Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know, you never want to make it about the officials. It's petty, it's weak, and it's the mark of sore losers.
Especially when you turn the ball over four times within a quarter. Well, three times, if the referees had even the slightest clue on Knowshon Moreno's fumble.
See? There we go.
The story of Denver's 27-21 loss (Gamebook) was going to be Peyton Manning's three early interceptions, but the defense held Atlanta to just 10 points following those inexcusable gaffes.
From there, the Ginger Hammer's so-called "competent" replacement officials took over.
First, the Keystone Cops gave Atlanta the ball after Moreno's fumble, when Eric Decker had clearly been the first to fall on the ball. Orlando Franklin even emerged from the pile with the ball, but to no avail. Somehow, some way, possession went to the home team.
This blown call did two things: it shortcircuited a promising Denver drive, and the ensuing possession resulted in three more points for Atlanta. There's a swing of potentially six or ten points, and who knows where the game would have gone from there.
On the Falcons' next turn with the ball, Tony Carter was called for a phantom pass interference penalty on 2nd-and-7 from the Atlanta 30. Instead of what clearly should have been 3rd-and-7 from the Falcons 30, the ball was on Atlanta's 48-yard line, first down and ten.
A staggering difference.
Momentum was Atlanta's, and eventually, the Falcons couldn't help but take advantage of the horrendous officiating. Four turnovers weren't enough for them to blow the game open, but these calls helped Atlanta stretch their lead to a 20-point lead.
Could the defense have prevented the subsequent Falcons touchdown from there? Surely, they could have. Atlanta's last score was for the most part unaided by the officials, but for a ridiculous holding call on Champ Bailey inside the red zone. Yet, there's only so much a defense can overcome.
Perhaps the blown calls, the imaginary infractions, and the countless minutes spent reviewing them wouldn't have been such a big deal had Manning not thrown those three early picks.
But eventually, these officiating debacles were just too much, and they resulted in the Denver defense spending more time on the field than the quality of their play would have otherwise dictated.
We can be all macho about what happened last night (which, by the way, is really strange when it's fans speaking on behalf of a team), but let's instead be honest - the officials played a huge role in the outcome of last night's game.
Otherwise, the Denver defense was stellar, and the offense was able to rally late - once the officials stopped exerting their will on the game.
As for the biggest star of the night for the Broncos, that honor has to go to the replay official up in the booth. Their clear-cut reversals overturned Michael Turner's early would-be touchdown run (even though he scored on the next play), a ridiculous PI call thanks to a tipped pass, and helped Demaryius Thomas's TD catch count after the side judge blew a call that was right in front of him and plain as day (what with the chalk flying up after Thomas got his toe down).
Actual turnovers aside, it sure would be nice to see a Denver safety come up with interception, like the would-be pick-six that Rahim Moore dropped when the score was still 10-0.
Joe Mays left briefly with leg cramps; as of last night, his was the only injury announced for Denver.
Videos: highlights from NFLN and BTV; John Fox, Peyton Manning, and several others spoke after the game; here are some quotes from them, but since it's the team site, there is zero mention of the officiating.
Peyton says his trio of giveaways were a matter of poor decision-making, and not a question of arm strength. But they were ugly throws, too. Manning passed John Elway on the all-time career pass attempts list; he's now third, behind Brett Favre and Dan Marino.
Elvis Dumervil reportedly plans to sue the City of Miami and the Miami PD for false arrest and defamation, in connection with the weapons arrest over the summer which went uncharged.
Woody Paige agrees that the officiating was too much for Denver to overcome; Mark Kiszla says the refs lost control of the game, and at least Demaryius Thomas was willing to speak up about their gaffes.
Dave Krieger thankfully transcribed a blunt postgame statement from Steve Young regarding the officiating:
I can say this because league officials have gone to sleep, so let me just go right at this. There's a lot of people in the league that would rather break the (referees') union. There's a lot of people who don't feel like officiating is on-field personnel; they feel like it's a commodity.
But more importantly, everything about the NFL now is inelastic for demand. There's nothing they can do to hurt the demand for the game. So the bottom line is they don't care. Player safety doesn't matter in this case. Bring in Division III officials -- doesn't matter. Because in the end you're still going to watch the game. We're going to all complain and moan and gripe and say there's all these problems. All the coaches will say it, the players will say it. Doesn't matter. So just go ahead, gripe all you want. I'm going to rest. Let them eat cake.
Here's video of what Young & Co. had to say, via Judy Battista; Ashley Fox thinks players should be able to criticize the officiating from last night and not have to deal with any fines from the league; several high-profile media members chimed in via Twitter.
So, while the replacement officials were taking center stage yesterday, the Ginger Hammer was busy meeting with Jonathan Vilma about the Saints and their alleged bounty system. Integrity of the game, huh?
With Aaron Hernandez out for a while, the Patriots have signed TE Kellen Winslow to a one-year contract.
Since the league obviously did little diligence before assigning a Saints fan to officiate a Saints game this weekend, they're deciding to do so now. Way to go, NFL.
PFF's analysts go over Sunday's Texans/Jags, Chiefs/Bills, and Raiders/Dolphins games; Mike Tanier explains how Juan Castillo has turned the Eagles defense around; Matt Bowen breaks down a 40-yard run by Cam Newton out of a triple option.
Chase Stuart considers the bizarreness of teams historically faring better after trailing by 9 points than by 8.
Below this story about some loser Chiefs/Chargers/Raiders fan is one of the more creative Broncos-related comments in history.