Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Refs' fallibility on display again

SEATTLE — Richard Sherman took the opportunity last week to criticize NFL officiating for what he deemed incorrect calls, almost daring the league to fine him for being so outspoken.

"Sometimes the truth is the truth, it's the truth," the Seahawks' All-Pro cornerback said. "It is what it is. This is basically reality TV, so I guess I'm good for ratings probably."

It seemed almost fitting that days after making those comments, Sherman was at the center of another officiating flap in Monday night's 31-25 win over the Bills.

Any time Dean Blandino, the NFL's head of officiating, has to send an explanatory tweet during a game about a mistake, it's not a good look for the league.

"We are absolutely going to address it," Blandino told NFL Network late Monday. "Anytime you have a sequence like that at any point during the game, we want to see what happened and just walk through the steps of where the breakdown was."

The latest black eye for the refs came when Walt Anderson's crew chose not to flag Sherman for unnecessary roughness as he attempted to block Dan Carpenter's field goal attempt at the end of the first half. Sherman was penalized for being offside — and was determined to be unabated to the kicker — but the play was not stopped in time to prevent Sherman from getting a piece of the kick and crashing recklessly into Carpenter's legs.

"Whenever it comes to player safety, we want to look at these fouls," Blandino said. "It's something that we stress with our referees when it comes to the quarterbacks and the kickers with roughing the kicker and roughing the passer, so we certainly don't want to miss calls like that."

The fact that no unnecessary roughness call was made created a whole other set of problems — including an injury timeout against Buffalo that forced Carpenter off the field — that weren't handled well by Anderson's crew. Most damaging for the Bills was the play clock not being properly reset as Carpenter lined up for a second attempt, from 48 yards, and Buffalo being called for delay of game. After the 5-yard penalty, Carpenter's attempt was wide right.

That proved critical in the final moments of the game when Buffalo drove inside the Seattle 10 and needed a touchdown rather than just a field goal.

"We're disappointed we didn't pull it out at the end there, but mistakes happen in this league, there's no question about it," Buffalo coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday. "But you know, I think everybody saw what they want to see. And I don't know if I really need to comment any further on it."

Ryan also took umbrage with a Seahawk fans who taunted Buffalo assistant Kathryn Smith.

Rochester's WROC-TV filmed a male fan yelling, "Waitress! Waitress. Can I have a Pepsi, please," at Smith as she walked along the sideline.

"Well, I think that's ridiculous," Ryan said. "I think that's really classless."

In other Bills news, center Eric Wood said he will have surgery today to insert a plate on his broken right fibula. Expected recovery time is 6-8 weeks.

HALL WON'T BUDGE: The Pro Football Hall of Fame released a statement saying it is standing by its policy not to give gold jackets and rings to the families of players inducted posthumously, despite calls to rethink it after criticism from a daughter of late quarterback Ken Stabler.

STEELERS: The thumb injury to All-Pro center and former Gator Maurkice Pouncey is not serious, and coach Mike Tomlin said he could play Sunday.

VIKINGS: The team worked out some kickers but doesn't plan to replace struggling Blair Walsh for the time being, ESPN reported.

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Sunday’s sports on TV/radio

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