LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 04: Fred Davis #83 of the Washington Redskins watches a play during a game against the New York Jets at FedExField on December 4, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
The replacement officials have worn out their welcome. It wasn't like they were invited guests to begin with; they were thrust into an untenable situation while the regular officials and the NFL squabbled over money, pensions and the usual stuff that muck up negotiations.
The problem: The replacements are so out of their depth that any anger you initially felt has long since turned to pity. They never stood a chance. And as a consequence, some teams have been on the wrong side of some atrocious officiating and that, you could argue, has affected the final score.
Lost amid Josh Morgan's inability to ignore Cortland Finnegan is a play that took place minutes before. With 4:45 left on the clock and the Redskins facing 2nd and 10 from their own 21-yard line, quarterback Robert Griffin III threw a pass to tight end Fred Davis who was then nearly decapitated by Rams' defensive end Robert Quinn.
No flag was thrown.
“Well, obviously, the flag [needed to be thrown], there’s no question about the flag,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “It’s helmet to helmet. So there’s no question about the flag, but there wasn’t.”
And that's the biggest concern with the replacement officials: It's not that they don't know what holding looks like (though maybe they don't) but that they're not familiar enough with the NFL rules to understand the underlying safety concerns as they relate to the rules. It's one thing for the league to dismiss the idea the the replacements are in over their head. It'll be something else entirely when a marquee player suffers a season-ending injury because someone either didn't know the rules or was afraid to make the call.
More via the Washington Post's Tracee Hamilton:
That was the most egregious of the officiating mistakes in the game, and that’s the one that matters most. It was clearly an illegal hit, the kind the league said it would end, the kind any official worth his stripes would have called. Instead, while the NFL and the union squabble, the health and safety of their players are in jeopardy. (Note to the NFL and the union: Without the players, you’re a bunch of guys in suits. It behooves you to protect them.)
You'd think that go without saying but apparently not.
Hamilton says the officials didn't cost the Redskins the game and we agree with that. Of course, you could argue that the decision to not flag Rams defensive end Chris Long for taunting seconds after Morgan's gaffe would've given kicker Billy Cundiff something closer than a 62-yard attempt.