Ball don’t lie: 3 worst calls from Week 16 in the NFL

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll (Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images)
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll (Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Week 15 set new lows for 2020 NFL officiating, while Week 16 only built upon those impressively bad standards.

Who says no to a holiday helping of bad NFL officiating? Well, perhaps fans of the Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks would like a word.

A constant theme over the past few weeks has been just how important a challenge flag can be in determining the result of a game and, for the zebras, saving their asses. NFL coaching staffs now often include someone whose sole job it is to advise the head coach on said challenge flag. It’s a seldom-used, but invaluable duty that for contending teams typically has a high success rate.

Honorable mention: I couldn’t help myself. The Jets were victimized on the weakest roughing the passer call of the season. While they would eventually divide and conquer for their second straight win, this one a stunning victory over the Cleveland Browns, this call was an insult to football.

Technically correct? Sure. The Jets defender led with his helmet and made contact with Baker Mayfield’s facemask. It was the most incidental of contact, however, and should hopefully lead to an addendum of some sort. My goodness.

3. “Down by Contact” in Rams vs Seahawks

Jared Goff and his faulty thumb found wide receiver Josh Reynolds on a medium crossing route just past the sticks, which resulted in No. 11 rolling on the turf to corral the pass. On first look, it’s fairly obvious that Reynolds wasn’t touched on the play. A diving Seahawks defender attempted to make a play on the ball, but instead failed to do so, as his outstretched arm didn’t touch Reynolds’ back. Did that matter? No.

Reynolds was called down by contact, for some reason, and the play could not be challenged. In the aftermath, Reynolds would fumble the ball when he got back to his feet. The ball was recovered by the Seahawks, and would’ve been a fairly momentous turnover at that point in the game. Instead, the Rams were gifted a first-and-10, and there was nothing the Seahawks could do to overturn the play. Cool.

Sure, Seattle would win in part thanks to Goff’s faulty, injured thumb, and are now assured the NFC West title. But it didn’t have to be so difficult.