NFL tells refs to call the playoffs the same as the regular season


Should referees approach the playoffs with an attitude of getting out of the way and letting the players play? Not according to the league office, which says officials are instructed to call playoff games the same way they call regular-season games.

NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said in a video distributed to the media that although the NFL saw a decline in penalties per game from the regular season into the wild card round, that isn’t the intent of the league. Instead, Blandino has told his officials that a penalty in the regular season should be a penalty in the playoffs, and a play they’d let go in the regular season should be a play they let go in the playoffs.

“The philosophy in the postseason, the direction is no different from the regular season when we talk with our officials,” Blandino said. “We want them to call the game the same way. I know fouls were down this weekend, but the direction is the same, we want them to call the game the same way all year. We’ve told our officials, don’t be overly technical, we don’t want to call what you’d consider ticky-tack fouls. We want to make sure the fouls are there and we’re getting flags down when they are there, and not letting teams take advantage or push the envelope. That’s been the direction all year and it will continue to be the direction during the postseason.”

In practice, it doesn’t always appear to play out that way. Sunday’s 49ers-Packers game, in particular, looked like a game in which the officials decided to let a lot of things go. But the NFL’s stance is that the rules don’t change in the playoffs, and the way the officials enforce the rules shouldn’t change, either.

99 responses to “NFL tells refs to call the playoffs the same as the regular season

  1. Maybe the better crews, presumably the crews selected for the playoffs, are the ones who call fewer penalties.

  2. Woooow!! LOL, this is a slap in the face to 49er fans.

    “Blandino has told his officials that a penalty in the regular season should be a penalty in the playoffs”

    Yuuuuup. I agree. I’m still waiting for that BLATANT pass interference call on Crabtree in the Super Bowl last year.

    To put it simply, NFL refs do NOT have the peaches in their pants to call Pass interference in the last 2 minutes of a game..

    Sad really, because it takes a huge low to the integrity of the game.

    Example: Crabtree in the Super Bowl, Gronkowski against the panthers…

    The refs literally can change the outcome of the game by taking away a drive(and thus the momentum) from a team by simply calling a holding call, Pass interference call, defensive illegal contact, and now defenseless player calls.

    The NFL officiating this year was well documented as terrible. And as a NFL lover, It sucks that I’m WAITING for the bad call to happen this week.

    We have the technology, so let’s use it…
    We want technology refs.

  3. I wonder how much of this actually has to do with the teams themselves. What if part of the reason is that most of the teams that make the playoffs were some of the fewer penalized teams during the regular season. I would really want to see the teams’ average penalties per game in the regular season compared to the number of penalties called in the wild card round.

  4. Goodell’s just making sure he can have his precious Brady vs Manning AFC Championship Game that’ll bring in the ratings and ad money. I expect the Pats to either win in a blowout or a 2nd half comeback victory aided by the refs.

  5. I agree that they should call the games the same way, but I would prefer that they call them like they did last weekend all season long.

    With the way they called PI in the end zone during the regular season, those jump balls became virtually impossible to defend legally.

    If you’re going to throw a jump ball into the end zone and let your reciever go up and get it, I say make him earn it and not get it automatically because he’s 6 inches taller than the cornerback and the cornerback can’t touch him.

  6. Oh boy, Carroll and Harbough are both going to have strokes this weekend. Please keep a camera on them.

  7. “NFL tells refs to call the playoffs the same as the regular season”

    So basically we should expect two or three major blown calls that will ultimately impact the outcome of the game? Uh oh.

  8. The Colts “held” their way to a comeback. Not a single call. You expect us to believe the Colts didn’t hold once on offense?

  9. But not last week? Or in the previous super bowl?
    It’s imperfect that I understand. Just be consistent

  10. So,
    Green Bay would be playing today instead of SF…….
    Go look at Pass interference non calls that would have without question would put GB on top
    But. we all know Harbaugh cries like no other….no debating that one…
    but it’s ok……
    there is no crying on football

  11. I’m just praying the Pats don’t win the game after having some penalty help them. I want to watch a clean game with a clear victor.

    Getting really sick of refs throwing the flags for ticky-tacky crap at the end of games. They should only be thrown for blatantly obvious penalties, especially when it comes to pass interference. We’ve won some games on penalties like that and lost some as well.

  12. So I guess they still won’t call PI on Seattle every single play like they should have but didn’t all season long.

  13. Wow. So basically the nfl is admitting that refs make up their minds ahead of time whether they call penalties. If you are not gonna enforce the rules then why have them. Watching the packer niners game last week it was obvious they weren’t calling pass interference. Why? If it’s a foul on day one why isn’t it in the playoffs? Packers would have been blown out had the refs called it properly. Apparently in an attempt to keep games close, the nfl and refs conspire to help the inferior team.

  14. The fact that they had to be told that, is the scary thing. It’s bad enough that the officiating has been terrible, but to suggest that NOW, they have to throw that question into the mix does not bode well for fans or players.

    The one constant is that Brady, Manning, Brees and Luck will get special treatment. That, we can take to the bank.

  15. kingofthenorth92 says: Jan 11, 2014 11:32 AM

    Goodell’s just making sure he can have his precious Brady vs Manning AFC Championship Game that’ll bring in the ratings and ad money. I expect the Pats to either win in a blowout or a 2nd half comeback victory aided by the refs.

    I can also see the NFL wanting a Manning vs. Luck championship. I just hope one day the NFL script writers throw my team a bone.

  16. Drew Brees, between endorsements and salary, is the highest earner in the NFL. There’s NO WAY Goodell is going to let one of his ‘faces of the NFL’ get kicked out of the playoffs because Seadderall’s DBs are going to hold and cheat.. they’re telling the refs to throw the flags on these guys. Seadderall fans aren’t going to be happy.

  17. If they’re going to do that then just tell us who’s going to win so we know if we want to watch.

  18. “Do the same terrible job you do in the regular season in the playoffs… Especially you Jeff Triplette.” – An NFL Exec told Onion Sports

  19. I was watching NFL Today on ESPN this morning and Tedy Bruschi was analyzing how the Pats use Aquib Talib to shut down other teams’ top receivers. There were highlights of him against Julio Jones, Steve Smith, Demaryus Thomas and E.J. Green.

    In every highlight, without exception, Talib blatantly held the receiver. I mean, “reach out and grab a hand full of jersey holding”, not legally jamming the receiver at the line. Some of the holds occurred more than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. It was pretty funny, especially when Bruschi said nothing about what Talib could clearly be seen doing on each highlight.

    So if the refs call the playoff game the same way the called the regular season, expect Talib to hold Hilton the entire game and probably not be called for it.

    I am not saying that Talib is the only DB who holds or that the officials look the other way only for the Pats. Rather, I am saying that if these officials are the best the NFL has for us, it’s pretty sad.

  20. “So, Green Bay would be playing today instead of SF…….Go look at Pass interference non calls that would have without question would put GB on top
    But. we all know Harbaugh cries like no other….no debating that one…”

    Oh, puh-lease!! The most blatant non-call in that game was the choke-hold on McDonald on that 4th down play when Rodgers magically escaped and completed a pass to Cobb. And you watched that game and thought that the missed PI’s were primarily on the Niners’ defenders? You must be kidding.

    Sorry the miracle didn’t happen for your Packers. Get an offensive line and a defense and maybe you’ll be luckier. Oh, I forgot. Thompson is a great GM.

  21. Well, of course the NFL’s favorite team has been eliminated. They don’t need to make ridiculous and absolutely wrong calls in the Packers favor anymore this season. Business as usual now…..what a joke….

  22. I agree. This “Letting them Play” is not fare to players or Ref’s. Not to mention fans like me that are coming off the Couch yelling “He’s Holding!… That’s Pass Interference!” I hope the Seattle CB’s gets the “Amendment!”

  23. Union run league, mafia controlled betting system….this had been mapped out before the season began. Gee, what games are going to get the highest ratings? Seahawks vs niners and patriots vs broncos. There’s the next rounds for you.

  24. It’s probably a good thing to call less penalties, then I don’t have to be annoyed when the QB is rewarded with a 50 yard penalty because he underthrows a ball by 10 yards.

  25. Lol figures, last week was the best week all season in terms of officiating. They didn’t get in the way and only called the obvious penalties. Maybe they just had less penalties because they did indeed eliminate the ticky tack calls? Don’t influence the officials NFL, thanks.

  26. Lol at all the forty whiner fans still crying because their receiver (who wouldn’t have caught the pass anyway) didn’t get a flag. They held the Ravens most of the game taking away at least two more scores and blatantly hitting Flacco out of bounds that could have put the game away. Did I mention they got an extra halftime as well. I’m a fan of any team in the NFC that is not those hypocritical babies.

  27. The league says dont call ticky tack fouls .
    A great example of ignoring a ticky tack foul is not calling a defensive formation penalty on a missed field goal , that had no impact on the play, that would have given the kicking team a second chance that they did not deserve such as in KC vs San Diego game .

  28. Of course they should call the game the same regardless of regular season or playoffs. Calling the games inconsistent is what throws the players off. The real problem is they are inconsistent in the regular season so that just carries over.

  29. If they call it the same for both teams, what difference does it make?

    I see people talking about holding of recievers and PI. Well, holding is only supposed to be called on the DB if the DB alters the route of the reciever. Holding the jersey to make sure you stay close while looking back to see where the ball is happens on every passing play where a DB is close to a receiver.

    We get the benefit today of seeing all these plays over and over in super slow motion from 7 different angles. The refs get to see it once at real time. We, as fans, are being far too critical of the officials. Sure, there are some bad calls, but they mostly get it right.

  30. For those of you who love to criticize the NFL officials for how they call the games, why don’t you apply for an officiating job if you think you could do better?

  31. Blah, blah—– Blandino is a minion of Der Feuer Goodell. Anything that’s keeps eyes on commercials is not only tolerated but encouraged.

  32. well, that’s smart. You should call the game as you have been the entire year… makes complete sense.

    The only issue is, the job done through the first 17 games was not that impressive. Time to go back to school on pass interference and holding

  33. The no calls went both ways in that game. Did you notice how long Aaron Rodgers was holding the ball? That’s because the 49ers DBs were holding and making contact outside of 5 yards all game long.
    The Packers gameplan on offense was to get the ball out fast, the way the refs were calling to game made that game plan unworkable. Credit to the 49ers for adjusting to the refs better than the Packers did. No one knows who would have won that game if they had called it “normally”, but assuming the 49ers would have won in a blowout is incorrect.

  34. Everybody crying about refs not calling penalties against one team or another.

    Please. This was the worst officiated season I’ve seen in almost 50 years of watching the NFL. Every single team had calls in their favor they never should have gotten, and every single team had calls against them that should never have been made.

    Every single team this year got both screwed and helped by the refs at different times.

    There’s also the fact that some coaches just don’t instill much discipline in their players. The teams at the bottom of the most penalties against them list often have very selfish players that commit a lot of personal foul penalties the better teams generally don’t commit.

  35. Translation: you have our blessing to do whatever you can get away with to keep the Seahawks from winning the Super Bowl.

  36. With the exception of the Colts game, it was refreshing to see some defense being played last week. Like everything else good about the league, leave it to Roger & his goons to ruin it!

    Give Roger 10 more years & soccer will become the number 1 sport in America.

  37. It’s about damn time.

    This BS where the refs decide to call what they want to or don’t instead of according to the rules is unethical. This costs team MILLIONS of dollars, like what happened to the Steelers, costing them a playoff spot.

    This shoddy efficiating cost the Niners a SUPERBOWL last year and 2 TD against the Packers last week on the 1st 2 drives of the game.

    The refs arent out there to play god, just enforce the rules as intended.


    They should BAN REFS FOR LIFE for playing god out there.

  38. This is the last thing I wanted to hear coming off a week where the officials stayed out of the way.

    Get ready for pass interference every time the ball is tossed up to a covered receiver.

  39. We will see tonight if the fix is in….the Colts were the least penalized team in the league this season. So if the ticky tack flags start flying against them….and I’m not talking about blatant stuff like personal fouls. Should be interesting

  40. Niner fans, win or lose whine about the refs. Even a week after a win.

    We get it the refs are terrible, but they are for everyone. Example, on the Niners 1st drive, Kaepernick gets sacked bringing up a 4th and 6.

    What do the refs do? They stop both the game clock and the play clock. Watch the tape. So the Niners had time for their offense to run off the field, decide to go for it, run back on the field, huddle up, take their time up to the line, and about 10 to 15 seconds of time for a pre-snap read.

    They had a *full minute* to run their next play. Despite that, Harbaugh was having a seizure about getting the play clock reset as if they were somehow being screwed. Maybe he is rubbing off on the SF fans.

    And whining about being “robbed of a TD” on a drive where your team tried to turn the ball over twice, and had to burn two timeouts because of incompetence is just rich.

  41. Packer fans quit crying. You should have been down 14-0 instead of 6-0 in the first several minutes of the game and you got a td immediately after a mugging allowed a 4th down conversion. Thats a 15 point swing in your favor. Reality is you should have been blown out

  42. The only problem I had with last years Super Bowl Officials wasn’t the last play of the game to Crabtree.. that’s not what cost us the game. It’s the Horrific Non Holding on Bruce Miller #49 by Two Raven’s for 40+ yards on the opening 2nd half TD run. What’s worst it was right were the ball was not away from it. Photo’s clearly showed the Blatant holding if you look at the play. But that’s football… we had to move on. This “Let Them Play” I don’ agree with, call it the same as you have all year. Seattle wouldn’t even be in the playoffs if they were have called Holding on them. They are the Worst Holding CB’s in the League and hey don’t need to do that as they are good. See if they do that today vs Saints strength in passing.

  43. Im fine with the safety changes to stop concussions but we need to go back to old style football when there was a lot of shoving, bumping and pushing.

    There should be much more down field contact.

  44. great, so basically they saod to cheat do whatever you have to do to get my team to win the big one..

    see if this is true this is the NFL for you, this was one of the worst years in NFL officiating history and the cheese head says to keep up the good work..

    why I’m done

    no deisre to fix this sham, see ya

  45. ….if they call one quarter of all the Seahawks defensive holding, they’d never win a agame

  46. Penalties slow the game down. In inclement weather, especially sub-zero, the refs don’t want to be out there any longer than possible. It’s just human nature.

  47. Lot of whiny 49ers fans more worried about last year than cheering for their team this year on this thread. Get over it you lost. Crabtree PI wasn’t “blatent”, if that was blatant, so was the PI on Roddy in the NFC Championship which allowed the 49ers to be in the Super Bowl at all. Cant have it both ways. Quit whining and have your team play better.

  48. Sadly, that will go against any visiting who has Pete Morelli as the official. Colts fans: Pay attention when Morelli makes a bad call regarding pass interference and misses calls if Andrew Luck is hit after the play.

  49. Here come the idiot fans and the stupid complaints about officiating again. Cant wait for the stupidity. Go Zebras!!

  50. nickynick04 says: Jan 11, 2014 11:42 AM

    Green Bay would be playing today instead of SF…….
    Go look at Pass interference non calls that would have without question would put GB on top
    But. we all know Harbaugh cries like no other….no debating that one…
    but it’s ok……
    there is no crying on football


    Let’s see:
    PI on Crabtree twice in the end zone no flags.
    Packers OL holding and practically strangling Ray McDonald while he has a grasp on rogers on a crucial 4th down. No flags.

    You writing this post whining and crying about the officiating. Oh the irony of this post.

    But it’s ok,

    Niners playing tomorrow, packers ice fishing.

  51. lol
    How about they just start allowing the broadcasters to really talk about what the officials are ignoring?
    Call them out on it.

  52. Niner fans had no problem when the refs were giving them playoff games:

    2002 – Last play of the game verus the Giants. Refs botch a PI call after a bad snap because they thought the receiver was ineligible. Giants should have had a chip shot for a win.

    1998 – Jerry Rice, while nowhere close to being down, fumbles and Packers recover. Packers would have taken a knee for win, instead ref ruled Rice was down and Niners went on to win. This play, along with the Testeverde phantom TD are the reason instant replay came back.

    Yet we still have to come on to the internet and listen to complaints about holding calls in the 1st quarter of a game they won.

  53. The obvious solution to this problem is to let refs call all the games like the Playoffs.

    That is, let only the most egregious of fouls be fouls, and let the players play hard, on both sides of the ball.

    How difficult is that?

  54. 49ers fans: Stop crying about the refs in the Packers game last week. They let both teams play.

  55. I hope this is true. A penalty in the reg season should be the same in the playoffs. Why do you play 16 games in order to change the rules? A ref no call decides games just like a call. Just be as consistent as you can!

  56. Oh… so NOW you tell us! Last night we thought we were supposed to follow Belichick’s instructions.. you know.. tripping, roughing the passer, holding, pass interference… all ignored for the the big P.

    Ok, so from now on we’ll be fair! LOL!

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