Mike Zimmer bites tongue on officiating gaffes

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On Thanksgiving, the Vikings beat not only the 11 players in Honolulu blue and silver but also the folks in black and white stripes.

At least three horrible calls from referee Tony Corrente’s crew helped open the door for a potential Detroit Lions comeback. From a catch by receiver Kenny Golladay that set up a touchdown that cut the score at the half from 20-3 to 20-10 (the ball hit the ground and moved, and it was much more clear and obvious that the Zach Miller reversal from earlier in the season) to a horrific pass interference non-call when receiver Stefon Diggs was mugged as the ball was landing on what would have helped the Vikings stretch the lead to 30-13 or 34-13 to a goofy taunting call on quarterback Case Keenum for flipping the ball in the direction of Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, it almost seemed as if the officials were trying to give the game to the home team.

After the game, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer stopped short, somehow, of getting himself in trouble with the league office.

“We almost lost our composure a couple times,” Zimmer said. “We study each crew going into the game. I told them it could be like this today. They’ve got to play clean, smart football and (long, awkward pause] . . . I shouldn’t say anything else.”

I’ll say it for him. It was bad enough to trigger two thoughts. One, pass interference must be reviewable. Even though it’s inherently a judgment call, sometimes it’s clear and obvious that the judgment was applied completely incorrectly. Second, while I’m a firm believer that the fix is never in, moments like this make me wonder whether the ratings dip has resulted in an unspoken message to give calls to a team that is on the verge of getting blown out, in order to help avoid it. And if I’m wondering, other people are, too.

Several years ago, the Commissioner admitted that he always roots for the team that is trailing. At the time he said it, the league continued to be in unchecked growth mode. Now that the pie is shrinking, maybe it makes sense to find a not-so-subtle way to keep games closer.

That said, I still don’t believe it’s happening. Incompetence in these matters is always a more reasonable explanation than design. But with mistakes that are so obvious and with limited procedures for fixing them, it’s not crazy to at least wonder whether human error is being steered a certain way. To avoid that kind of thinking, the league needs to be committed to correcting all correctable errors.

75 responses to “Mike Zimmer bites tongue on officiating gaffes

  1. It’s obvious the league wants to try keep games close via biased officiating. The NFL is ruining the NFL.

  2. Multiple horrible calls nearly cost the Vikings the win. It shouldn’t have been that close. Almost surprised me they caught the offsides on the last minute blocked FG.

  3. Why does the NFL WANT the officials calling such tight games? What fans want that? This needs to stop, it’s ruining the NFL. We don’t need over 20 accepted penalties a game. NO ONE aside from the league office wants that. Is it a control thing? Anyone have any ideas? Most of these calls are not penalties.

  4. The biggest threat to the NFL product is the officiating. When everybody at home and in the stadium knows the call BUT the Refs, that is a bad sign.

    The spot of the ball also seems to perhaps be better decided by the league officials from NY, lots of angles on camera and better optics? I can’t believe a coach has to use a challenge just to correct the spot sometimes.

    I do think they need to replace most of the officials with guys in their 20s and 30s? So they can run and keep up with the action.

    I also think the hoodie has a point–he wants everything to be subject to instant replay. Phantom Pass interference, holding, personal fouls that aren’t, offensive PI that isn’t.

    And stop with the damn touchback thing.

    Maybe more goal line cameras or a sensor on the ball so they can give a real judgment on whether there was a score.

    I guess the only draw back is that a lot more PI would be called, since CBs do hold, but they know how to hold so the ref can’t see it. On replay nothing can be hidden. Nothing I tell you!

  5. Also in the post lockout/Crosby era of a hockey it’s well known that officials agenda is to keep games close. For years now. It’s not that far fetched of an idea that it’s happening now. Especially with that cretin Goodell running things.

  6. I can’t remember but wasn’t the Golladay catch reviewed? And did the taunting penalty lead to anything? It was 4th down regardless if I remember right, did the Lions even kick a FG, and if they did, would the penalty yardage of mattered for Prater?

    Regardless, Minnesota has the better coach and the better team. Caldwell should be unemployed and the league needs to fix the officiating problem, by firing the bad refs and rewriting the rule book so things make sense.

  7. That was like watching a team (any team) playing against the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers. LT guilty of multiple holds, different set of standards on how the DB’s can play, and the referee interjecting himself to manufacture points with short time at the end of the half.

    Makes the victory even more satisfying.

  8. There was also the Stafford fumble when Everson Griffin sacked him which appeared to be recovered by the Vikings. The next play Detroit kicks a 50 field goal.

  9. I do not think the refs In this game were any different than every other Vikes game I have ever seen.

  10. I am the furthest thing from a conspiracy theorist, but when you see games like this you can’t help but wonder if the refs are trying to steer a game. Admittedly, I’m a Vikings fan so maybe I’m just being biased but it sure seemed like the refs had an agenda today.

  11. I think there are too many complicated rules and needlessly complicated “What iffs”!
    I believe the Refs should be penalized with suspensions/fines for flagrant mis-calls
    just like players.

  12. The Miami TB game last week was horrific as well. The officials need to be held accountable.
    Wins and losses are getting people fired and cut so why wouldn’t refs be held to that standard???

  13. Get rid of those officiating clowns. It’s beyond embarrassment that they’re officiating the pro-football.

  14. Today was so like the 2009 NFC Championship when roughing the passing on Favre was ignored and a phantom PI in overtime. Wondered then if the fix was in due to Katrina to give NO the Superbowl. Hi/Low hits were a point of emphasis that year and it’s ignored in the biggest conference game? Well, today the Viking were good enough to beat both the Lions and Official, much to the dismay of Joe Buck announcing the game..

  15. Thing is, Roger, the casual fans watch football because they’re hanging out with us actual fans. You start screwing around and trying to fix games, us actual fans will lose interest, and the casual fans will follow.

  16. The NFL is messed up. Almost unwatchable.

    The flags, the commercials, the spoiled brats who play, the disrespect for our flag?

    Dying fast!

  17. The NFL can start by having these ignorant, biased POS held accountable instead of protecting them and fining anyone who says anything about the officiating.

    These incompetent so called professionals will continue to do it until the league takes the power away from them. This is the crap that is turning fans away from the game, and they have only themselves to blame for it.

  18. Forget the Golladay catch. The Jones TD before the half was worse. Called a TD on the field just so it could be reviewed, then they didn’t overturn it even though common sense would have told you it wasn’t a TD when you looked at it on replay. Officials routinely botch replay to the point that I wish it wasn’t used any more.

  19. “That said, I still don’t believe it’s happening.”

    I understand this perspective. Nobody wants to believe that a league would alter the officiating of a game to keep it close. But when you consider how many people watch these games on Thanksgiving, a blowout by halftime means the literal loss of millions of dollars of revenue to the league. Like most mysteries in life, you just have to follow the money.

    I have no skin in the game here and that was one of the most atrocious, one-sided officiating jobs I’ve ever seen. The way the 2nd half was officiated put serious doubt in my head about the honesty and character of this league.

  20. They need to abolish replay, it’s stupid and slows the game down. Plus, it’s made officiating worse. Nobody knows what a catch is anymore.

  21. Tony Corrente and his crew. umpire Alan Eck, down judge Patrick Turner, line judge Bart Longson, field judge Buddy Horton, side judge Ryan Dickson, and back judge Todd Prukop. horrible team…. they legit gave the bucs a win last week vs the Dolphins

  22. Even Mike Pereira pointed out the multiple bad calls by Tony Corrente & crew (and Corrente was best man at his wedding). The worst part is that there are no real repercussions for the officials. They don’t get fined for missed calls and they rarely get fired. About the only ‘penalty’ is if their grades are low enough, they don’t get to officiate in the playoffs. After today’s performance, it’s pretty safe to say we won’t be seeing Tony Corrente’s crew in the post-season any time soon.

  23. Mark Cuban years ago said the NFL was going down in a few years. Back then I laughed it off, now not so much. Maybe he was on to something.

  24. The Diggs not call was it for me. It was so obviously called in favor of Detroit there could be no other explanation than officiating bias. And such garbage happens in most every game. Officiating determines who wins and loses more times than the players.

  25. Chew on this for a moment, the average salary is right about 200k for a NFL official!!! 200K with zero accountability!!! 16 weeks plus some postseason and preseason for 200k!!! So for some only 20 weeks for 200k. And they still don’t get it right!!

  26. So glad somebody said it! Today reminded me of some of the packer games in the past where the calls were so obviously favored to the packers it was sickening, then the next day the nfl sends out the “whoopsie daisy” letter to the Vikings admitting the calls were wrong.

  27. Doesn’t Zimmer always defer comment until he catches the game film with his good eye?

  28. i remember a game back in 2003….vikings at packers in lambeau. mike tice was so pissed he sent the tape into the league office…they came back and said 8 penalties that went the packers way were called wrong .. 8!!!! not one or 2 but 8!!!

  29. During keenum’s presser, he acted like he was trying to own his taunting penalty. But, he also acted confused by it. You can see he’s a big leader on this team. He knows he didn’t do anything wrong, but he’s owning it, and showing accountability. He’s taking blame for some of the pressure, basically any bad play the offense has, he’s trying to take blame for it. Wouldn’t surprise me if the defense falters, and keenum tries to take accountability for that as well. He’s being a true leader here, and won’t throw anyone, whether it’s a teammate, or coach under the bus….

    Complete opposite of that diva east of here that’s got a bunch of screws holding humpty back together again.

    Love keenums attitude. Even when the lions, the stripes, and the crowd are against him and the team, he’s wanting the win badly enough to get it.

  30. The Golladay play was not a catch! The non pass interference on Diggs was absurd.
    Hey sphincterorleaveher! How you been? It’s cc from VT. Drop by, say hey sometimes.

  31. He may firmly believe that the fix is never in but
    Is it possible for someone to grow-up in this country and become an NFL official without any influence whatsoever? Family or friends having a favorite team or disliking a particular team? That influence may make the difference whether a ref throws a flag or doesn’t throw a flag which was clearly evident in the Vikings/Lions game.

  32. Well, if you saw Redskins/Saints last week, you could make a case that the officiating was less-than-stellar there too. But the job that this crew did today was really over to the top incompetent….or……something

  33. “But with mistakes that are so obvious and with limited procedures for fixing them, it’s not crazy to at least wonder whether human error is being steered a certain way.”

    Except it was Tony Corrente’s crew. If the intent was to steer the game a certain way you can bet with that crew on the field it would go 180° the other way

  34. Something was wrong in the way the kicks were blocked. Did anyone notice that? The worst was that Darius Slay was blamming the refs over the offside call on the blocked kick. LOL

  35. with the amount of money involved how can you believe the refs don’t massage the game a little? prime example is the super bowl. if the falcons kept pouring it on at the start of the third quarter and casual fans started tuning out, how pissed off are the companies who paid millions to advertise and just lost 30% of the viewers? just food for thought.

  36. So what if the product continues to deteriorate? As long as the social justice warriors are appeased all is well

  37. The miami/tb game was way worse. It was like we got newly signed referees. When a player in the league for only two years knows the rules more than the refs – that tells you something. Here we have rules that are decades old – if a player knocks a player backwards its no longer forward progress. Forward progress stops when you touch an opposing player. Phillips safety was a safety due to non-forward progress everyone in that stadium knew that rule – but the refs. Unreal.

  38. I think it would be wise if they created an “expert” in pass interference that could help the refs in each game. It can’t be a ticky tack call, and yet balls that would have otherwise been caught warrant the flag. The Diggs non-call was a no-brainer, classic pass interference that the rule was designed for. It drives me crazy because the Browns are constantly getting marginal pass interference calls against them and they seldom benefit from the calls themselves.

  39. In defence of the refs, flipping the ball at a guy is considered taunting by the NFL, so that technically wasn’t a bad call. Considering the intent, though, if they had left it alone it’d have been a good non-call, because Keenum clearly didn’t mean to flip it at the guy. Correctly enforced by the strict wording of the rules, though. It doesn’t excuse all the other bad calls in this game, nor the history of questionable decisions by this crew thus far this season. Hopefully, the NFL will do something about it, if not now, but at the end of the season.

  40. The Non Pass interference call was followed by the sack and taunting penalty. That led to a horrible field position on the punt and immediately led to the TD that cut the lead to 4. It was a huge momentum shift. When the announcers said the official started to reach for the flag but stopped-you have the wonder what held him back? And this was following the series where Rhodes was called for a PI that wasn’t. Just a bad game by these officials all around.

  41. my whole life I could call the penalty just by watching the game. Remember this was usually on an old TV with low definition. You could see and call it and usually be right on. Now no one knows what a PI is. 20 years ago I knew what a catch was now…who knows. The NFL was enjoyable when the casual fan knew the rules and the game is played by the rules. Now every week I watch and relearn and try to figure out what is being called and why. IMO the NFL needs to come out and make clear understandable rules that the fans can follow along with at home. Fans are leaving due to a game that has changed its rules and left the fan wondering what is a penalty? What is a PI? Why is a hit on the hip of A Rodgers a Penalty but other QBs can get blasted up high and no call? I still watch and my Vikings are killing it right now but if things don’t turn around football will be gone in 10 years.

  42. I think that you people need to recognize that officiating a game is entirely different than playing one on your gaming devices. I’m a former player and coach (though not at the NFL level) and I have to say that some of this conspiracy around every corner stuff is just plain laughable. Again, I offer up that real, live NFL football is NOT a Madden game.

    I watched every moment of that game and I’ll tell you point blank youngsters, every one of the calls made or missed that has been whined about here weren’t as blatant as you make them out to be…and I speak as a fan of the game since before most of you gamers were born and most certainly, I predate Madden and ESPN.

  43. Oh boo hoo…you want to talk getting screwed, look up the Seahawk penalty differential. They are #1 and more than the next 2 teams on the list combined. When you watch the refs on these plays…..it’s obvious they are only watching to penalize 1 team.

  44. It hasn’t just been this game the Vikings have been dealing with this season. During their first game against Detroit, tons of missed calls and ridiculous calls came up from Walt Anderson’s crew (and he’s supposedly one of the best in the league). I am also sympathetic for the incorrect calls from the league office negating touchdowns for the Jets against the Patriots, and the Bears against the Saints. Fans love football, love their teams, and are willing to spend some money on tickets and tax dollars on new stadiums. The least the NFL could do is not pre-determine and pimp specific teams for the playoffs and championships.

  45. we’ve been dealing with this crap for decades, it sure did seem like the green bay refs were out in full force yesterday. Usually though we’re actually playing the Packers when they’re that bad and clearly favoring the opponent. Oh well. 9-2!

  46. Also, don’t forget the phantom facemask call that went against the Vikings.
    The NFL has for a long time tried to prevent the Vikings from winning.

  47. I am a firm believer that the refs are directed to sway games. Whether it’s the NFL doing it or Vegas betters, I don’t know but it is the only possible explanation for the way the 2009 NFC Championship game unfolded.

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