Posted January 11, 2014

NFL tells officials to call playoff games the same as regular-season games

Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Uncategorized
(Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Apparently, the NFL wants these guys to be a bit more proactive. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

It may seem like a bit of a joke given the high percentage of blown calls and general buffoonery we’ve seen from the NFL’s referees this season, but the league saw the ways in which the wild-card games were officiated, and the league would like to make it clear — its officials are to call postseason games as they called games in the regular season.

Per Pro Football Talk, the NFL sent out a video memo to the media this week in which VP of Officiating Dean Blandino insisted that the “let them play” modus operandi that seemed to rule the day in all four games is not what the league wants.

“The philosophy in the postseason, the direction is no different from the regular season when we talk with our officials,” Blandino said. “We want them to call the game the same way. I know fouls were down this weekend, but the direction is the same — we want them to call the game the same way all year. We’ve told our officials, don’t be overly technical, we don’t want to call what you’d consider ticky-tack fouls. We want to make sure the fouls are there and we’re getting flags down when they are there, and not letting teams take advantage or push the envelope. That’s been the direction all year and it will continue to be the direction during the postseason.”

Given the fact that Blandino had to go on the NFL Network just about every week to explain yet another officiating mistake or three (or five), you’d think he’d like the hands-off approach that the NFL’s crews generally take in the playoffs. To be sure, it was an obvious issue throughout wild-card weekend. Each of the games featured penalties that could have been called and weren’t, and the San Francisco 49ers’ 23-20 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday was particularly interesting. Both teams were grabby at the line and chippy in the secondary, yet Ed Hochuli’s crew called just five penalties on the day. Walt Anderson’s crew threw just six flags in Indianapolis’ win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Jeff Triplette managed to avoid his usual hatchet jobs with nine penalties called in San Diego’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and the New Orleans Saints’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles featured the most called violations, with Bill Vinovich’s crew calling 11 fouls.

Many believe that a hands-off approach in the playoffs makes for better football, and certain teams would prefer that the league keeps things the way they have been. The Seahawks led the NFL this year with 13 pass interference penalties, and the Broncos finished third with 10.  The Saints led the league with 23 offensive holding penalties, and interestingly enough for a team in a stadium that causes more false starts than any other, the Seahawks’ 23 false starts ranked third in the league this season — tied with the Chargers.

We’ll see how much Blandino’s edict affects the games this weekend. For the record, Terry McAulay will lead the crew when the Seattle Seahawks take on the New Orleans Saints, Pete Morelli is the man in charge when the Indianapolis Colts meet the New England Patriots, Carl Cheffers has the whistle for the San Francisco 49ers-Carolina Panthers game, and Clete Blakeman will run things for the game between the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos.

66 comments
sincityq
sincityq

The NFL is suicidal. The playoffs are about refs using penalties to decide game outcomes. Goodell has lost his mind and the ownership is undoubtedly in a mass coma. This league WANTS to self destruct. 

twistedlefty
twistedlefty

am i the only one that finds it odd that they felt they had to tell them to "call the game like a "regular season" game"??? i mean, are the rules different in the post season?

THOMAS64
THOMAS64

Sorry job of officiating in the Panthers' game so far. The ref's have missed quite a few calls and made some chicken s*** ones too!

raindog308
raindog308

Translation: "We need to bolster our legal case against more concussion lawsuits."

SC1
SC1

The officiating on Saturday, Jan 11, was TERRIBLE. MANY OBVIOUS CALLS WERE IGNORED. Corners and Safeties TACKLED receivers... NO CALL ... What is up with that.


Obviously, the Patriots got a distinct pass to the playoffs ... as well as Seattle too

IndianaIke
IndianaIke

Wondering what the NFL will say about the no-call on the obvious tripping of Andrew Luck as he was about to break out of the pocket in 4th qtr? At he time, the Colts were only 7 points down and driving; should have been a first down for Colts. Instead, the Colts punt and Blount goes 73 yds on next possession....ball game. Hey, the better team won, no doubt about that, but the timing of a call or no-call can change the momentum of the game and potentially its outcome. My god, even Dan Dierdorf saw the infraction yet 7 striped shirts missed it?  So get the call right, If it's tripping, throw the damn flag

RichardGould
RichardGould

Just like the politicians in Washington,the NFL is losing touch with "it's" real Fan Base!!

MorphySmith
MorphySmith

how much are these guys paid? seems way too much.

ElvisHitler
ElvisHitler

Pats Colts game was unwatchable due to the officiating. That bogus PI call on 3rd down that lead to a TD. Letting the Pats secondary mug the colts receivers and even tackle them mid route. Unacceptable Roger. NFL = WWE

TruthSeeker12
TruthSeeker12

Hey Blandino, do not forget to tell your Refs to call a fair game when their Golden Boys Manning and Brady are playing.  NFL Refs always seem to watch out for their (and NFLs) Golden Boys to the detriment of the opposing teams.  Also, do your best to call the final game of the season honestly and fairly and do not let Triplett ref in that game.   

rentistoohigh
rentistoohigh

"Most teams have JUST ONE good starting QB...so let those flags fly..especially protecting Brady Manning and our other top dollar prperties"



--The NFL Buffalo Wild Wings Officiating HQ 

Iowa
Iowa

Sad state of sports, or more appropriately sad state of officiating, that something like this should even be a story. Referees somehow have come to think their jobs are not to actually call games by the rules, but to just oversee games to make sure they get done in a set window of time, and if they're making less calls in a game, then they're somehow doing a better job. This goes for football and especially basketball. It's to the point where would be better to just let teams call their own penalties/fouls, and save the money being wasted on officials who only want to do their jobs 25% of the time. Referees aren't paid for their interpretation of the rules; they're paid to enforce them.

Mike26
Mike26

I laugh when I read the way Farrar rips into the officials - as if he's even capable of staying up with 7-year-olds playing FLAG football!

matthewfreitas27
matthewfreitas27

So, I see the headline "same as regular season" and I think "oh, GREAT... You mean 'poorly'?!?!?!"

MrArlington
MrArlington

If this were last year and we had the replacement officials we (fans in general) would be outraged. I thought those criticizing the replacement officials last year were biased and nothing has changed since then.

A.F.Davis
A.F.Davis

It figures...I thought the officiating during Wild Card Weekend was better than it had been ALL SEASON LONG!!!


But No!  We can't have football teams actually playing a "physical" brand of football!


And what happens 2 plays into the first game of Divisional weekend...


A Flag!?!?!!?  Throw on a good, clean hit!?!!?!???!  NO WAY!!


The NFL is becoming increasing sissy football!


The QB's play touch football as it is...and now we can all look forward to all flag-laden weekend of football...

KevinB2014
KevinB2014

Such incompetence by the league. You think Blandino might have wanted to have this discussion BEFORE the wild card games, not after. But then this is the same guy who thinks Jeff Triplette should be working the post-season.

Chip5
Chip5

So you want a league of bettors?  By By golden goose.

chris92021
chris92021

SI.com forgot to write the rest of the message to the officials, which was: if Brees, Manning, or Brady get injured, you are all fired! 

MMoney0021
MMoney0021

With Brady and Manning playing this week its no surprise.

Italo
Italo

I wish the NFL would get rid of the "spot of the foul" called for pass interference. The idea that a WR can gain 30, 60, or 90 yards on a pass play even when he doesn't even catch the ball is totally stupid. PI should be 15 yards and a first down, just like in college football. It will *still* be the biggest penalty on the field! Fans should want their players to *make plays*, not get away with huge chunks of cheap yardage that they may not have even earned. Who knows if a WR would have caught the ball if he wasn't interfered with? Players drop passes every game. the I think the "spot foul" for PI cheapens the game a lot. 

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

This is just how tone-deaf the NFL is.  Nobody likes all the ticky-tack fouls we were seeing game after game, nobody likes the 2-3 minute referee huddles.  We all like the "let-em-play" attitude as long as it's called fair for both sides.  It speeds up the game and makes it infinitely more enjoyable.  

JOHN140
JOHN140

@raindog308And that's all it is too. Create the general impression that the league is soft and that no violent collisions are ever allowed to happen. This way future juries will find it hard to believe anyone could ever suffer brain damage from such a wimpy league. The ironic truth is that it's the small repetitious hits that cause the real lasting problems not the occasional big hit. The league is counting on jurors not to know that.

RaySexauer
RaySexauer

@SC1 That might be the dumbest comment I've seen this year. The Pats destroyed the colts. Had nothing to do with officiating. Idiot. 

SC1
SC1

@ElvisHitler The Officiating was NOT team neutral. Not sure if the outcome would have been different but it was obviously biased.


I am neither a colts fan nor a patriots fan, but the officiating definitely left much to be questioned.

Mike26
Mike26

@MrArlington You have zero credibility if you believe the replacement refs were better than the full-timers.

SC1
SC1

@A.F.Davis Physical football does not equal "RULES" football ... let them play by the NFL RULES ... not by PHYSICAL rules


redmch91
redmch91

@A.F.Davis  Was beginning to think I was the only one who remembers what NFL games were like even 6-7 years ago.  Some of the 'dirty' hits aside I loved watching these playoff games.  Countless times you see an incomplete pass and the first thing a WR does is open his arms to the refs begging for a call.  It's gotten worse than touch fouls in basketball!  It's also annoying watching the RB position diminish into a glorified extra blocker/WR on the 90th shotgun pass play in a game.  Let DB's be physical..the NFL has skewed the game so much in the QB & WR's favor it's the only thing they can do to 'stop' these gaudy passing numbers.  As long as the refs call it the same both ways..which they have..I'm glad to see less flags.

Mike26
Mike26

@A.F.Davis It's pretty clear that you were dropped on your head a lot as a baby...

BY
BY

@A.F.Davis Touch football? Tell us about the time Ndamukong Suh ran into your back full speed.....

qt3dot14
qt3dot14

@Italo 

that cant and wont ever happen.  

in the nfl the players are paid to play.  if they limit the penalty to 15 yards youll never see a pass of 25 or more yards completed.  every defender will just grab the receiver.  when theres money on the line the game changes.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@Italo It should also not be an automatic 1st down in "goal-to-go" situations.  

Iowa
Iowa

@PhillyPenn No, not 'all' like the "ignore the rules" attitude that the officials adopted last weekend. Rules are rules, if they are violated, the violations should be called. Period. Could care less about how long it makes the game take, fans are not entitled to games getting done in a nice, tidy window of time. If the players are committing penalties, they should be called for it, and then it's their fault to adjust to the officials, not the other way around. Otherwise we're just rewarding the team that takes more liberties, in which case why even have rules in the first place?

GoPSULions
GoPSULions

@Mike26@MrArlingtonAll refs were replacements are one time and they became better.  Would have been no different if they did same last year.  Also, they have not converted all the refs to full-time.  Very few are full-time, not even the head ref per team.

MrArlington
MrArlington

@Mike26@MrArlingtonI never said that. I do feel the replacement officials were looked down upon for being replacement refs. If a game this year and last year was called the exact same way, the replacement WOULDN"T get the benefit of the doubt that the normal officials do.

A.F.Davis
A.F.Davis

@qt3dot14 @Italo I don't think it would go down like that...why isn't that the case in college?...because they don't get paid?  Pretty cynical...


I think it would improve the game.

Italo
Italo

Philly: That one I sort of agree with though. If you don't give an automatic first down on goal-to-go situations for PI, what would be the incentive for a defense not to constantly mug and push around WR's in the end zone? From the defense's perspective, it's far better to have the offense get the ball moved forward a few inches or a few feet (or a few yards) instead of giving up a touchdown, every time. I like the idea of making the WR's earn their catched, but in that situation, because of the short field, you kind of have to have a different penalty to reflect the short field.  What do you think?

RickLawrence
RickLawrence

@Iowa@PhillyPennIf that was the case then a holding call should be called on every play I do not agree with that but according to your logic we would see a 100 flags/game. Cmon man!

Italo
Italo

catched = catches  (my typo)