Maybe the NFL and its officials simply had a bad week, as for the second time in seven days, league referees royally screwed the Patriots. Or maybe the NFL and its officials simply wanted to screw the Patriots out of their undefeated season.
This is not Johnny Most/Tommy Heinsohn/Jack Edwards Boston homerism at play here, because we know this as fact by now – the NFL despises Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the entire Patriots organization.
I mean, would you really put it past Roger Goodell or anyone in the NFL office at this point to get their referees to purposely throw (or not throw) B.S. flags against the Pats?
Against the Bills just last week, the refs literally stole a touchdown from the Patriots with that “inadvertent whistle.” Something like that immediately gets the conspiracy theorists crawling out of the Gillette Stadium woodwork, but against the Broncos on Sunday night, the NFL and its refs doubled-down on the horrendousness.
The fourth quarter offensive pass interference penalty called on Rob Gronkowski that negated a Patriots first down conversion on third-and-5 was an abomination. If that flag is not thrown there, the Patriots are still undefeated right now and you likely wouldn’t have spent your entire Monday morning Googling, “Rob Gronkowski injury update” every two minutes.
If things actually were on the up-and-up Sunday night (again, highly questionable at this point), the ONLY explanation for that call is that Gronkowski is now treated like the NFL’s version of Shaquille O’Neal. In other words, because of his size and the discrepancy in size against other players, Gronkowski is actually at a disadvantage whenever he attempts to do anything physical.
When Gronk touches a 210-pound defensive back with his index finger and the DB goes flying and flopping 10 feet in the air – that is actually believable to NFL officials now. When those same 210-pound DBs go diving at Gronkowski’s knees over and over and over again, those are deemed legal plays – not unsportsmanlike conduct penalties like they should be.
Officials are told ahead of the game to “watch out for this” and to “watch out for that.” When Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak likely told the officials in Denver to watch out for a Gronkowski push off, he was absolutely heard. Given Belichick’s relationship with the league over these past 15 years, however, do you think anyone gives one damn about his issues with these DBs treating Gronk’s knees like they are the sweet spot on a tackling sled?
There were plenty of other questionable calls against the Pats these past two weeks, with Patrick Chung’s fourth quarter defensive holding penalty serving as the 1A to the Gronk call. Maybe the NFL will give the Pats some makeup calls the rest of this regular season, who knows?
Despite all the injuries, the Patriots are still one of the favorites to get to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara. By then, the Mile High Screw Job will likely be forgotten, allowing the NFL and its officials to concoct a fresh way to help the Patriots lose.
Know this - this stuff long ago left tin-foil hat territory. Everyone is well aware that the Patriots want to embarrass the NFL and the NFL wants to embarrass the Patriots. It’s obvious at this point that both sides will go to great lengths to get the last laugh.