It seems like the NFL is content with continuing to downgrade the Philadelphia Eagles' Week 13 game against the New England Patriots. Originally this game was supposed to be in the national spotlight as America's Game Of The Week, but it was flexed out for the Carolina Panthers versus New Orleans Saints game. Now, according to Pro Football Talk, the NFL is assigning the referees who screwed up in the Cardinals-49ers Week 12 game to this Eagles-Patriots matchup. Pete Morelli's crew was originally scheduled to work on Sunday Night Football this week before they were moved to Philadelphia's game instead.
So what made Morelli's crew so bad last week? Here's some insight:
Morelli's crew was an absolute train wreck on Sunday. Their mistake on Quinton Dial's roughing penalty was egregious, but it was nothing compared to the embarrassment of taking ten minutes to figure out whether or not it was third down early in the game. They had numerous instances of embarrassing behavior that has no business on the football field.
Here's a longer history of the failures by Morelli's crew, via ESPN:
There were a combined 20 penalties in the game. During Arizona's first series of the second half, San Francisco committed five penalties, including four pass interferences and an illegal hands to the face, as the Cardinals reached the end zone on their way to a 19-13 win.
The 49ers were flagged 13 times for 81 yards, including a costly roughing-the-passer flag on the winning drive.
"I'm not really too worried about getting fined -- I thought those refs sucked," 49ers left guard Alex Boone said in the locker room Sunday.
"If you don't like what we say, then don't like what we say -- don't throw a flag for it. That's what I'm sick about this league," he added. "This is supposed to be a man's game. Be a man. That's what pisses me off, because guys like that work in this league and work on that field, and we have to deal with it. Whatever."
On Oct. 12, side judge Rob Vernatchi from Morelli's crew was suspended for one game for not properly keeping track of the game clock in a Pittsburgh-San Diego game. At the time, the league said the error would impact the full-season evaluation of Morelli's crew.
Morelli was also the referee during last season's Lions-Cowboys playoff game in which a crucial pass interference penalty was overturned. The Lions punted after the sequence, and the Cowboys drove to the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. After the game, Morelli acknowledged he should have waited longer to announce the penalty. He also announced there was no penalty but never explained why the flag was picked up.
The Eagles are a bad football team right now so if/when they lose, it's probably not going to be because of poor officiating. And that's probably exactly why the NFL put these refs on this game. They know bad calls will be less magnified as the Patriots whoop the Eagles.
... or maybe the refs will screw up so bad as to help the Eagles win somehow?!