Now that the NFL has finally come to an agreement with its regular referees, we can look back at some of the worst calls we've ever seen on the gridiron. Contrary to popular belief, those were not Footlocker employees running around the field with your favorite NFL teams, they were just inexperienced referees thrown in way over their heads. Leaving us to review the worst calls by the replacement NFL officials so far this season, if you can stomach it.
Do you remember the rules of addition and subtraction? Good, because the replacement officials did not. During a game between the Redskins and Bengals on September 23rd, a typical day of football turned into an SAT study course, and not a very effective one. After a 5-yard false start ruling was combined with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, the refs spotted the ball 25 yards back. Magic! It appears the extra five yards were pulled out of thin air.
Refs once again demonstrated their uncanny superpowers on September 16th when they called pass interference on Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, who did not even come close to touching Jets receiver Santonio Holmes. Due to the refs' extrasensory perception they knew that Taylor was thinking about interfering, even though he didn't. According to the film Minority Report, that's enough to be considered a crime.
With replacement refs come replacement rules. During a week one battle on September 9th between the Cardinals and Seahawks, Seattle coach Pete Carroll wasn't complaining about the officials decision to award him a fourth timeout. After a pinstriped discussion about the matter, the refs still didn't retract the additional timeout. There's an important lesson to be learned here, folks. Always stand by your core beliefs, no matter who disagrees.
Some of the questionable decisions by the replacement refs were real head scratchers. During a September 23rd matchup between the Cowboys and Bucs, Dallas wide receiver Kevin Ogletree quite literally lost his footing when he slipped on a referee's hat that was thrown into the endzone. An official is supposed to drop their hat on the field to signify that a player is no longer an eligible receiver, but a shot put style hat launch directly into the receiver's intended path was hard to fathom.
Timeouts were quite an obstacle for the replacement refs. While some coaches were granted extra timeouts, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh received an unsportsmanlike penalty while trying to call a timeout that he actually had during Baltimore's September 23rd bout against the Patriots. The refs were evidently too busy trying to spot the ball to have to also listen for timeouts. Multitasking isn't easy.
Dirty Bird--Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks--Week 2
Nobody enjoyed the replacement refs more than Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate. Prior to his involvement in one of the most controversial TD catches in NFL history, he got away with an illegal helmet-to-helmet block on September 16th during a game against the Cowboys. Tate left his feet and completely annihilated Dallas defensive player Sean Lee. Yes, a flag was thrown. However, the call was on a measly out of bounds push that actually went against Dallas. Now that hurts.
A Kick to the Heart--New England Patriots vs Baltimore Ravens--Week 3
The ability to review plays is an effective and necessary aspect of NFL games. It's even better when the referees remember that instant replay exists and is at their disposal. On September 23rd, when an end of regulation, game-winning Raven's field goal sailed awfully close to the right upright and put them ahead of the Patriots, the refs ruled the seemingly indecipherable kick good, without even reviewing it. They must have had early dinner reservations.
Challenging the Challenge Rule--San Francisco 49ers vs Minnesota Vikings--Week 3
The replacement refs could be so generous. On September 23rd during a game between Vikings and 49ers, they let 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh challenge a play despite not having any timeouts. But the goodhearted boys in black and white didn't stop the generosity there. Since Harbaugh won the illegal challenge, he was given back a mysterious timeout that he never had. Harbaugh proceeded to use his phantom timeout and again challenge a call after the fact. At least the refs were consistent with their calls.
Keep Your Head Up--Pittsburgh Steelers vs Oakland Raiders--Week 3
Use your head, refs! The players sure are. Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey found himself in a cozy hospital bed on September 23rd after receiving a clear helmet-to-helmet hit from Steelers safety Ryan Mundy. Safety is supposed to be the top priority in the NFL, yet the league left it up to the replacement zebras to make the obvious calls and prevent defenseless receivers from getting injured. Thanks to the no-call, Mundy, with the newfound freedom of a kid that got away with sneaking cookies before dinner, laid another illegal hit on tight end Brandon Myers, leaving another Raider concussed. Ouch.
Hail Mary Stirs up Hell--Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks--Week 3
The September 24th installment of Monday Night Football will live in infamy. It was only a matter of time before the replacement refs blew a game, and the Seahawk's last second victory over the Packers sealed the deal and left NFL fans across the country wondering if what they had just witnessed was football or a scripted reality show. Following a blatant offensive pass interference and an obvious Green Bay interception, the Seahawks were awarded a touchdown. The egregious game-costing call epitomized the woes of the referee lockout, and was surely the impetus for Roger Goodell to finally come to his senses and make a deal to save the integrity of the game.
Did we catch all the bad calls here? Was your team unfairly penalized as well? Let us know what you thought was the worst of the worst.