Biggest Meltdowns Of NFL Week 3: Scab Ref Edition!
The labor dispute between the NFL and the NFLRA has officially claimed its first victim. Congratulations, Green Bay Packers! You may be the sacrificial lamb that finally breaks the stalemate between these two sides! After a rough outing in Week 2, the replacement refs were downright awful in Week 3, taking the focus away from some very exciting football and pushing players and coaches to the edges of frustration and they aren’t going to take it anymore. Players have started tweeting their frustration, one player reportedly told a referee to go “kill yourself,” during a game, and coaches have broken down and chased referees down the tunnel to tell them just how much they think of them (spoiler: NOT MUCH!). So with these terrible stand-ins in mind, we present a very special Biggest Meltdowns: Scab Ref Edition!
5. Kyle Shanahan would like a word
The Washington Redskins were attempting to mount a comeback late in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals when the refs decided they’d had just about enough of that. With Robert Griffin III driving his team down the field and just 7 seconds remaining, Washington had a wide receiver commit a false start penalty, which everyone believed would result in a 10-second runoff and end the game. They thought that because that is the rule.
But scab refs make their own rules! So they marched Washington back five yards and then to add a little insult to injury, called them for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty despite the entire Cincinnati bench emptying out onto the field prematurely (apparently) and never told anyone who was responsible for the unsportsmanlike penalty. So instead of a manageable Hail Mary from the Bengals 40-yard line, they were backed up an extra 20 yards leaving their last-second heave woefully short and Cincinnati escaped with the win.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was not done with the friendly debate on the merits of those final calls (or any of them throughout the day) so he chased the official down the tunnel to share some final words with him. Words like “you’re a joke” and “f*** you” and “you’re a f***ing p****” which I’m sure the referee will appreciate as he’s written into the annals as part of the darkest chapter in NFL history.
4. The Steelers tried to kill a guy, so the refs gave Oakland a pass
The Pittsburgh Steelers headed into the Black Hole of Oakland to take on the Raiders and decided to try and take someone’s head home with them. That someone just happened to be wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bay (pictured) getting the top of Ryan Mundy’s helmet driven right into his chin. Pretty much textbook helmet to helmet contact right? And a ref should be staring at this play anyways for pass interference, right? So surely they caught this…RIGHT?? Nope! DHB was carted off the field with his neck in a brace to spend the night in a local hospital for observation, and Mundy will have to wait for a letter from the league office to feel the pinch for this hit.
But don’t think that the Raiders were the victims in this one, because the refs decided to make it up to them. The Oakland Raiders didn’t have a flag thrown on them in the final three quarters and finished with just three penalties on the day. The Oakland Raiders, the flaggiest team to ever play the game of football, had THREE penalties the ENTIRE DAY. That is not the Raider way…unless you have a group of officials looking the other way trying to get them a win for their coach’s birthday (Happy Birthday Dennis Allen!).
3. The refs totally know what Jim Harbaugh was MEANING to do
In Minnesota, the Vikings were trying to milk the clock on their surprising upset over the San Francisco 49ers when Jim Harbaugh turned on the old charm and worked a little magic on the referees in regards to his timeouts and challenges.
As we discussed yesterday, Harbaugh called his final timeout with 3:33 left before deciding during the stoppage that he wanted to challenge the ruling on the field. Turns out, Toby Gerhart had fumbled the ball and the Niners had fallen on top of it, so Harbaugh was pretty adamant about wanting to challenge. The only problem was his lack of timeouts BECAUSE HE HAD JUST SPENT HIS LAST ONE.
The refs convened, decided to give Harbaugh back the timeout (for no reason, apparently), review and overturn the call on the field, and give Harbaugh an additional challenge that he used three plays later to get an Alex Smith interception overturned (in vain). All in all, the exchange of ideas between Harbaugh, the refs, and the replay officials took TWENTY EIGHT MINUTES to sort out. At least it didn’t spoil a win for one of the teams involved! *FORESHADOWING*
2. Replacement officials do not like the bright lights of primetime
On Sunday Night Football, the Ravens and Patriots renewed a bitter rivalry that had determined the AFC representative to the Super Bowl last time they met. This time, the main driving force of the ball in this one? That’s right, penalty flags! Neither team was happy with the way the flags were flying, as the refs were inconsistent in their calls, missing the obvious ones and making up phantom ones to even it out.
At the end of the game, the refs helped set up the Ravens for a final shot at revenge with a short field goal with no time on the clock, reminiscent of the AFC Championship game where Billy Cundiff shanked a chip shot to cost the Ravens the game. This time, Baltimore had a new kicker, a rookie who hasn’t missed a field goal yet in his young career, so surely he made it with ease, right? Well, kind of, except it kind of looked like he missed it…but by kicking it high and over the goal posts, the replacement refs couldn’t really tell. So they said “WHATEVS” and gave the Ravens the win.
Bill Belichick, not known for his patience when things go south, decided he would pull a Kyle Shanahan and chased down a referee to get some answer about the calls he found to be less than “good.” This time, the replacement ref was not going to hear it, and brushed off Belichick even when the coach grabbed his arm. Expect Belichick to write a hefty check to the NFL offices this week and for that referee to mysteriously call in sick to his real job before being reported missing.
1. AND THEN TWITTER JUST MELTED
And it was all just a precursor to Monday Night Football. Seattle hosted the Green Bay Packers and the night was filled with the chaotic, uneven, inconsistent officiating that has come to define this scab ref movement. Holds that were holds in the first quarter became cool in the third quarter. Pass interference was called on a whim. The refs seemed not to be seeing the game, so much, as pretending they knew what had happened while running around with their eyes closed.
The game was a farce long before the final play, but the last Hail Mary call poured cement into the hole where the final nail in the coffin of the NFL’s case against the regular refs in this labor dispute. With time expiring and the Seahawks down by 5, Russell Wilson heaved a hope and a prayer into the Seattle night and it came down in a crowd, seemingly caught by Packers defender M.D. Jennings…well seemingly to everyone except the refs. Golden Tate leapt up (after blatantly shoving a Packer to the ground) and wrestled with Jennings on the ground to take the ball away. While everyone else saw it as a desperate attempt to ignore the reality of the loss, the refs saw it as a good effort, and decided to reward that effort…by GIVING THE SEAHAWKS THE TOUCHDOWN?!?!
That’s when Twitter exploded. If you follow anyone who talks/likes/has heard of football, or just sports in general, then your timeline immediately became a stream of consciousness that boiled down to “WTF” and “Pay the real refs anything they want times 1000.”
In short, the NFL’s case against the referee labor union suffered a nuclear meltdown with the incompetence of the scab refs directly affecting the winning or losing of one of the league’s premier teams. This was the worst-case scenario for the NFL’s continued stance of the replacement refs being “good enough,” but the best case scenario for the real refs and fans who would like to see football return to normalcy.
So here’s to you, scab refs: the most effective argument in favor of labor unions in the history of collective bargaining.