NFL officiating has been under fire this season, with controversial and questionable calls altering the momentum of games and even impacting the outcome. There were two calls like that in the Chicago Bears' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday, a low block call that wiped a Bears TD off the board as well as a taunting penalty.
And now we have another questionable game-altering penalty. This time, the New Orleans Saints were on the losing end of a roughing the passer call in the second quarter of their game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Saints had captured an interception thrown by Titans QB Ryan Tannehill, which was then reversed when the refs decided Tannehill had been roughed via a hit to the head.
this is RIDICULOUS 😡😡
ref called this a “blow to the helmet of the QB”
took away a Saints interception & gave the Titans 1st & goal pic.twitter.com/AYmNFRvQS1
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) November 14, 2021
Here’s the roughing call on Kaden Elliss for a “hit to the head” that negated Marcus Williams’ interception in the end zone.
What, exactly, are you supposed to do as a defender here? #Saints pic.twitter.com/isqAlTCXqt
— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) November 14, 2021
If you can see a hit to the head on that tackle, call up the NFL and tell them they've found their newest referee. Multiple angles of the "hit" show Saints linebacker Kaden Elliss making incidental contact with Tannehill's helmet, maybe grazing it with the tips of his fingers. But it's clear that the target is Tannehill's back, which is where the hit actually lands.
But the referees saw what they saw. The call wiped away the interception and let the Titans continue their drive down the field, which resulted in a touchdown. Maybe in a few days NFL Network's Ian Rapoport will report that the officiating department biffed that penalty, which is exactly what he did on Sunday regarding the Bears-Steelers game. That might be satisfying on some level, but unless it comes with a time machine so the call can actually be fixed, it's pretty much useless.