Good Morning, Broncos fans! I'm not sure why I need to clarify yesterday morning's intro, because I thought it was rather clear. But here goes...
Yes, my point was indeed that the officiating played a large role in the outcome of Monday's game. Were their blown calls alone in causing Denver to lose? Of course not. The turnovers helped, as did a dropped interception or two. The pass rush could have been more impactful.
But here's what I find quite amusing regarding the allocation of blame for a loss:
Why is one person's claim that Peyton Manning's three interceptions were the main reason for the loss considered indisputable, while it would be completely invalid to blame the refs?
Both are opinions, and not based in delusion, right? Or is the latter un-American?
Sure, we live in a society where it's expected that people will own up to their mistakes, and not blame others for their own failures. And we all, to some degree, view football in a way that matches our worldview.
Not every game is fairly contested, and not every outcome confirms that one team is better than the other.
Because the Giants won the Super Bowl last year, some will say they were obviously the NFL's best team in 2011, no ifs, ands, or buts about it - simply because they won the title. There's a good chance these folks have Atlas Shrugged in their personal libraries.
Others take a more nuanced view, acknowledging that luck is always a factor, and remembering that prior to the playoffs, the Giants had a rather ho-hum season at 7-7 before winning six straight. There's room in the minds of these people to both say that the Giants were fortunate and deserving champions, but not necessarily the best team.
It seems there's a decent split among the football viewing populace between these viewpoints.
But when it comes to officiating, most criticism - even some of the harshest - comes along with a disqualifier: But I'm not blaming the refs for the loss.
As if one is a lesser person for saying the officials handed the Falcons momentum (and the ball) on Monday night and kept it firmly on their side of the field for almost the entire second quarter, enough to help expand Atlanta's lead from a manageable 10-0 to a highly daunting 20-0 margin.
It's not a claim I often make, that the refs were the key to a game.
I've done so while referring to the Hochuli game, because had the proper (and obvious) call been made, the game would have been over. Sure, Cutler and Royal had to score the touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion. But they never would have gotten the chance to do so, had the officials gotten it right.
There is no theory or presumption here. Right call, game over. That's it.
In the past, blaming the refs has had to be that cut and dried to even be considered - because the regular officials, no matter how much anyone criticizes them, tend to get most calls correct. Their competence prevents them from completely taking over a game, as happened on Monday.
And that's the difference. These replacements are just not good enough. Their judgment calls, especially offensive holding and defensive pass interference, have been atrocious. Illegal contact calls have hardly been made at all, although my eyes nearly popped out when one came the other night. They make terrible calls throughout games. But just because these affect both teams, it's intellectually lazy to say that in a given game, the calls can't favor one team over another.
Referees are always a factor on some level; with the regular guys, that influence is so tiny that it is indeed whiny, homerish, and unreasonable to blame them for a game's outcome. Except for those rare, blatant moments like the Hochuli mess.
Monday was another story, and the refs clearly played a large and improper role.
It's okay to say that. So I'm doing so, again.
Of course, we don't want our players blaming the refs, and publicly, they aren't.
Had Denver gotten the ball back in time for a final heave on Monday night, the stronger arm of Brock Osweiler would have prompted him to replace Peyton Manning. According to Mike Klis, Philip Blake was indeed injured during Friday's practice.
Klis says Ronnie Hillman's hamstring is still not quite 100%, but that he could see action this week, reminds us that Manning did throw some darts later on in the game, and is somehow unwilling to call Jay Cutler obnoxious, perhaps in hopes of writing a book with him someday.
In his weekly podcast, John Elway praises the team's fight and the play of Willis McGahee.
Jeff Legwold says Monday provided a reminder of how great a job Mike Nolan did for Denver in 2009, says Andre Caldwell's been inactive due to his lack of a special teams role, and he lazily notes that the Broncos are about to face the three defenses currently ranked one, two, and three, without acknowledging the Texans (Dolphins, Jags), Pats (Titans, Cards), and Chargers (Raiders, Titans) have faced six horrible offensive teams over the first two weeks.
Mike Florio thinks John Fox will be fined for his treatment of the replacement officials, as if they somehow weren't deserving of his ire.
Here's participation data from Monday.
Houston auditioned seven offensive linemen yesterday.
Legwold could see the Texans throwing to Arian Foster a bunch on Sunday, especially after the Falcons succeeded throwing out of 12 and 21 personnel.
Lindsay Jones says Kubes & Co. will arrive this week in good health, and a defense that's dominated lesser lights in Miami and Jacksonville.
In his weekly film review, Andy Benoit finds a Texans offense that didn't need to do anything fancy against the Jags, and a dominant Houston pass rush.
Jerome Solomon thinks Peyton's 16-2 career record against Houston shouldn't really matter Sunday, and he's right.
The head of the NFLRA sent out an open letter to the NFL, pushing for a resolution to the lockout. But an end to the impasse is not in sight, and Mike Freeman details some behind-the-scenes gaffes, like replacement refs hanging out in the Cowboys locker room.
Former longtime referee Jerry Markbreit says the officiating will get worse as time goes on, not better; some Giants players made clear that they blame the league for what's happened, not the replacement officials themselves. Mike Pereira, Michael Rosenberg, and the Deadspin guys are fed up with the shoddy officiating.
Eli Manning says that as he usually does, he told the Bucs defense he was about to take a knee at the end of Sunday's game, and he was most upset with the Bucs going low on his linemen. Giants DE Justin Tuck called it a "classless play" and claims he wouldn't do the same even if ordered to do so by his own coaches. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones thinks kneeldown plays should be outlawed altogether.
Along with DE Andre Carter, the Raiders worked out four cornerbacks yesterday; New England brought back WR Deion Branch yet again and waived WR Greg Salas; Cincy placed DE Jamaal Anderson on IR and replaced him with DE Wallace Gilberry.
HOFer Earl Campbell is undergoing nerve treatment but has thankfully been cleared of any fears that he has Lou Gehrig's Disease.
More tributes are flowing in following the loss of Steve Sabol, from the New York Times, Peter King, Doug Farrar, John Clayton, Richard Sandomir, Jerry McDonald, and a few NFL personalities. Plus, an article from the Atlantic profiled Steve and his
late (note: I am a terrible person) father Ed, published just before Steve's passing.
Mike Tanier answers questions in his mailbag, declaring Shanny & Co. screwed without Brian Orakpo.
A radio host in Kansas City announced in a rant yesterday that the Chiefs "suck" and "give people nothing to live for." Sounds about right.
Teebs says he may consider a turn to politics after his NFL career is over (probably much sooner than he thinks), and his favorite Manhattan activity is seeing Broadway shows.