The Denver Broncos were able to defeat the San Diego Chargers by a score of 24-17 and advance to face the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship. That may be the biggest headline after the conclusion of the game; however, another atrocious officiating mishap has once again found its way into the mix as well.
Once the pass fell incomplete and Welker got to his feet, he threw his hands up in disgust, seemingly looking for a pass interference call.
Well, he got it.
Roughly five seconds after the play ended, a yellow flag found its way onto the field. This began the confusion. Even former vice president of officiating and current Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira couldn't make sense of it:
Please don't ask me what is going on cuz I have no idea.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) January 13, 2014
After a brief official's huddle, pass interference was called on Chargers safety Marcus Gilchrist.
Looking at the replay, it appeared as though Welker and Gilchrist got their feet tangled up as the ball sailed overhead:
There are two things wrong with this.
First, the tangling of feet between a wide receiver and a defensive back is deemed incidental contact and is not a penalty. Second, the ball sailed well over the head of Welker to the point that it looked completely uncatchable.
The call was terrible, and it may have altered the outcome of this highly important game. Both of these teams' seasons were on the line here, and horrible officiating cannot be tolerated with so much at stake.
To make matters worse, the officiating crew had difficulty figuring out where to spot the ball after the penalty was enforced. Mike Pereira walked through the details on Twitter:
So here you go, they called DPI. The flag was thrown short of the spot. The supervisor called down to tell them it should be the 45. (cont)— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) January 13, 2014
They put it on the wrong 45 so he called down to tell them to move it to the other 45. Supervisor was communicating through the alternate.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) January 13, 2014
No way I could have made that up.— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) January 13, 2014
Unfortunately, this has been the way the season has gone for the NFL's referees.
After a brutal regular season and now a postseason chocked full of blatant errors, it is finally time for the league to take responsibility and make these officials accountable for their actions on the field.