I think it's Thursday and I am no closer to peace or acceptance than I was last Sunday. I accept that the game is over and there's nothing that can change the outcome. I cannot make peace with how this game was officiated. To be clear: The referees did not cause the Jaguars to lose this game. Despite every miscue in scheme and execution, they still could have advanced to their first Super Bowl. New England, however, could not have won this game had it been called as it should have been. Every NFL fan should be disgusted with what transpired. Professional wrestling has more integrity.
The Post-Game Narrative: The "error free" Patriots took advantage of opponent's mistakes to stage a comeback victory. Second-half adjustments took the Jaguars' offense out of the game. The wall-to-wall pukefest coverage leading up to the Super Bowl will repeatedly describe Brady and Belichick as the greatest.
The Spoiler: Bullshit. The truth is "the greatest" were getting handled and needed every ounce of help a lopsided officiating crew could provide just to stay in the game. The Patriots converted three third-downs the whole game. The second-half story that won't be told shows large patches of grass where yellow flags should be. They are a well-coached team, but they are not THAT well-coached.
The Aftermath: I heard the same lines repeated over and over. "If you're the best defense in the league, don't blow a two-score lead in the final quarter." "Why just kneel with 55 seconds left?" "Where was Corey Grant in the second half?" "Why didn't Marrone go for it on 4th and 1?" There were surely missed opportunities.
But to see that stat sheet.
New England: Zero penalties on offense or defense. A disparity of 88 yards in penalties (which happens in less than 1 percent of all NFL games).
In the heat of things, I thought I saw some plays that could have been flagged. I needed to watch this game again.
If this is a top-graded officiating crew, how is this not a hit job when the 4th quarter looks like the Zapruder film?
The Officials: Patriots fans are an arrogant and spoiled bunch (but still preferable to the human garbage Bills Mafia-traveling Juggalo convention). To argue the game was called unfairly is dismissed as sour grapes. But any Pats fan willing to remove their homer hat can see the truth.
The Jags weren't perfect, but they were executing their game plan to keep Brady on the sidelines. Ahead in passing yards. Way ahead in rushes and rushing yards. Owning time of possession, especially in the first half. No turnovers. Containing Gronkowski. Not giving up huge plays.
Had the officiating been average, the Jaguars would be on the way to Minnesota. It wasn't.
The Obvious: The pass interference call against Bouye with 1:23 left in the first half was not only awful, it was criminal.
Cooks lines up inside the numbers and sprints downfield, drifting toward the sideline. Bouye is in ideal coverage throughout the play. Brady has nowhere to throw. Cooks steps out of bounds around the 10-yard line. Brady's pass lands around the one.
This was the turning point and the only bad flag officials threw all day.
This is an NBA foul. All Tom does is throw it and wait for the refs. Hand-checking from both players doesn't warrant a flag on this uncatchable pass. Should have been second and 10 from the Jacksonville 45-yard line with plenty of time for "GOAT" to drive downfield to prevent going into halftime down two scores.
With 13:53 to go in the game, Myles Jack strips Dion Lewis of the ball. The ruling on the field is a fumble and Jack is 5 yards downfield running to score what should have been this defense's ninth TD of the season. Whistled. Letting the play run would have created an insurmountable three-score lead for Jacksonville. If all turnovers and scoring plays are reviewed for confirmation, why blow this play dead?
I have yet to find the Patriots fan who believes either of these plays were called improperly.
I felt the other five penalties called against Jacksonville were correct in each case. I also saw three instances where I thought Jacksonville could have been flagged for holding, but was not.
The Non-Calls: Belichick attributes his team's recent decrease in penalties to technique. Not sure if he is talking about hypnotism or handjobs, because there were several plays that could have drawn a flag. Officials never identified them. I will:
Cameron Fleming. Nate Solder. Shaq Mason. Eric Rowe. Patrick Chung.
- 6:54 - Second Quarter - second and 10 - Holding. Gronk's only catch of the day.
- 6:06 - Second Quarter - third and 10 - Holding. Even with it, Fowler gets the sack.
- 5:26 - Third Quarter- third and four - Tripping. Penalties this obvious deserve a flag.
- This is where shit gets really dicey. -
- 15:00 - Fourth Quarter - third and eight - Defensive Holding. Blatant. Had a flag been thrown here, the Jaguars may have come away with a TD instead of the FG they made on the following play.
- 13:00 - Fourth Quarter - third and seven - Defensive Holding. Another non-call kills a Jaguars drive and gets Brady back on the field.
- 10:49 - Fourth Quarter - third and 18 - Holding. Pretty confident Brady wouldn't convert the 3rd and 28 he should have faced.
- 10:18 - Fourth Quarter - first and 10 - Holding.
- 8:53 - Fourth Quarter - first and Goal - Illegal Contact. The Jags' two-tone helmets really highlight the obvious punch Ngakoue takes to the face. ... on a reviewed TD.
- 7:59 - Fourth Quarter - second and nine - Defensive Holding. Can't jerk a receiver forward without holding.
- 6:34 - Fourth Quarter - third and nine - Defensive Holding. If you clearly see the jersey being tugged, it's a penalty.
- 4:20 - Fourth Quarter - first and 10 - Holding.
This is without the Amendola headbutt or the Jags receiver facemasked while trying to make a catch. Hindsight is 20/20, but on this day, officials were legally blind. At least where it concerned one team. If I were mistaken about 90 percent of these plays, it would still warrant a flag being thrown. Khan should request a formal league review.
The Meal: Cooked up and served to all Jaguars fans.
You should be happy with the season you had. If I told you at the beginning of the season ... You got beaten by "the best."
Every fiber of my being tells me the Jaguars should be playing Sunday for a ring. It feels stolen. A strong, young roster doesn't guarantee anything for next year or beyond.
While I can credit the Patriots for making plays down the stretch, they shouldn't have been afforded those opportunities in the first place. Can't swallow it. Too much salt.
The Super Bowl: I haven't missed a Super Bowl in three decades. The way this game went down, I can't stomach one second of SB LII (pronounced "lie") or another round of "things they call against 31 teams."
Hoping the Eagles take the Lombardi Trophy, then shove it sideways up Brady's Ugg-wearing ass.
The Conclusion: No. Uh-uh. Every Jaguars player and fan has earned the right to feel cheated by this team and the league for how this game was officiated. Once schedules are released, Duval is circling one date.
This shit ain't over.