FOXBORO -- In a game refereed by Jeff Triplette, neither team really wins. They just survive. Sunday would be an example. There were 14 penalties called (felt like 44) and 12 of them were accepted. Eight went against Washington and four against the Patriots. There were also at least two inadvertent flags thrown that Triplette had to wave off. He also seemed to allow the Redskins to challenge two items on one play -- alleging Rob Gronkowski was both down and stepped out on his 49-yard catch-and-run. His incompetency is special legend.He's the moron that hit Orlando Brown in the eye with an official's flag, was deked by a Peyton Manning fake spike,incorrectly explained overtime rules a couple of weeks back, gave this terrific explanation of a play that couldn't be challenged, and injected himself intoSunday's game with three questionable judgment calls on roughing and unnecessary roughness penalties. One call his crew did get correct? The big offensive pass interference on Santana Moss. Check the video. Now check the rule. (The pertinent part is that offensive pass interference can be called anytime after the ball is snapped and that "initiating contact with a defender by shoving or pushing off thus creating a separation in an attempt to catch a pass" is offensive interference). Moss disagreed. He also referenced the flag on London Fletcher for unnecessary roughness when he hit a starting-to-slide Tom Brady. Mike Shanahan also hated that one. (I think I'm the only one on the planet who thinks it was a debatable call but the correct one. Check the :41 and :42-second mark in this video, Brady is clearly starting his slide and Fletcher is still with feet planted. I believe he could have let up, if not pulled up altogether.) We can all get a pitcher and talk these out. But the bottom line is, the officials are too involved in the game. It's impacting the product. It's creating confusion. The story when the game ends is not the competition but the way the game is adjudicated (I don't get enough chances to use that word). There is a solution. Currently, the directive on officials is -- with roughness calls -- to err on the side of safety. It's gone too far. Guesswork and assumptions are the rule and too many of these calls seem to be presumed rather than witnessed. The technology exists to replay quickly. Get a young guy with a fast eye and good thumbs to replay any 15-yarder within 30 seconds of a play being blown dead. If he doesn't see the infraction, play on. If one existed and it was missed, mete out the justice with fines. Fixing the officiating absolutely has to be Job One at the NFL Owners Meetings in March. It's a hard job, a thankless job and one that these 50 and 60-something men do their best on. But the game's too fast, the players are too big and -- with player safety, technology and tens of millions of fans watching -- the pressure's too much. Now watch Triplette get a playoff game.
An ankle injury severely limited Jae Crowder, but he still played a key role in taking down the Cavs.