MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 4: Head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys talks with referee Don Carey and line judge Carl Johnson #101 during action against the Minnesota Vikings at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on September 4, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Cowboys defeated the Vikings 35-31. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Last week, Wade Phillips emerged from a 17-7 loss in Green Bay incredulous. The officiating, he argued, was suspect, and he was probably right. Officials blew a call on a fumble recovery (regardless of what Mike Pereira says) and, since the ruling is not one subject to review, its stayed that way--blown.
Worse still was the instance in which Mike McCarthy, Packers head coach, pulled a Chris Webber, tossing out the challenge flag when the team was out of challenges. This should have resulted in a fifteen yard personal foul penalty against Green Bay. Instead, it resulted in a drawn-out scene marked by befuddlement and zebras milling about the field aimlessly.
This wasn't exactly the uniform efficiency one might expect from paid authority figures.
During Sunday's game between Dallas and the visiting Washington Redskins, the increasingly seen confused-zebra-crew was back, serving to hold up the game for around ten minutes to decide (a) whether Redskins' quarterback Jason Campbell was out of bounds before he threw the ball away and (b) if they were to assess a delay of game penalty after the playclock went to zeros, before the review was called from upstairs.
If it sounds like a jumbled mess, it was; if you didn't see it live, be glad.
First, it was a 3rd and one from the Dallas 21.
Then, per the delay of game call, it was a 3rd and 6 from the Dallas 26.
Then--no, it's not over--it was announced that the delay of game penalty doesn't count as, ostensibly, the review was called for before the playclock went to zeros. After more confusion, more blank faces, and more milling about, it was decided that it would be 3rd and one from the Dallas 20 yard line. Of course, Shaun Suisham, sufficiently iced, missed the 39-yard field goal to wrap up the ugly scene with more ugliness.
The whole episode took around ten minutes to sort out, greatly reminiscent of last week's phantom challenge debacle. More than any other season in memory, officiating has been subject to widespread criticism of late--for reasons ranging from overt and one-sided quarterback/ superstar-coddling to, as in Dallas's case last week, a seemingly poor grasp of protocol--and it is now slowly approaching National Basketball Association levels.
This is not a good sign.