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These Are the NFL’s Best Referees?

The NFL constantly monitors and grades referee performance during the regular season and then selects the highest-rated regular season refs to preside over the postseason games.

The system didn’t look to me like it was working very well in the Green Bay Packers-Dallas Cowboys matchup.

Davante Adams played another steady and energetic game, resulting in five catches for 76 yards. Against Adams, the only Dallas defender who got flagged all game long was Morris Claiborne, five yards for an obvious hands-to-the-face infraction.

With about a minute left in the first quarter, Adams made what has become his best play, a stop-and-go move. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick, taken in by the fake, spun Adams around and all but tore his jersey off as Adams accelerated past him, causing Aaron Rodgers’ pass to fall harmlessly to the ground several yards downfield. Adams quickly got his revenge, however, as he moved over to the left side and beat Byron Jones for a 32-yard catch on the very next play.

With 5:15 left in the half, and the Packers inside their own 10-yard line, Adams ran a quick slant toward the middle of the field – in full view of about four referees. Claiborne grabbed and held his right arm for five yards. No penalty was called and Adams went ballistic. It was a third down play and the incompletion forced the Packers to punt.

Following the game, Adams was gracious, saying that he guessed the refs decided to just let the players play. I know what he meant, but what was being allowed was just the opposite. Adams was completely prevented from running his routes. These weren’t close calls, they weren’t subtle, and they happened where the ball was going, so many sets of referees’ eyes should have observed the mayhem.

I’ve not said a word about referees all year. Until this game I hadn’t seen such shoddy work.

As an aside, fans undoubtedly saw that on the 36-yarder to Jared Cook at games’ end, the head linesman signaled an incomplete pass. Fortunately, the back judge immediately came in and overruled him. Did you see the first ref smack the second one on the butt? He realized he had blown the call, and was thanking the second official for bailing him out and getting it right.

The NFL needs to work harder on referee consistency. There should be no such thing as some crews calling plays closely and others “letting ‘em play.”

Pass interference and defensive holding calls and non-calls aren’t subject to booth review.

It would be a shame to have the conference championship or the Super Bowl decided by a non-call like the two I described above.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Deepsky January 19, 2017

    Amusingly, Cowboys fans are convinced the refs heavily favored the Packers, enough to influence the outcome of the game, even though there were many examples of the Cowboys getting away with penalties, especially early in the game. The two plays in particular they are using to demonstrate that the refs favored the Packers are the unsportsmanlike penalty/huddle call, and the Rodgers interception that was called back, even though clearly Montgomery was held back. I guess they have a point on the latter. When the Packers receivers were mugged all game, why did the refs not allow it at that point?

    1. PF4L January 19, 2017

      Winning teams correct mistakes. Losing teams blame the refs.

      Remember bear fans? They couldn’t cry loud enough about the refs when the Packers beat the bears. You don’t hear them doing that anymore. Because they realized it wasn’t the refs fault, it was their own team’s fault. And still is.

  2. Howard January 19, 2017

    That is why the Packers and other teams scout the officials. The Packers probably held also, however it is harder to fully take advantage of the official allowing the defensive backs to play when they are not close enough to hold. Yes, Randall thinking of you.

    There was a lot of holding on both offensive lines and the defensive backs not called and it all works out as long as one team is not targeted. You have to use the officials tendencies and obsessions to your advantage.

    I think the Patriots use to mug receivers when the playoffs rolled around because they knew they could get away with it. The Giants during one of there super bowl runs use to back their offensive tackles off the line a little further than allowed because they could get away with it. The other teams didn’t use those official tendencies to their advantage and lost.

    The teams and players just have to understand what the officials allow before the game starts and adjust to the officials calls if needed during the game. I sure don’t want to see a football game turn into a basketball game.

  3. Cheesehead overseas January 19, 2017

    I remain convinced that the “just let them play” bullshit is highly prejudicial against good offensive teams. Despite his Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears pedigree rod matinelli is no dummy. Once he realized that holding, grabbing, tackling and butt fucking receivers was allowed, he knew he had the freedom to release the hounds and send the pass rush
    The packers didn’t play worse offense in the second half and the vomitous, Cowboys did NOT play better defense. They cowfuckers simply realized the referees were allowing them to rape packers receivers
    And Conwfuck fans genuinely believe the referees were against them. Please see Exhibit One Devonte Adams shoulder pads. That was a HUGE uncalled penalty. We could have easily scored at least 3 more points before half time instead of giving it back for Dallas to score.
    Saying the referees were against you is for losers but that crew was historically bad. What the fuck were they looking at?!
    So glad to ruin their season but it should not have been that close
    Go Pack Go!!!

  4. PF4L January 19, 2017

    If there is NFL football, until the end of time. there will be people complaining about the refs, until the end of time. Just the way it is, and will be. I’ve stated my opinion on this, and i believe when all said and done, In the end it’s a wash.

    Travis Kelce couldn’t cry loud enough to the media after the Chiefs/Steelers game for Smith’s holding penalty on Harrison. when it was clearly a hold.

    With the advent of replay review, the games have never been called with more accuracy than now..

  5. seemore fartes January 19, 2017

    this is the dumbest article ever… blatant missed holding call on the cook play, blatant missed PI call on witten at the end of the first half, and the NFL has already admitted to the bogus unsportmanlike call on butler that changed the outcome of the game… yet packers fans wine about defensive holdings calls that were missed… get a life, enjoy the giftm just pray it isn’t blown like the last time the refs gifted you to the NFC champ

    1. icebowl January 19, 2017

      Got to “this is the dumbest…”
      The rest of your “contribution” is just blah-blah-blah….
      Dude, no one friggin cares what you think. Now go away..Dont you have a flatscreen tv to destroy…?

    2. bplewis24 January 20, 2017

      The NFL did not admit any such thing. They’ve specifically debunked that story:

      There was no blatant missed holding call on the Cook play. And the missed Witten call only makes up for ONE of the missed holding calls on Davante Adams. No matter which way you slice it, the Cowboys came out on top of the officiating, and still lost.