You’ve seen it by now, again and again and again no doubt.  You’ve probably heard every conceivable argument in favor and against and every piece of analysis there is about whether the Cowboys’ Anthony Hitchens interfered with the Lions’ Brandon Pettigrew late in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

And here’s the rub:  It doesn’t matter.

What Hitchens did is called pass interference 99.9% of the time because he didn’t look back for the ball.

Is that a dumb standard?  Probably.

Doesn’t change the fact that it’s used as THE litmus test for pass interference.

And even if this wasn’t pass interference, it was surely defensive holding.  And even if it wasn’t a penalty at all, when’s the last time you saw a flag thrown, a penalty called and announced over the loud speaker and then called off with zero explanation and the game just continue as if it had never happened?

Never, that’s when.

Fact:  this was the most poorly officiated NFL game all season.  Forget the pass interference call, I personally saw 4 offensive holding calls that were missed (3 on Dallas, 1 on Detroit).  The call/non-call play was the single most poorly officiated play all season.  And this is in the playoffs.  This was in the closest playoff game of the weekend.  And the shitty officiating ruined it.  No argument about it.  This game was destroyed by inconsistent and shoddy officiating.

I’ve been hearing since the ‘70s that the NFL playoffs are subject to shaky officiating because they break up their regular season crews for the playoffs.  The result is supposed to be an “all-star team” of officials.  The actual result is more like watching the Pro Bowl.  But don’t expect the NFL to fix it.

According to them, there’s never been anything wrong.


This Week’s Sucked And Won

Justin Forsett, RB (BAL).  16 carries for 40 yards (2.5 YPC) plus 1 catch for 7 yards and a fumble.  He’s looked better.

If this week’s playoff games seemed like a bit of a letdown to you, you probably weren’t alone.  The Steelers took the field without LeVeon Bell, the Bengals had to play without AJ Green and don’t even get me started on all the Cardinals who weren’t available for action.

In fact, the God-awful quarterback play Arizona suffered through at the end of the season makes me think that the NFL should change the roster rules for quarterbacks and allow teams to carry 4 QBs exempt from roster restrictions.  That would allow every team to carry both a developmental young player AND a veteran who would be available if both the starter and backup were to get injured in front of him.

What I saw in Carolina this weekend should NEVER represent NFL playoff football.  Never.


This Week’s Great But Lost

Antonio Brown, WR (PIT).  9 catches for 117 yards might seem like just another day at the office for the NFL’s receiving leader, but keep in mind that Pittsburgh couldn’t run the ball to save its life this week, putting all of the focus on the passing game.  Brown came through anyway, as if everything was business as usual.


What road team has the best chance to win this weekend?

My guess is the one that won last weekend.  The Baltimore Ravens may be playing arguably the NFL’s best team in the New England Patriots, but the Ravens are 2-1 in the playoffs at New England and absolutely will not be intimidated going in.

Then consider the alternatives:  no one goes into Seattle and wins.  No one.

Same deal with Green Bay, where Aaron Rodgers plays like a cross between Johnny Unitas and Superman.

But maybe you think Andrew Luck has a chance to beat the guy he replaced.  Well, he tried that the first week of the season and his Colts were down 31-10 before scoring a couple of late TD’s to make it look respectable.

Featured image via Zimbio