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2014 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Wrap-Up

Four teams saw their postseason end in the first round of the playoffs, but the big story on Monday is the referees in Dallas...

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys 24, Detroit Lions 20 - game coverage

The bottom line is there's no excuse for the performance of head referee Pete Morelli and his crew near the end of the game. If you missed it (I struggle to believe anyone who stops by TST on the Monday after the wild card round would have, but you never know), click that link.

It raises a larger question as to the quality of refereeing in the NFL as a whole, something Pride of Detroit thought about in the aftermath. The quality of refereeing was bad enough for me that I raised it as my first question to Fooch from Niners Nation...after a Rams win.

I know the referees have professional processes in place to train and improve and yadda yadda yadda. And I understand it is difficult to accurately judge the specific movements of the obfuscated components of a human centipede in real-time. But there's a simple standard to hold referees in any sport to...

Get the call right and let the performance of the players, not the adjudication thereof, determine the outcome of the play or game.

It certainly doesn't feel that happened last night, and it's hard to have much faith that it's going to get much better when the NFL has as much integrity as a shoe:

The problem is that, given its leadership over the past year, the NFL has no public integrity to speak of. And when you lose that credibility with the general public, these blatant officiating fuckups get amplified by a thousand percent, especially when the reffing has been—across the board!—terrible for most of the season (I am now convinced that Ed Hochuli works on his massive biceps all day specifically to distract people from the fact that he is one of the worst officials in football), and when the NFL still insists on cobbling together new crews for playoff games.

I just can't imagine what I would do if that were the Rams instead of the Lions.

As an aside, Chris Christie and Jerry Jones together in the all-hugs zone might be the most 21st century America thing possible. Take a good long look in that mirror.

For more coverage, see Blogging the Boys and Pride of Detroit.

Indianapolis Colts 26, Cincinnati Bengals 10 - game coverage

This one ends up being all about Andy Dalton. Since being selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Dalton has led the Bengals to four straight playoff appearances...and four straight exits in the wild card round. It's a weird conundrum. For all his faults, he's getting his team to the playoffs. That's certainly part of why the Bengals extended him back in August to a 7-year deal worth just under $100m that would keep him in Cincy through the 2020 season. But that deal had its critics then, and those critics had that much more fodder after his performance yesterday.

Is barely good enough good enough?

Meanwhile, Andrew Luck v. Peyton Manning is a mighty tasty snack next Sunday evening.

For more coverage, see Stampede Blue and Cincy Jungle.

Baltimore Ravens 30, Pittsburgh Steelers 17 - game coverage

Le'Veon Bell. Ben Roethlisberger. Heath Miller. This one ended up seeming like it was more about injuries to me. But does Baltimore really have any chance going to New England this weekend even as the Legend of January Joe grows?

For more coverage, see Baltimore Beatdown and Behind the Steel Curtain.

Carolina Panthers 27, Arizona Cardinals 16 - game coverage

Ryan Lindley, yall. Credit to Jess over at ROTB. He nailed it in our post-game chat back in mid-December:

Me: Here's a question for you. What do you guys need to do to improve your offense for 2015? How are you guys going to get enough points this year to win a postseason game?

Jess: With potentially Ryan Lindley? They won't. With Drew Stanton, it's questionable. Losing Carson Palmer really derailed what was potentially a special season.

For more coverage, see Cat Scratch Reader and Revenge of the Birds.


That quote from Jess really sums up this first round and, well, the NFL as a whole right now.

Look at the teams left and their quarterbacks: Baltimore (Joe Flacco), New England (Tom Brady), Indianapolis (Andrew Luck), Denver (Peyton Manning), Carolina (Cam Newton), Seattle (Russell Wilson), Dallas (Tony Romo) and Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers). That's not exactly a perfect top 8, but it's pretty close.

The bottom line is you have to have a quarterback to succeed in the NFL. You don't want it to be that simple, but it really is. You need more than just that, sure (look at Carolina...). But it's the only real prerequisite.

This weekend was just a reminder.