Following the Los Angeles Rams loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 18, NFL officiating came under scrutiny. In the eyes of many, NFL officials missed several calls in the fourth quarter that impacted the result.
4th quarter today in Seattle— Todd Fuhrman (@ToddFuhrman) January 9, 2023
- roughing the punter that wasn't
- late hit that wasn't on Ramsey
- Metcalf not being called for hands in the face mask
- Geno Smith not being called for intentional grounding
- Diggs not being called for taunting
This an officiating clinic
That didn’t go unnoticed by those around the NFL. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, NFL officiating is under scrutiny after the Rams-Seahawks controversy. Schefter said,
Multiple executives and coaches said the NFL needs to reevaluate how it chooses and trains its officiating staff for future seasons...Those same executives and coaches said game officials and the league missed multiple calls that helped key the Seahawks’ overtime victory over the Rams that sent Seattle to Saturday’s wild-card round and prevented the Detroit Lionsfrom reaching the playoffs.
In the fourth quarter and overtime, NFL officials missed five calls that in the end, impacted the game. Not only did they impact the result of that game, the calls impacted the Detroit Lions who could have made the postseason with a Rams win.
According to Schefter, “Multiple sources told ESPN that the Rams were upset by the officiating, the Lions were bothered by it and the competition committee was frustrated by it.”
What’s frustrating is that NFL officials didn’t admit their errors following the game. There remains no accountability when it comes to NFL officiating which is part of the problem.
The first big miss was a running into the kicker penalty by Jonah Williams. Schefter’s report says that a league official told ESPN that the official who threw the flag did not have an angle that allowed him to see Williams being blocked into Dickson.
Later on, the officiating crew missed an intentional grounding penalty on Geno Smith. Smith’s pass landed 12 yards away from Noah Fant - the closest receiver. The league official told ESPN that game officials determined Fant was in the vicinity of Smith’s pass even though his route was impacted by Quentin Lake.
The final missed call came in overtime after Baker Mayfield’s interception to Quandre Diggs.The league official told ESPN that the decision to not flag Diggs for taunting was a judgment call. It’s fair to note that far less has been called taunting by the NFL.
While he officiating certainly didn’t help the Rams, they also didn’t lose because of the officiating. On the interception, Mayfield had Jefferson open. A pass with less air under it and closer to the sidelines might have been a touchdown.
Still, to lose in the fashion that the Rams did with the officiating crew being a main talking point certainly puts a sour taste in the result. The Rams didn't have anything to play for, but knocking a divisional rival out of the playoffs would have been a moral victory worth having head into the offseason.
The Rams didn’t have anything to play for, however, nobody may have been more effected by the calls than the Detroit Lions. With a Rams win, the Lions would have been in the playoffs as they upset the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday Night.
When NFL officiating is impacting playoff positions, that’s a problem. There needs to be a way to make sure that these types of mistakes don’t happen. It will be interesting to see if the NFL makes any changes this offseason.