When the suddenly stumbling Seattle Seahawks travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium, Seattle safety Earl Thomas is hoping the NFL’s officials stay out of the way.
Following the Seahawks’ 28-26 loss to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday – their second consecutive defeat – Thomas ripped the officials over a fourth-quarter fumble recovery call that the Seahawks felt should have been reviewed and ultimately overturned.
“At least give us a shot,” Thomas told the Seattle Times. “But you know what? I’m not surprised with the referees this season. If you really look at some plays, we’re playing more than our opponents. We’re playing the referees too. I don’t care what anybody is saying. Something is wrong. That needs to be brought up.”
Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, took to Twitter following the game to explain the ruling.
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At end of #SEAvsSTL we looked at all available angles. No evidence of who recovered ball. Ball still loose and then went into pile.— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) October 19, 2014
Player coming out of pile w/loose ball is not a clear recovery. Need video evidence of him gaining possession. Play was reviewed in NY.— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) October 19, 2014
For those asking it was ruled a fumble, not down. Officials ruled STL recovery so by rule ball comes back to spot of fumble.— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) October 19, 2014
Thomas was asked during his locker room session with the media if the officials had offered any on-field explanation to the players following the game.
“There’s never an explanation,” he told the Seattle Times. “It’s kind of crazy how football is turning out now. You give a guy, just because he wears a white and black shirt, he has authority of the game. Man, they need to stay out of it – that’s my key – and let us dominate.”
Although not reviewing a call is clearly not the same as calling a penalty, it's worth looking at which NFL teams have been hit the hardest by penalties this season so as to add a bit of context to Thomas' complaints.
Through Week 7, only Pittsburg (9.5), New England (9.0) and Buffalo (8.7) have averaged more penalties per game than the Seahawks (8.5) and in 2013, no team was hit with more flags than Seattle.
The Panthers rank 11th in the NFL, earning an average of 6.3 flags per game this season. It’ll be interesting to see what effect – if any – Thomas’ words will have on this weekend’s game.