HomeSportsNFLNFL Officiating Comes Under Fire For NFL Playoff-Altering Calls In Seahawks vs. Rams

NFL Officiating Comes Under Fire For NFL Playoff-Altering Calls In Seahawks vs. Rams

by Alex Weber
NFL referees
(Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NFL is under fire for some controversial officiating in one of the most important regular season games of the year. In Week 18, the Seattle Seahawks needed to beat the Los Angeles Rams in order to make the playoffs. Plus, a Seattle win also meant that the Detroit Lions would be eliminated from playoff contention before their Sunday night game against Green Bay.

Well, the Seahawks won, but not without controversy, as several questionable calls went Seattle’s way and helped them to the win, leading to some outrage after the fact. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, multiple parties were upset over the calls. He reports that “the Rams were upset by the officiating, the Lions were bothered by it and the (NFL’s) competition committee was frustrated by it.”

“The Lions should be livid. It was an awful way for them to end their season,” one source told ESPN, according to Schefter.

The frustrations center around a few calls. One being a running into the punter call, which was whistled on a Seattle punt. That granted the Seahawks a new set of downs when they were down by three late in the fourth quarter. The player who committed the foul was actually tossed into the punter’s space by a Seattle blocker, though. NFL rules dictate that Running Into The Punter should not be called if a player “is pushed or blocked [causing a change of direction] into the kicker” — which the Rams player obviously was.

NFL Fans Are Ticked About the Calls

The game eventually went to overtime, partially due to that call. In the extra period, two more flags were thrown for late hits on Seattle quarterback Geno Smith. On the first, Smith dropped back to pass and was rushed by several Rams. He threw the ball away right as a defender got to him and drove him into the ground. That act drew a 15-yard roughing the passer flag, even though the defender got home just as Smith was releasing the ball.

In the final 30 seconds of overtime, another important and controversial call went against the Rams. Geno Smith took off out of the pocket after dropping back to pass. He then went out of bounds around Los Angeles 45-yard-line — on the verge of field goal range. When he went out, though, Smith ran right into Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey didn’t make a tackle attempt of any kind but was simply hit by the rusher. Boom, another 15-yard flag, which set Seattle up for a much easier game-winning kick.

All those calls against the Rams have folks around the NFL up in arms at a perceived blatant lack of officiating fairness in that particular contest. A game that directly impacted the playoff berths of at least two teams. Surely the NFL will have some answers after such fallout, but we’ll have to wait and see.