Week 11 was a bad week for the officials
After a couple of bad weeks, the NFL needed a quite week from the officials. They didn’t get it. There were 2 incidents that may have caused the wrong team to win a game & an official apparently cursed a player.
On the final play of the Patriots /Jaguars game, Tom Brady threw into the end zone. The pass was short & was intercepted. One official threw a yellow flag. After consulting with another official, he picked up the flag. He announced that there was no flag on the play & the game was over & that was it. Later after the teams were in their locker rooms and the fans were heading home, the league announced that the flag had been for defensive pass interference and that they had picked up the flag because in their view, the pass was uncatchable.
Leaving aside the idea that what is uncatchable to Rob Gronkowski isn’t the same as to a normal human, and also leaving aside the idea that if it was uncatchable, it was because Luke Kuechly had illegally pulled Gronkowski several yards from where he wanted to be, it was still a bad call. While there may have been some question as to whether this was defensive pass interference, there is no question that it was defensive holding.
The NFL rule book is online like everything else these days. Here is what it says…
A defensive player may not: (a) tackle or hold an opponent other than a runner. Otherwise, he may use his hands, arms or body only to defend or protect himself against an obstructing opponent in an attempt to reach a runner. After a loose ball has touched the ground, a defensive player may legally block or otherwise use his hands or arms to push or pull an opponent out of the way in a personal attempt to recover the ball.
Penalty: For illegal contact or holding by the defense: Loss of five yards and automatic first down.
Kuechly was clearly guilty of defensive holding. By rule, the ball should have been placed at the 13 yard line & the Patriots should have been given one untimed down to attempt a touchdown. If they succeeded, they would have won. If they failed and there was not another defensive penalty, then the Panthers would have won. One shot from the 13 yard line isn’t an automatic touchdown by any means, but the Patriots deserved that final chance. Frankly I would have bet on them either succeeding or getting a pass interference call (which would have given them a shot from the 1 yard line).
Mike Pereira, the former NFL vice-president in charge of officiating, who is now an analyst announced on November 19th that he believes that it was pass interference. At his Tuesday press conference, Coach Jeff Fisher, who has been on the NFL Competition Committee forever said “I personally feel like the flag went down for a reason, and it looked like a foul to me.”
Drew Brees got a call in the Saints/49ers game that most quarterbacks wouldn’t have gotten & it probably changed the outcome of the game. I don’t think this was as egregious as the non-call in the Patriots game, but I do think that it’s a call that Drew Brees (or Tom Brady, or Aaron Rogers or Peyton Manning) would get, but Matt Schaub or Geno Smith or another 20 or so quarterbacks would not have gotten.
With San Francisco leading 20-17 with 3:18 left in the game, the Saints were driving. They had a third in 2 on the 49ers 35 yard line. When Brees dropped back to pass, Ahmad Brooks beat his man (Zach Strief) and sacked Brees. He knocked the ball out of his hands and it was recovered by San Francisco’s Patrick Willis.
The referees threw a flag & said that Brooks had roughed the passer by hitting him in the head or neck. If you watch the video, you see that he hits Brees in the chest, which is kind of hard considering that he is 6 foot 3 inches & 259 pounds & Brees is probably 5 foot 11 inches. Brees starts to fall/slide down (as you might expect when hit by 259 pounds at full speed. To check this for yourself, you can strap skates to a refrigerator & have someone roll it down hill on top of you. When Brees slides down, that puts Brooks’ arm around his neck. It is a quick thing and obviously wasn’t intended, but I can see how it might be called. The truth is that if that were Josh McCown at quarterback, there would be no call and the 49ers would be able to burn some time off the clock and maybe win the game. Instead, the Saints got the ball back, eventually kicked a field goal to tie the game and then later kicked another to win it. Perhaps the Niners would have been incompetent with the ball. They certainly looked terrible out there for much of the game. Perhaps everything would have played out the same except that the Saints would have had to go for a touchdown at the end and they might have gotten that. Various things could have happened, but the bottom line is that the referee’s call on such a borderline hit changed the course of the game dramatically.
The referees also missed an incident in the Colts/Titans game. Colts linebacker Erik Walden tore the helmet off Titans tight end Delanie Walker & then used his own helmet to head butt Walker in the face. That isn’t just unnecessary roughness. It is unnecessary roughness with a side order of assault. After the league reviewed the film, Walden was suspended for his week 12 game, but he should have been kicked out of the game on Sunday & the Titans should have gotten 15 yards and a first down.
Maybe the worst referee issue for the week was something that was only brought to light after the game. After the Washington/Philadelphia game, Washington player Trent Williams claimed that umpire Roy Ellison called him a “garbage a*** disrespectful motherf*****” during Washington’s loss, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Other players backed him up on this claim after initially telling him to shut up so that he wouldn’t be fined for criticizing the official. That certainly calls into question whether Ellison was objective in calling the game.
I’m certain that there are referees who dislike particular players. There are probably referees who have a rooting interest in games. I hope that there aren’t any referees who have a bet on a game. The referees are an important part of the game. It is unfortunate when the integrity of the game is called into question because of their actions on the field.
Recently there was a fund raiser that benefited the school system my daughters attend. At the event they had around 35 wineries, primarily from the El Dorado area, pouring their wines. Here are a few I tasted. I was making my notes on my phone, so these aren’t the most detailed notes ever. I had to leave a couple off because I couldn’t figure out after the fact which winery was the correct one. I wasn’t familiar with the region, so it was a nice opportunity to learn and taste.
El Dorado was one of the three largest wine producers in the early years of California wineries. They ranked behind Los Angeles and Sonoma County. After prohibition, they mostly disappeared. Since being designated as an AVA in 1983, the area has grown to about 2,000 acres and 50 wineries. The wineries range from 1,200-3,500 feet in elevation. They tend to be planted on slopes rather than on flat land. It seems like they should have a long growing season with highs in the 50’s in December & January and in the low 90’s in July & August.
Sierra Vista Vineyards El Dorado Viognier 2011
This has a nice varietally correct nose. You get white peach & floral notes. Unfortunately it disappoints on the palate. It manages to be thin & a little hot at the same time. It smells great though.
Miraflores 2007 Syrah
Very solid Syrah black pepper & dark fruit are the primary components. I think there is some French oak as well. This is solid, but not exceptional.
Nevada City Winery Zinfandel 2011
Sweet candied fruit, probably too candied for me. Some drier herbal notes on the nose. That herbal component comes across as medicinal on the palate. I also get some cherry here, which is probably atypical for Zinfandel.
Cedarville Vineyards Zinfandel 2011
There is a lot of oak on the nose. That gives it a nice coffee smell or maybe chicory. Deep red fruit flavors mingle with tobacco & nutty oak. This is a great example of this style. The oak may be too much for some, but others will love it.
Busby Cellars Barbera 2010
Here’s a fruit forward wine. This had a nice combination of juicy red fruit, leather, & maybe a hint of brettanomyces. On second taste, more than a hint. This would be nice with an herbed roast or a pizza with sausage & caramelized onions.
Ciotti Old Vine Zinfandel Placer County 2011
This is a nice chocolaty Zinfandel with a backbone of earthiness. It has moderate tannins. Raspberry is the primary fruit.
This winery is in the Sierra Foothills, but brings their fruit in at night from Napa. As you might expect from the name, this is a homage to a left bank Bordeaux style wine. It is a muscular wine with good tannins & earthiness. It reminds me of raspberry dipped in cocoa. Basically, it is a big Bordeaux style wine. At $84 a bottle, it probably isn’t for everyone, but it is worth drinking.
Sierra Vista Roussanne 2011
Apricot is the primary fruit, but there isn’t much here. After it opened up I got some toasted spiced pear, which was nice. This is better than I first thought. It isn’t a favorite, but it is a solid wine.
Moniz Family Wine Cuvee Olivia 2010
67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc. The fruit comes from Chalk Hill, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek and Sonoma Valleys. It’s a classic Bordeaux blend, but doesn’t taste like Bordeaux . The first impression I got was all new world fruit. It does have some dust to it that is nice. This is a pretty tasty wine, but there isn’t much on the nose. At $16 a bottle, it is worth buying a bottle & decanting it to see if the nose will open up with time.