All season long, Chiefs’ social media has been ablaze with fans losing their minds about NFL officiating, and it’s time they take a chill pill.
I understand and share the frustration when a referee misses a big call. When Juju Smith-Schuster got knocked out cold, and I saw a flag fly, I was happy that Andre Cisco would be punished for the hit. As CBS showed replay after replay of Cisco’s helmet making contact with Juju’s helmet, I was shocked to hear the refs say they had picked up the flag. Of course, I was angry, especially considering it was a third down, and we had to punt after not getting the call.
But that is where my emotions in the play stopped. The Chiefs were up 14-0 in the second quarter, so I knew the call would have zero impact on the game’s outcome. I also understand that refs are human, and they aren’t perfect robots. It was a bang-bang play. The crew got together, and obviously, they believed it wasn’t helmet to helmet, as they stated after the game. Yes, they were wrong, but to pretend you can’t understand why the refs thought they saw something else is just being blind to reality.
It wasn’t the only missed call of the game, though. In the first quarter, the refs missed Andrew Wylie flinching before a pass play that got a Chiefs first down. I noticed my Twitter didn’t blow up with angry fans complaining about a bad call. Of course, I am sure if I followed more Jaguar fans, I’d have seen plenty of it.
As we all sit in the stands or on our couches, we watch NFL refs make dozens of calls on every single play. We all joke about how they could call holding on every single play, yet they don’t do that. There are hundreds of calls the refs make every single game. Yet social media and media in general, lose their minds based on a handful of calls in a game, sometimes just one. Imagine in your job, if you did everything right except for one thing and your employer freaked out the way fans and media do with referees.
I will admit there are a few calls in NFL history that have directly led to the outcome of the game being different. The most obvious example of this is the New Orleans Saints vs. Los Angeles Rams NFC Championship game in 2018. That game was tied at 20 with under two minutes to go. Saints had the ball and threw a pass down the sideline, and a Rams defender laid out the Saints receiver before the ball arrived for an apparent pass interference by any definition.
If the call had been made, they’d have been in easy field goal range and could have run the clock down to under 20 seconds to kick and win. Instead, the refs made no call, and the Saints were forced to punt the ball. The Rams ended up winning the game in overtime after the Saints’ first possession of OT stalled. Yes, the Saints had chances to win after the call, but it’s no doubt with the correct call, they’d have won. So I have no issue with Saints fans holding grudges against refs for that.
But 99.9% of missed calls do not affect the outcome of games, and fans need to stop treating refs like they should be robots. Yes, the Chris Jones roughing the passer penalty in week two was a bad call. But fans need to stop just screaming and crying about bad calls and understand why the wrong call was made.
Jones was called because he landed with his full weight on the QB, which is roughing. Now the reason he did was that he had possession of the ball, so he couldn’t brace himself with his other hand. But the refs couldn’t see that well and even judged it didn’t matter because the QB got the protection until the play was over.
What matters, though, is that the call had nothing to do with the outcome of the game outside of the spread. The Chiefs still won, and even if they had lost, there would have been many drives between the call and the game’s outcome to blame for the loss. The worst call in Chiefs history, Derek Johnson’s sack on Marcus Mariota, still had nothing to do with the game’s outcome. Johnson destroyed Mariota on a blitz causing a fumble the Chiefs recovered. But the refs blew the play dead, saying Mariota was down by forward progress.
There was no understanding of what the refs saw on that play. Forward progress is called when a player is hit, driven back, and refs blow the play dead as he’s being pushed back. Johnson simply drove through Mariota, who went straight to the ground for a sack. So yes, it was, and hard to imagine anything ever being worse, the worst call against the Chiefs in their history. But it was when the Chiefs were up 14-0 in the second quarter. The Chiefs had an entire half not to choke away that playoff win, so the refs get no blame.
So NFL fans, and Chiefs Kingdom especially, stop acting like children because a ref misses a call. We all get angry and frustrated in the moment, but once the moment is gone, move on. Refs are human beings who make difficult calls watching 22 bodies flying around a football field every play. They are human beings and are going to get some calls wrong, and that is ok. Being 99% accurate in any job is a good percentage. So stop blaming refs for games. Stop pretending the refs are out to get your team. Take off the aluminum foil hats; save those for flat earthers and 9/11 deniers.