The NFL Playoffs begin in just a matter of hours, and the Seattle Seahawks are in at the expense of the Detroit Lions, who did Seattle a solid by beating the Green Bay Packers but could’ve been in the postseason themselves had Seattle lost to the Los Angeles Rams. There were a few calls (and non-calls) that went Seattle’s way late in the 4th quarter and in overtime that undoubtedly upset Lions fans more than anyone else, and it appears as if the officiating hasn’t gone unnoticed in bigger circles.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter penned this column on Saturday morning:
After multiple controversial officiating decisions in Sunday’s playoff-shaping game between the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks, multiple executives and coaches said the NFL needs to reevaluate how it chooses and trains its officiating staff for future seasons.
Those same executives and coaches said game officials and the league missed multiple calls that helped key the Seahawks’ overtime victory over the Rams that sent Seattle to Saturday’s wild-card round and prevented the Detroit Lions from reaching the playoffs.Even the NFL’s competition committee is aware of what one source described to ESPN “as the worst officiated game of the year.”
Another team executive not associated with either the Rams or Lions told ESPN there is “a real groundswell of unhappiness with officiating that is much deeper than I’ve seen and frankly, I haven’t seen in this league in years.”
Multiple sources told ESPN that the Rams were upset by the officiating, the Lions were bothered by it and the competition committee was frustrated by it. The calls benefited the Seahawks, hurt the Rams and ultimately impacted the Lions, who needed Seattle to lose in order to have a chance to claim the NFC’s final wild-card spot.
The key decisions in question made by head referee Craig Wrolstad and his crew:
- The Rams penalized for running into Seahawks punter Michael Dickson, which gave Seattle a first down on an eventual game-tying field goal. Dean Blandino is adamant that this was not a penalty.
- Geno Smith was hit out of bounds by Jalen Ramsey for a personal foul, putting the Seahawks into field goal range. DK Metcalf poked his hand in the face of Ramsey, who
floppedfell down, and no flag was thrown on Metcalf despite one official having clear view of it.
- Smith threw the ball away on 3rd down in the first possession of overtime, with Noah Fant considered to be the closest receiver. Geno was out of the pocket but the ball didn’t reach the line of scrimmage, so it should’ve been intentional grounding given how far away the pass was from Fant. Seattle would’ve punted anyway but the field position would’ve been worse.
- Quandre Diggs pointed at Bobby Wagner with the football after intercepting Baker Mayfield, which could’ve led to a post-interception taunting penalty. A league official told ESPN that this was a judgment call, hence no flag. Seattle scored the winning field goal on this drive, which could’ve started 15 yards further back.
No doubt the officiating in this game was not good and I believe the intentional grounding was the most egregious bad call, but let’s just say the timing of this piece is... peculiar. This won’t change the outcome of anything; it’s not like the Lions can hop on a plane and show up WWE-style as a last-minute replacement opponent.
All I can say is that the Cheathawks are officially back!