While New England Patriots fans rejoiced following a nail-biting victory over the staunch Jaguars defense (and a shockingly good Blake Bortles performance), the rest of the country collectively sighed. The Patriots? Again?! Really? . Like any team or player that’s been so good for so long; and especially for a team sometimes marred by controversy (DeflateGate, SpyGate), some conspiracy theories surrounding the referees have blown up on twitter and social media at large. Be it the refs being too friendly, missed calls, or calls that shouldn’t have been made, lots and lots of folks have put on their proverbial tin-foil hats and called foul..or, well, thrown a flag.
Okay, that’s probably a..bad look; seeing impartial referees siding with the winning team so gleefully could rub many fans…especially fans on the losing side, the wrong way. Especially when you consider this play where Earl Thomas hugged a ref…and was promptly penalized.
Additionally, there was only a single penalty called on the Patriots for 10 yards, while the Jaguars were penalized multiple times to the tune of 90 yards; including two massive pass interference calls, a delay of game, and a helmet-to-helmet hit on Rob Gronkowski that knocked him out of the game entirely.
But the called penalties aren’t the end of the referee conspiracy theories. Those with keen eyes on twitter pointed out a blown holding call:
But, as they say in game shows, that’s not all. In addition to ‘weak’ calls and missed calls, those upset with the refs point to a moment following a key Dion Lewis fumble following a sensational trick-pay that almost cost the Patriots the game. Following a forced fumble, the refs whistled Myles Jack down by contact, preventing a return for a likely game-winning touchdown – despite Jack not being down.
And thus the Patriots hate rages. Only in the NFL can a team that by-and-large was considered unfairly punished for Deflate Gate, now be considered such golden boys of the National Football League that the notion the refs are actively helping them win, is a viable theory. Of course, this theory isn’t particularly new. Following a called back Jesse James Touchdown against the Steelers during the regular season, fans complained the NFL was rigged, then, too. Then there was the called back TD against the Bills, too.
Safe to say, people eager to believe there’s something nefarious going on in New England, have ammunition. Regardless, the final whistle has sounded, and the Patriots are on their way to yet another Super Bowl, with two full weeks of anticipation to go along with it. That means endless analysis, theorizing, and yes – conversations regarding just how friendly the Refs are to the Foxboro faithful.Hopefully Seth Wickersham stays out of it.
The Super Bowl kicks off Sunday, February 4th, 2017. Justin Timberlake is the halftime performer, and Gene Seratore, infamous for his index-card measurement skills, will be the head official for the game.
For now, well, here’s this, which somehow manages to be equal parts triumphant and tragic: