Did it shift momentum? Could Detroit have regained focus if that flag was/wasn’t thrown? The truth is we’ll never know. And even more than that, it doesn’t matter. If a team gets derailed by one call, something else is wrong. @SideLionReport posted on Twitter during the game, “Folks, when your team is getting doubled up on the scoreboard and on YPA, at a -3 TO margin, nothing the refs do affect the outcome”. A lot of people might call baloney on that, or worse, bologna. But the analysis is correct and we’re stuck with human error. If it happens to lead your team to misfortune, it’s the way it is. Onward to next Sunday!

We’re fans, not officials

Is it crazy beating your head against a wall because one ref made one bad call? Not at all. That’s what fans do. Passions flare and emotions run high in the face of perceived injustice. But there are two ends of the bad-call spectrum. On one end, a one-off, someone forgets to throw an interference flag, a team scores a touchdown. The flip-side is a game like Monday night’s. A bad call against A’Shawn Robinson for (in the most liberal sense of the word) body-slamming the star RB, then the punter’s helmet to helmet hit on Andre Roberts during what could have been a successful or even a scoring punt return makes it hard to grin and bear it as a spectator. Understandable. Sometimes it seems downright deliberate. But there’s no hanging hats on could’ve.

Players – Don’t Try to help

With everything working against fans, managers, coaches, the last thing we need is our favorite player taking the ref’s side. Athletes are no less than super in their own right, they’re not paid those handsome salaries to be wall flowers. But come on. When you know you’re wrong, be wrong and don’t encourage bad officiating by making excuses.

Would the outcome be different?

Did bad calls hamper the Detroit-Dallas game? As a player, it depends on the side of the ball you were on, as a ref, maybe but it;s too late to change it now, and as a fan, definitely. It’s almost physically painful to watch our team go down in flames through what seems to be clearly no fault of their own. But to expect that our arm-chair quarterbacking can be matched by the poor guys chasing elite athletes up and down a field for 3 hours is kind of ridiculous. We can’t expect perfection from anyone, it’s a thankless job and someone has to do it. The last thing in the world this game needs is more criticism.

-Follow Me on Twitter @fandria7