Three weeks ago, the refs let Richard Sherman get away with another holding or pass interference penalty, this one on a crucial last minute play against Julio Jones and the Altanta Falcons. The Seahawks won 26-24. Those damn Cheathawks.
Two weeks ago, Seattle was penalized 10 times for 90 yards against the Arizona Cardinals and perhaps any call for or against them could have changed a 6-6 tie into a something-6 not-tie.
A week ago, the Seahawks were penalized 11 times for 76 yards compared to just two penalties for 10 yards on their opponents, the New Orleans Saints, who won 25-20 largely because of penalties not called on “pick plays” by the Saints. One of which went for a touchdown. Seattle fans knew now that the disparity could not be ignored: The NFL was definitely out to get the Seahawks.
One day ago, Richard Sherman was not flagged for potential crucial penalties at the end of both the first half and the game. Either of which could have definitely given the Buffalo Bills a win, or tie, or made it a different score than the 31-25 final in Seattle’s favor. The question isn’t whether or not Sherman should have been flagged though, the question is: if the Seahawks were the enemy of Roger Goodell and he’s sending marching orders to these part-time, presumably unhappy, underpaid and under-trained referees, then why didn’t they flag him anyway? They could have easily thrown a flag and justified it later. Or not justified it, it’s not like the NFL can do anything other than apologize with the realization that neither the coach, the team, the players, or even the refs will ultimately be satisfied. But they didn’t throw flags there, just like they didn’t throw a flag against Sherman in the Falcons game when they probably should have. (And of course, when they didn’t throw one on Jones for hands to the face earlier in the play.)
It’s because this is the best job they can do.
There is no bias. There is no conspiracy. Unless that conspiracy is that the league cares less about accurate rules-following on the field than you think they do. There needs to be more training. Refereeing needs to be a full-time job. Ed Hochuli should get to spend as many hours training his brain on the company dime as he does training his biceps.
The “proof” for many people was there in the flag disparity between the Seahawks and their opponents over the last few years, but proof is just as well served in the many, many examples of times that big penalties went in Seattle’s favor as well. The disparity is likely just a product of a team that has a poor offensive line, a jumpy defensive end named Michael Bennett, and a secondary trained to take chances and get as many advantages as they can in that legal five-yard area as they can, but sometimes that is a risk if you’ve misjudged the five yard space or put your hands where they aren’t allowed to go.
The refs don’t have anything against the Seahawks. The NFL has something against the refs.