NFL Referees are ruining games


Atreyu Hinckley, Staff Writer

The NFL is starting to see a referee problem now more than ever. With the many additions of rules on tackling have been changed to prevent bad injuries, primarily for the Quarterback position, penalty flags have been thrown more frequently. This season, there have been more ‘Roughing the Passer’ penalties thrown in games and a lot of them have been head scratchers that altered the outcome of some games.

During Week five of the 2022 NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted the Atlanta Falcons. It was a close game, with the Bucs leading 21-15 with three minutes to go. On 3rd and 5, Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett sacked Bucs quarterback Tom Brady. On replay, it was a textbook sack, where Jarrett tackles and cleanly throws Brady on the ground to prevent falling on him, which would usually result in a “Roughing the Passer” penalty. Alas, a penalty flag was thrown, and it was called roughing the passer.

Jarrett could not have made the tackle any cleaner, and yet he was called for roughing Brady. What would have made it a loss of yards, 4th down, and the Bucs punting away to give the Falcons a chance to try and win the game with time left, turned into a new set of downs for the Buccaneers and ultimately the win. If you also look closely on the replay of the sack, you could see Brady try to kick Jarrett off of him, but no flag was called on him. Many speculate it is because Brady is easily the face of the NFL, and they will protect him at all cost. You just cannot help but be infuriated not only for the Falcons, but for Jarrett who made an outstanding play that was nullified due to a penalty.

Just one day later, we saw the Kansas City Chiefs host the Las Vegas Raiders. With the Chiefs trailing 17-7 with over a minute to go in the first half, defensive tackle Chris Jones pushed through the Raiders offensive line to get a sack on quarterback Derek Carr. Not only did he get the sack, but he stripped the ball from Carr’s hands for a fumble recovery. The play was called dead, however, because a flag was thrown during the play.

After a minute of the referees talking, Jones was called for, you guessed it, roughing the passer. On replay, Jones was falling forward on Carr, but angled his body to the right of Carr to prevent putting his body weight on him, and immediately tried to get off Carr as quickly as he could. On a tackle play like that where Jones had nothing but forward momentum going towards Carr, he couldn’t have tackled him any cleaner.

I’m a 49ers fan, and still have salt over losing to the Chiefs in the Superbowl back in 2020. After seeing that play get flagged for roughing the passer, I was yelling at the TV for a good 10 minutes along with the 70,000+ Chiefs fans at Arrowhead stadium. It’s one thing to take the sack away, it’s another when it was also fumble recovery for a turnover, where the Chiefs could have done something with a minute to go had a flag had not been thrown. The Chiefs managed to win the game 30-29, but the roughing the passer flag on Jones was one of the worst non-penalties thrown all season.

There has been much speculation by fans that the overabundance of roughing the passer calls increased that week because a week prior to these games, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins suffered a scary injury that I had the displeasure of watching on live TV. He was sacked by nose tackle Josh Tupou of the Cincinnati Bengals, and tackled head first on the ground. Tagovailoa’s fingers and arms were locked into place, and he had to be stretchered off the field. He was hospitalized and was ruled with a concussion.

As tough of an injury as it was that Tagovailoa is still recovering from, this was more negligence by the medical staff of the Miami Dolphins than it was the tackle by Tupou. Prior to this game, Tagovailoa clearly was not well and was showing concussion-like symptoms against the Buffalo Bills, yet was still kept in the game. With just 3 days rest, the Dolphins still let Tagovailoa start against the Bengals, and this was the result.

If the NFL cared more about the injuries of certain players, they need to be more clear on what may or may not result in flags and are deemed rough tackles, because the referees don’t have a clue. When you compare the two sacks by Jarrett and Jones, the flags contradict because if you switch the way both players made their tackles, it would have resulted in a flag anyways. So what are defensive players supposed to do? Tap the quarterback on their shoulder pads and say “tag you’re it, bud,” in order to sack the quarterback? 

As an avid fan of football, these excessive flags are making it unbearable to watch sometimes. I It is not only fair to the teams that get affected by these bad calls, but to the fans of the game as well.