Make no mistake about it, officiating in the NFL has been poor for several years running, but it became a mainstay in 2018, highlighted by a game-changing no-call in the NFC Championship Game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams.
Late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman unloaded on Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis long before the ball arrived. Not only should it have been a pass interference, but an additional flag for a helmet-to-helmet hit should have been thrown.
The referees instead kept all of their yellow laundry in their respective pockets, the Saints were forced to settle for a field goal with plenty of time remaining on the clock instead of just a few second and the Rams would ultimately tie the game and win in overtime.
The NFL all but acknowledged the bad call however, fining Robey-Coleman $26,739 for an illegal hit earlier this week.
The frustration over the snafu was felt far beyond just the Saints’ locker-room as players around the league voiced their displeasure with the no-call and a season-long string of poor officiating.
At his first ever Pro Borl, Giants safety Michael Thomas spoke up and said he’d like to see some more accountability from the NFL and its officiating crews.
“Honestly, full speed, I was like, ‘He kind of got there early, but it was bang-bang,’” Thomas said via the Associated Press. “You slow it down, clearly he got there early. I was like, ‘Ohhh.’ It looked way worse when you slowed it down.
“We’ve been calling for — players, coaches, fans — for replays for pass interference calls anyway. There’s a bunch of times they throw it on DBs and we feel like we’re in great position. I think you just make all those major calls like that reviewable and just got from there.”
The Washington Post reports the league will discuss the possibility of making pass interference calls and non-calls reviewable during league meetings, but that’s been on the docket previously and dismissed.
Human error will always be a part of the game and that’s something most can accept, but as the instances of human error not only rise league-wide but actually begin to determine the outcome of games, it’s no longer acceptable and must be addressed by the NFL.