Patriots

Controversial calls in Patriots-Chiefs signify larger issue with NFL officiating

Patriots

Sunday's matchup between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs marked another game in which questionable calls by NFL officials overshadowed everything else that happened on the field.

First, there was the premature whistle on Travis Kelce's third-quarter fumble that prevented a scoop-and-score by Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Then, shortly afterward, Pats rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry was ruled out of bounds on a clear touchdown. New England had already used its last challenge on the Kelce fumble, so it couldn't use one to overturn the blown call on Harry's near-TD.

Former Patriots backup QB Matt Cassel shared his thoughts on the second missed call after the game on NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Postgame Live.

 

"They should call that a touchdown, because it's reviewable," Cassel said. "If he's out, you can call him out at the four-yard line. But as soon as you mark him out, and you don't know whether or not he's out, now that's four points off the board."

The poor performance by the refs on Sunday pointed to a much larger issue in the league when it comes to officiating. On Patriots Postgame Live, Albert Breer didn't mince words when talking about the NFL's Senior Vice President of Officiating, Al Riveron.

"Al Riveron has screwed this up so badly," Breer said. "I have heard from so many head coaches that he is the problem and one of the main reasons why there is an adversarial relationship between the referees and the head coaches to the point where the coaches feel like the way that the pass interference reviews are being handled is retaliation for what happened in March.

 

"Part of [Al Riveron's] job is to manage the relationship between the league and the head coaches. That relationship is in such a bad spot. I have absolutely no idea how they can go on with Al Riveron as the head of officiating because we continue to have nights like this, and it continues to be the coaches vs. the officials."

So how can the NFL begin to make strides in the right direction in its officiating department? One idea that has been kicked around plenty is a "sky judge" in the booth who would step in to correct blown calls like the ones in Sunday's Pats-Chiefs game.

Breer is a proponent of that change.

"If you do not think they should put a sky judge in, I don't know what you're watching," Breer said.

"There's a very simple solution to this. Right before the owners meetings I texted 25 head coaches and had 19 responses. 15 of them said they were in favor of a sky judge, I got two nos and two maybes. Head coaches are overwhelmingly in favor of a sky judge ... It's easy, and you have the technology to do it and I've heard people say 'human error,' that's the dumbest thing you could possibly say. It's 2019, you have the technology, use it."

The Patriots are on to Cincinnati as they'll take on the lowly Bengals on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

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