We’ve always known, but perhaps Week 13 made it official — vantage point is everything with NFL officiating.
What I define as the wrong call can easily be explained away by Gene Steratore and the like by a camera angle, or my point of view. In fact, the simple idea that I’m looking for questionable decisions makes for long-winded conversation about sports media ethics, but that’s neither here nor there.
Week 13, for once, did not offer too many game-altering decisions. If anything, officials were consistent in that they did not put themselves, or their motives, in front of the playoff picture-altering games at hand. It only took three quarters of the season, and finally the zebras are starting to listen to me.
That being said, the theme of Week 13 is tomfoolery. From a hidden ball trick to a classic Andy Reid error, officials were able to absolve themselves from any blame by putting the onus on players and coaches who failed to use NFL rules to their advantage, or in Alex Smith’s case did so to the detriment of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
3. Ejection gone wrong
It’s not lost on me that both Xavien Howard and Tyler Boyd deserved some form of punishment in the Bengals-Dolphins 1 p.m. ET slate. The question, however, is exactly how much discipline Boyd and Howard should have gotten, and how could the officials do so without showing bias towards one or the other. Their answer? Simply eject both.
On the surface, this isn’t a terrible decision. Boyd and Howard had been facing off all game, and clearly went over the top by throwing hands ever so slightly. Yet, has the NFL gotten so soft that a little shoving results in fines plus disqualification? If so, surely more players than Boyd and Howard should’ve been thrown out on Sunday.
The worst part of this decision, though, was the fact that only the Bengals received a 15-yard penalty, while the Dolphins merely lost a veteran presence in their secondary in Howard. Sure, losing Howard, who leads the NFL in interceptions, is a steep punishment, but shouldn’t both teams have been penalized? Both Howard and Boyd took swings, therefore offsetting penalties were expected. Instead, the refs insinuated that Boyd instigated such an incident rather than Howard, which simply isn’t true. First swing or not, if both players are thrown out, as was the case here, both teams ought to receive penalties to cancel out their losses.