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The 5 Worst Officiating Mistakes of the 2012 NFL Season (So Far)

New England Patriots v Baltimore Ravens
Patrick Smith, Getty Images

As you may have heard, hobos and miscreants are in charge of refereeing NFL games now! Or, rather, the NFL has decided to use high school referees as replacements while it negotiates with the actual referees’ union, which has led to the occasional minor controversy. And while Monday’s night’s disastrous ending to the Packers-Seahawks game is probably the pinnacle (or nadir) of this sad saga, there were already plenty of questionable, puzzling and downright infuriating officiating decisions leading up to it.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

Ogletree Slips on An Official’s Hat

This clip from the Week 3 clash between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave football fans a dose of some referee-style slapstick comedy. In NFL officiating parlance, a thrown hat signifies an ineligible receiver. The replacement official assessed the situation correctly, as Cowboys receiver Kevin Ogletree had indeed stepped out of bounds earlier in the play. However, his decision to toss his hat right into the path of a sprinting athlete was about as ill-advised as it gets. The hat may as well have been a banana peel, causing Ogletree to lose his footing and narrowly avoid a knee injury. NFL players deal with enough risks to their health without having to dodge errant hats.

Golden Tate Delivers Illegal Block, No Flag

Golden Tate’s first bout with replacement-referee controversy came during this Week 2 incident against the Dallas Cowboys. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had rolled to his left, with Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee in hot pursuit. Tate, who had been running a route downfield, delivered what is known as a “crackback” block, blindsiding a defenseless Lee in truly frightening scene. The Seahawks receiver celebrated his block as if he’d just won the Super Bowl, and escaped the situation without a flag of any kind. The illegal hit may have escaped the notice of the game’s officials, but the NFL later slapped Tate with a $21,000 fine.

Heyward-Bey Receives a Helmet-To-Helmet Hit

http://youtu.be/h-ljJ6wVSws

Between Golden Tate’s block on Sean Lee and this brutal helmet-to-helmet hit on Darrius Heyward-Bey, the replacement official’s incompetence is beginning to affect the health of the NFL’s players. The incident occurred during last Sunday’s game between the Oakland Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heyward-Bey was caught between a pair of Steelers defenders in the end zone, suffering a shot that knocked him out cold and caused him to severely strain his neck. Yet again, the game’s officials failed to acknowledge the illegal nature of the contact, although Steelers safety Ryan Mundy will likely face fines from the league.

Ravens/Patriots Game Ruined by Phantom Calls

http://youtu.be/1j8UTQm7ciM

By some measures, Week 3′s Sunday-night matchup between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens was one of the best games of the young 2012 season. Sadly, the inexperienced referees made so many incorrect calls that their errors overshadowed an excellent football performance.

Both the Ravens and Patriots were hit with a series of questionable pass-interference calls, interrupting the flow of the game and greatly affecting its outcome. By some estimates, as many as 50 percent of the game’s 24 flags should not have been assessed. The game ended on a debated field goal by Ravens kicker Jason Tucker, and while Bill Belichick was furious that they didn’t review it, the officials actually got that one right. Unfortunately, they got everything that led up to the play wrong.

‘Simultaneous Possession’

By now, you’ve likely seen this replay about a million times. On the last play of the Monday night’s game between the Seahawks and the Packers, quarterback Russell Wilson evaded a heavy Green Bay rush and launched a last-second pass into the end zone. Packers cornerback M.D. Jennings appeared to intercept the ball, which would have secured the victory.

Instead, the replacement refs awarded Seahawks receiver Golden Tate a touchdown by way of “simultaneous possession,” ignoring an obvious offensive pass interference call in the process. The Seahawks earned the win in what is already being described as one of, if not the, worst calls in NFL history. On the plus side, the inexcusable error will likely force the NFL to cave into the referee union’s demands and end this charade.

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