NFL Referees: Blowing The Whistle On Poor Officiating
Let's take a look at the call that has me pretty annoyed currently. Ben Roethlisberger throws a pass at his own 19-yard line that goes -1 yards and bounces off the hands of the intended receiver and hits the turf on the 18-yard line, well behind the line of scrimmage. It is clearly a fumble recovered by Denver, but play is then blown dead. The Steelers are going to get the ball back, despite a backwards pass that by all accounts was a fumble. Fox throws the red flag and challenges, and even the announcers sounded pretty confident that the Broncos will get this call, based on the rules and replay. And then, much like the worst call of the season in my opinion (the non-challengeable fumble on New York Giant's receiver Cruz against the Cardinals in week four of the season that may have cost the Cardinals a chance at the playoffs), the response of the challenge is "you can't challenge because I blew my whistle already."
Really? That's the excuse, and as fans we are supposed to just swallow this pill and like it? I am sorry, but I am calling shenanigans on that. Just because you blew the whistle doesn't mean the NFL rulebook gets tossed out the window. The rule is clear. If the ball is thrown behind the line of scrimmage it's a LIVE ball. If you can challenge a play, you can also say a referee made the wrong call and the whistle should not have been blown and based on the outcome of the play prior to the errant whistle, this is what would have and should have happened.
What blows my mind is the play has already taken place, it's not as if the whistle affected the decision of Ben Roethlisberger. The whistle came well after the throw and fumble. The excuse that the "whistle has already been blown" sounds more like an excuse to give the ball back to the Steelers in the 3rd quarter with PLENTY of time to come back down the field and make it a one possession game. And of course, what happened? The Steelers drove down field, scored a touchdown on that very possession, and then eventually tied the game and forced OT. Had it not been for an incredible catch and run by Thomas at the beginning of overtime, the Steelers could have won a game that they had no business even being in. Thankfully this year, we won't have to hear about a Steelers win that was based in terrible officiating, but had the Steelers won the toss in OT, and had they gotten the first chance to score, we could be looking at one of the worst travesties in post-season officiating.