Officiating again the story after mistakes in Seattle's win
SEATTLE (AP) Richard Sherman took the opportunity last week to criticize NFL officiating for what he deemed incorrect calls, almost daring the league to fine him for being so outspoken.
''Sometimes the truth is the truth, it's the truth,'' the All-Pro cornerback said last week. ''It is what it is. This is basically reality TV, so I guess I'm good for ratings probably.''
So it seemed almost fitting that just a few days after making some bold comments, Sherman was at the center of another officiating flap in Monday night's 31-25 win over the Buffalo Bills.
Once again, NFL refs were in the spotlight of a prime-time game that left the league scrambling to provide explanations of what happened and the mistakes that were made.
Any time Dean Blandino, the NFL's head of officiating, has to send an explanatory tweet during a game about a mistake, it's not a good look for the league.
''We are absolutely going to address it,'' Blandino told NFL Network late Monday night. ''Anytime you have a sequence like that at any point during the game, we want to see what happened and just walk through the steps of where the breakdown was. Regardless of the outcome of the game, we are going to address the situation with our crew.''
Officiating controversy and Monday night games in Seattle have become almost a regular occurrence. For the third time in five seasons, the day after a Seattle Monday win was spent breaking down the role of officiating mistakes in the Seahawks' victory.
The latest black eye for the refs came when Walt Anderson's crew chose not to flag Sherman for unnecessary roughness as he attempted to block Dan Carpenter's field goal attempt at the end of the first half. Sherman was penalized for being offside – and was determined to be unabated to the kicker – but the play was not stopped in time to prevent Sherman from getting a piece of the kick and crashing recklessly into Carpenter's legs.
''Whenever it comes to player safety, we want to look at these fouls,'' Blandino said. ''It's something that we stress with our referees when it comes to the quarterbacks and the kickers with roughing the kicker and roughing the passer, so we certainly don't want to miss calls like that.''
The fact that no unnecessary roughness call was made created a whole other set of problems – including an injury timeout against Buffalo that forced Carpenter off the field – that weren't handled well by Anderson's crew. Most damaging for the Bills was the play clock not being properly reset as Carpenter lined up for a second field goal attempt, from 48 yards, and Buffalo being called for delay of game. After the 5-yard penalty, Carpenter's attempt was wide right.
What seemed to be a chaotic mishandling by officials at the time proved critical in the final moments of the fourth quarter when Buffalo drove inside the Seattle 10 and needed a touchdown rather than just a field goal.
''We're disappointed we didn't pull it out at the end there, but mistakes happen in this league, there's no question about it,'' Buffalo coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday. ''But you know, I think everybody saw what they want to see. And I don't know if I really need to comment any further on it.''
In hindsight, there seems to be agreement that Sherman should have been flagged for unnecessary roughness. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said as much on Tuesday morning during his weekly radio show on KIRO-AM in Seattle, while noting that there appeared to be no whistle blown and Sherman was finishing off the play.
''He should avoid the contact if he hears the whistle,'' Carroll said. ''Otherwise, play the play out. Try and block the kick.''
But Anderson, the person in charge of making that call, determined Sherman's actions weren't worthy of the personal foul penalty. Anderson's explanation was that it didn't appear that Sherman had an opportunity to avoid the contact from when the play was ''shut down.''
''One of the things we're just looking for is does the player have a chance to realize that we're shutting the play down from that standpoint and whether or not he has an opportunity to avoid any type of contact once he realizes that we're getting the play shut down,'' Anderson said. ''I know it was loud out there for everybody. That's probably what took us a little bit of time to get everything shut down. But that's what we're looking at.''
AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Buffalo, New York, contributed to this report.
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