For years some fans have insisted that the league and the officials have it out for the Ravens and protect some of their darling teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers. The end of the KC/SD game should forever squash that silly notion. At the end of the game, Ryan Succop the KC kicker doinked a 41 yard FG off of the upright, making him the most hated man in Pittsburgh and giving SD new life in OT. Only one problem. SD had 7 men on one side of the ball. A rule instituted this year makes it illegal to overload one side of the ball with more than 6 men. The NFL admitted today that a flag should have been thrown, the ball moved 5 yards forward and Succop given another chance. No guarantee he would have made it, but what are the odds of a kicker missing two consecutive makeable kicks in that situation? If that wasn't bad enough, in the Chargers tried a fake punt on 4th down at their 27. The ball was stripped from the runner and returned for a TD before he was ever down, but the refs ruled his forward progress had been stopped while he was still moving. Former head of officials Mike Pereira said that his forward progress was not stopped and it should have been KC's ball. The refs may have literrally screwed Pittsburgh out of a playoff spot twice and handed it to San Diego.
Not that Pittsburgh deserves any sympathy. They had bad losses to Tennessee, Minnesota, and Oakland early, and then with a chance to control their own destiny they lost late in the year on their own field to Miami in bad weather. They screwed themselves out of a playoff spot more than the officials did. In fact San Diego was the team of the last 4 alive for the final wild card spot that was the most deserving. They at least won their last 4 games (bad calls aside) to give themselves a chance. The other three teams all lost critical games at times when they could have controlled their own destiny. But it doesn't change the fact that the refs seriously impacted that final playoff spot with a couple of questionable calls yesterday. Hopefully the fact that it was so critical to someone getting in the playoffs will prompt the NFL to finally address their problematic ref situation. Refs should not be deciding games through their calls and too often they do.