NFL Officials Have Run Out of Free Passes After Costing Packers Chance to Win

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NFL Officials Have Run Out of Free Passes After Costing Packers Chance to Win
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

NFL officials make mistakes—everyone makes mistakes. However, there comes a certain point in time where enough is enough. That time is now.

Recently, it has become common practice for officials to blow calls, make dumbfounding decisions and possibly alter the outcome of football games.

On Sunday, another major incident occurred.

In the waning seconds of a closely contested game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, umpire Undrey Wash may have cost the Packers a chance to come out victorious.

After a Steelers touchdown with 1:25 left in the game that put them up by a score of 38-31, the Packers were able to quickly drive down the field to the Pittsburgh 1-yard line with 20 seconds left on the clock.

Unfortunately for Green Bay, guard T.J. Lang jumped too quickly and was flagged for a false start. Because the Packers did not have any timeouts, a 10-second runoff was applied. This gave Green Bay a second down at the 6-yard line with 10 seconds remaining—enough to take two shots to the end zone.

Or is it?

By rule, the game clock starts once the ball is spotted, and the Packers lined up quickly. The goal here is to snap the ball immediately to get the most out of the remaining time. However, seven seconds ticked off the clock before quarterback Matt Flynn took the snap.

Well, that just doesn't make sense.

On Monday, the reason for this inexcusable action came to light.

Packers left guard Josh Sitton told Mike Spofford of Packers.com that Wash told center Evan Dietrich-Smith not to snap the ball:

We were all up, all set, and he came up and told Evan to take his hand off the ball. Then we all kind of got up, and then he wound the clock. I think we were ready, and I think that took a few more seconds than it should have.

Right tackle Don Barclay weighed in as well:

It’s tough. It hurts. Especially when you’re sitting there ready to snap the ball and the ref was over our center not letting us. I don’t know what reason. We probably could have had two plays off if we could have snapped the ball when we were over it.

As a result, a play was finally run with just three seconds left on the clock. By the time the pass fell incomplete, the final second had already elapsed and the Packers' chances of winning vanished.

The loss was brutal for Green Bay, as the chances of earning a playoff berth are fading quickly.

Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette tweeted Matt Flynn's comments regarding the situation:

The reasons for Wash telling Dietrich-Smith not to snap the ball remain unknown. However, one thing is for certain: The umpire's actions directly affected the end of the game. Sure, the outcome may have been the same even if Green Bay did run another play. But when it all comes down to it, the game was altered in a big way due to a poor decision by an official.

This is not the first time that we have witnessed poor officiating of this capacity in 2013.

Everyone is well aware of referee Jeff Triplette—the NFL's poster child for horrible officiating.

During a Week 13 contest between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins, he made a call that was completely befuddling.

With under two minutes left to play, the Redskins were driving down the field in an attempt to tie the game. A second-down reception that was seemingly short of the first-down marker was ruled a first down by Triplette.

One play later, after an incomplete deep pass, Triplette changed his mind and decided that the previous spot was wrong. He re-spotted the ball and told the Redskins offense that they were now dealing with a 4th-and-1, not a 2nd-and-10.

Washington turned the ball over on the next play and lost the game.

One week later, Triplette made another boneheaded call in a contest between the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts—a game with tremendous playoff implications.

Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was seemingly tripped up in the backfield, fell to the turf and scooted into the end zone. He was ruled down by contact. With less than two minutes remaining in the half, a booth review ensued.

Triplette decided that Green-Ellis had actually made his way to the end zone untouched. He overturned the ruling on the field and awarded the Bengals a touchdown.

Bleacher Report

There was no way that Triplette saw conclusive evidence that the running back had not been touched, and his decision to overturn the call seemed like a bad joke.

All right, one more example.

During a Week 16 game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks were attempting a game-tying drive with two minutes left.

Russell Wilson attempted a pass to Doug Baldwin that struck the turf in front of the wide receiver, bounced toward the middle of the field and was intercepted by Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby.

For some reason, the ruling on the field was an interception. That's fine. After all, the line judge may have not had a clear look at the play. However, what happened next was just inexplicable.

Referee Scott Green went under the hood to take a look at the play. It could not have been more clear that the ball contacted the ground before Dansby came away with the deflection. Well, Green did not see it that way.

The call stood and ended the Seahawks' chances of winning. In turn, Seattle's loss affected the possibility of clinching home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

These aforementioned examples are only a small sample size of the poor officiating that has taken place over the 2013 season.

With so many bad calls taking place, and so many games now affected by incompetence, it's time for commissioner Roger Goodell to take a stand and make the men in stripes accountable for their actions.

Whether suspensions, firings or fines are in order for these officials, something must happen immediately. If the NFL allows these transgressions to continue, we will be forced to watch the ongoing tarnishing of a highly celebrated game.

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