Posted December 22, 2013

Worst Call of the Season? Penalty on Derrick Johnson in Chiefs-Colts game may be it

AFC South, AFC West, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs
This is not a horse-collar tackle, Angle 1

This is not a horse-collar tackle, Angle 1. (Courtesy of NFL Red Zone)

There’s no other way to slice it — this has been a bad year for NFL officials. Every week, VP of Officiating Dean Blandino has to go on the NFL Network and explain how another ref’s crew (usually the one run by Jeff Triplette) botched another call. That said, there has to be a winner for Worst Call of the Season even when there are more entrants than usual, and we might have found the winner in Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts.

With 4:05 left in the first quarter, the Colts had the ball with 3rd-and-6 at the Kansas City 36-yard line. Andrew Luck threw a quick pass to running back Trent Richardson, and Richardson was pulled down by Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson after a four-yard gain. It would have been the end of Indianapolis’ drive but for the fact that Tony Corrente’s crew called Johnson for a horse-collar tackle.

As you can see in the pictures above and below, this certainly doesn’t look like a horse-collar tackle. From the 2013 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League (Rule 12, Section 2, Article 15):

No player shall grab the inside collar of the back or the side of the shoulder pads or jersey  pads or jersey, and pull the runner toward the ground. This does not apply to a runner who is in the tackle box or to a  quarterback who is in the pocket.

Note: It is not necessary for a player to pull the runner completely to the ground in order for the act to be illegal. If his knees are buckled by the action, it is a foul, even if the runner is not pulled completely to the ground.

Now, it’s clear that Johnson pulls Richardson down by his right shoulder pad, but any contact to the collar was minimal, at best. The official who threw the flag was on the sideline, and I’d really like to know what view he had.

This is not a horse-collar tackle, Angle 2.

This is not a horse-collar tackle, Angle 2. (Courtesy of NFL Red Zone)

CBS’ Dan Dierdorf didn’t like the call at first, and then … well, this happened.

“Trent Richardson looks like he’s gonna get the first down, and that certainly doesn’t look like a horse-collar. It looks to … well, wait a minute. On that angle, he may have his hand inside his shoulder pad. When I first looked at that, I thought he had nothing but shoulder pad on the outside, but he may … did … you’re right. At that angle, it looked like [Johnson's hand] might have slipped inside the shoulder pad, and that’s what you’re really not allowed to do. To pull the ballcarrier backwards like that.”

Well, OK. As Dierdorf correctly pointed out, it’s a judgment call, and not subject to review. The Colts got a first down at the Kansas City 17-yard line, and though they ended that drive with an unsuccessful Adam Vinatieri field goal, they were the beneficiaries of perhaps the worst call of the 2013 NFL season.

At least, the worst call so far. We still have the rest of Week 16, all of Week 17, and the entire postseason for the zebras to mess things up even more spectacularly.

120 comments
oofda
oofda

There were three much worse calls in the Vikings-Ravens game alone- costing the Vikings 18 points in a game they lost by 3.  The league office even called Viking coach Frazier early the next morning to discuss the blown and egregiously bad calls.  This was not even the worst in the Chiefs-Colts game.  Officiating has really been problematic this year.

MontyMontezuma
MontyMontezuma

The Keenan Allen phantom pass interference call against him was easily the worst call of the year. #SDvsWASH

northtowntv
northtowntv

This article is the worst call of the year...seriously?

scoutxx
scoutxx

You have a team run by a slime ball who coaches his players to cheat up in Seattle and this is the call you pick? 

CarlLegg
CarlLegg

Worst Call ?? Seriously ?? This doesn't even come close.  And more importantly, let's look at the NON-CALLS, like Seahawks defensive ends with their hands all over pass receivers, all the time, every play.

zonkeriah
zonkeriah

The worst call of the year? Seriously? I'm not sure this is even in the top 100. Maybe not even in the top 200. 

JamesSmith3
JamesSmith3

What's in the egg nog at SI? This was a questionable call at worst there were plenty of outright bad calls. Like how about the phantom offensive pass interference on Keenan Allen against the Redskins where he didn't even come close to touching the defender.


chris92021
chris92021

I can think of 10 more calls just involving the Patriots that would qualify as the worst call of the season. 

COLTSnHEELS
COLTSnHEELS

wow ROFL you are a fXcking idiot and so is SI for publishing this....first the calls triplet has made this year?  The TD against the Colts for one....you actually post THE FXCKING RULE CRITERIA for it then go on to explain how he CLEARLY pulls him down by his shoulder pad......why do I let myself get trolled into this fury...UGGGGH!!

kbuck34
kbuck34

Is this Bleacher Report?

kbuck34
kbuck34

Really? Worst call? Worst article.

sgoetz3258
sgoetz3258

NFL refs are garbage. Worst call just happened in the S.F. yard bird game. That was a good hit. This is the pussification of the N.F.L. as we know it. Let's go to flag football.....Garbage!!!

dei1c3
dei1c3

So is this what SI is now?  A bunch of articles that are nothing but click-bait?  Worst call of the season?  As many have said below...not even close.

jbrown3816
jbrown3816

Not even the worst call of the day. The "interception" at the end of the Seahawks-Cards game was much more significant and much more egregious. 

Joe R2
Joe R2

Nope.  I've seen worse believe it or not.  Horrible year for officials...

YOURNFLCommish
YOURNFLCommish

This is hardly the worst call of the season. It actually looks very close on the images you provided. I could name 10 calls/no calls off the top of my head that were worse.

TrevorRasmussen
TrevorRasmussen

I think the referees are starting to miscall rules because there are too damn many of them. They can't possibly catch everything when they have so many things to be looking for. 


The intent of the horse collar was to prevent guys from being tackled from behind by the back of their neck where they are suddenly  forced back, like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxDGSbmZOJEThey are enforcing the rule based on the wording but not the intent. That tackle was not anything resembling a horse collar. They are being turned into robots rather than humans who are able to watch a play and make a real judgement call. I think they are all just too afraid to mess up.

arby
arby

I am a Chiefs fan.  While this was clearly a bad call, not the worst of even this game.  The no call on the low tackle of Alex Smith, when supposedly the NFL is not allowing these hits below the knees on quarterbacks was much worse (if it had been Braddy, P. Manning, Rodgers, Brees it would have been a penalty and the NFL would be hitting the player with a fine today).  Another worst is the no call of PI on the Colts when the defender was pulling Bowe's jersey about a foot away from his body.  The officiating yesterday was totally pathetic.

leon1376
leon1376

NFL officiating is worse than the NBA and we all know how bad the NBA is. What is it with these guys? There's probably two reasons. First, there's just so much money riding on these games. Mega-millions. No one can tell me something fishy ain't going on. Second: there's just too danged many rules. And there are too many subjective rules. There should be only two subjective rules: unnecessary roughness and holding. Otherwise, let 'em play. Unless a ref's brother-in-law has a few dimes on the game that pays off no matter what. 

Evil Genius
Evil Genius

Really?  you think THIS was the worst call in the NFL this year?  This wasn't even the worst call of this game!  Did you see the fumble where the receiver cleanly caught the ball, tucked it away and stiff armed the tackler all while taking 3 steps before the ball was not knocked out that was ruled an incomplete pass?

modsuperstar
modsuperstar

This is barely on the radar as worst call of the year. That one still goes to the Ahmad Brooks/Drew Brees one, especially since that one drastically effected the NFC playoff seedings.

mantle77777
mantle77777

I don't care about either of these teams, I'm a Giants fan, so I am completely impartial.  This was a questionable call but at certain angles it did look like his hand was just inside the shoulder pad.  Just barely and very close, could have gone either way.  Far from the worst call of the season.  I think Dierdorf was just trying to give the ref's the benefit of the doubt here.  If there had been no call I think that would have been fine too, but I wouldn't get that upset over the call being made.  It's for the safety of the players that they have that rule.  I bet that if there had been no call, Richardson would have been screaming for one.

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

Far from the "worst call" of the NFL season.  From certain angles it looks like a good call.  There have been plenty of calls that don't look accurate from ANY angle, including Triplette's review and overturning of a correct call just last week.

James C
James C

The key parts about the discussion are 1) where was the official who made the call 2) what was his view of the play. 


The best angle that would be close to what he sees is the sideline picture. From that angle, I can completely understand why the flag was thrown. 


The problem I have with this is the media gets all over stuff without considering the officials point of view. 


The vast majority of blown calls are judgement calls not subject to review. That is what makes Triplette's replay call the worst by far. The officials on the field got the call correct and it was the referee, who upon review overturned the call on the field. 


This call also is not worse than the non-penalty in the NE-Carolina play. This horsecollar call isn't close to the worst of the season. 

Brant
Brant

Quintin Mikell's worse-than-Vlade-Divac flop early in the 3rd quarter of the Saints-Panthers game that drew a drive-killing-15-yard-penalty on Zach Strief was far, far worse than this. The Saints were smoking the Panthers on their first drive of the 2d half, and the call took them out of FG range. Yes, Carolina won by 4, but if the Saints score there, it's a totally different game right before the weather turned to a monsoon, and would've changed playcalling all over.

5champs
5champs

It didn't even affect anything…they missed a field goal and won by a wide margin.  No way it's the worst call of the year.

jayboog68
jayboog68

I do believe this was a bad call, but nowhere near the worst call of the year. And I can honestly say that Dan Doorknob retiring at the end of this season is the best thing to happen in sports announcing...ever. This guy is a tool and I may be able to take the TV off of mute now when watching football on CBS.

DerekSvekis
DerekSvekis

clearly his thumb is inside the collar. who writes this crap

Willis
Willis

Pat "phantom PI call to add their come back last week was the worst call. no contest


SweetLightCrude
SweetLightCrude

Someone who, with the benefit of replay, still photos, etc, call this the worst play of the year is pretty much not out of the running for passing judgment on referees. 

jcahill
jcahill

You would have to be a pretty hard-core chiefs fan to convince yourself this is even in the top 100 bad calls of the season.

GeneralIssueJoe
GeneralIssueJoe

Actually it's the 3rd worst because a Cowboys player was penalized for doing it earlier the season,the second was the game clinching interception in the card hawks game, third was this one shown above!

Whatever
Whatever

This was a bad call, but certainly not the worst call of the season. Maybe not even the worst call of week 16.

clt0002
clt0002

That call that almost cost the Steelers the game was clearly the worst call of the season. 

beast
beast

How is that a "Worst Call of the Season so far"???? Are you writing this stuff drunk??? 

He had a thumb in there and obviously when he pulled, it pulled the guys jersey to his throat. 


Wake up!!! Know what you are talking about before you write this stuff!! 

Jessica2
Jessica2

When will the NFL starts paying taxes? The NFL make billions of dollars year and claims non-profit status, just like the church!

COLTSnHEELS
COLTSnHEELS

@Evil Genius Exactly! (which I would have rather had for the yardage...) but that wouldn't even beat the calls triplet has made, really wtf is SI thinking in this article??


Median2
Median2

@modsuperstar Not really, Doesn't change the fact that the Saints aren't going anywhere in the post season and will be bounced out in the first round.

TrevorRasmussen
TrevorRasmussen

@James C Packer fan here, so I could care less about the call but honestly its completely missing the intent of the rule. Its not intended to keep hands off the neck area of the jersey, its intended to keep guys from being ripped backward with the cleats in the ground so they don't tear up their knees. He made a legit tackle around the guys shoulders, on the way down as he was slipping off, he hit the side of the shoulder pad. This doesn't look ANYTHING like the Roy Williams tackles that the rule was created to stop. Go look up his videos and see what they are trying to stop. I equate the to the tackle where on the way down, a guy hits the runners facemask. They call a 15 yard penalty when it wasn't even a factor in the play. Its a malicious use of the rule. They create these rules for safety and to keep people from making cheap, dangerous plays but then they make calls without taking into account the actual play. They are turning these refs into robots rather than people who watch the action and make the RIGHT call. 

Brant
Brant

To clarify, the call in Saints-Panthers wasn't the worst of the season - the non-TD last week in the Bengals game probably get that one.  But this one was crap and worse than the example above

DerekSvekis
DerekSvekis

@jayboog68  horse collar tackle is defined by gripping the inside of the collar of the jersey while tackling. why do you think this was a bad call? watch the video; do you see the thumb inside the collar? it was a good call. si people are laughing their butts off that they can tell you what to think and you obey like a good puppy

mkmck69
mkmck69

@jayboog68 I'm not sure about DD retiring being the best thing to happen to sports announcing...Captain Obvious, Tim McCarver calling it quits is right up there too, as was Joe Morgan going away. Now if we can just get rid of Chris Berman...

JustinandCaseyKotter
JustinandCaseyKotter

Wasn't even the worst call of the game! The chiefs catch fumble that was called an incomplete pass was the worst call of the game.

Snow_Veil
Snow_Veil

@Jessica2 

Pointed out already, but to reiterate - the league is non-profit because the league IS non-profit. 


The TEAMS are for-profit, and they pay their taxes just like any other business. There's plenty wrong with the NFL that actually needs addressed. Choosing to to argue over an ill-informed and invalid point only ruins your credibility on actual issues.

RyanWI
RyanWI

@Jessica2 The teams all pay their taxes.  The corporate office of the NFL is the only non-profit part of the league.  It makes no real difference because that office doesn't actually make any money.  They wouldn't pay taxes anyway.  The reason they have non-profit status is so that the league can remain exempt from anti-trust laws and maintain what is effectively a monopoly on pro football.

COLTSnHEELS
COLTSnHEELS

@arby GRANTED the wording of the rule might be too protective, I give you that (I would love to see less penalties and more huge grown men battling in football) but it CLEARLY states this was a horsecollar offense

JestyrH.Quinn
JestyrH.Quinn

Combine the monopoly to NFL Sunday thicket, and there is your monopoly, which is against the law in the united states of ignoring the constitution.