And the winner for worst call of the NFL season is ... Mike Carey's indefensible roughing-the-passer penalty on the Bengals' Justin Smith that cost Cincinnati its game at Tampa Bay. With the Bengals leading 13-7 and time winding down, Smith sacked Bucs QB Bruce Gradkowski and forced a fumble that was recovered by Robert Geathers. Ball game. Now obviously this couldn't be roughing the passer because Gradkowski still had the ball. Or could it? Carey ruled that Smith had not been appropriately gentle with the quarterback, awarded Tampa Bay the standard gift set - 15 yards, automatic first down - and the Bucs scored late to win, 14-13. The call led Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis to lament, "I guess you have to cuddle him to the ground."That call wasn't just the worst of this season; it was the worst I've ever seen in my entire life. I had a sick feeling afterwards that it could cost the Bengals a lot more than one game, and it looks like I'll be right since Cincinnati will probably be missing the playoffs by just a game. The Bengals had one of the toughest schedules in football this year, making one loss far more important than it would have been any other season.
Indeed. Welcome to today's cuddly NFL.
Obviously I'm a homer, and I have no doubt that it clouds my vision at times, but I really don't think any fan with half a brain could say that the officiating in the NFL is up to par. Something really needs to be done, especially when it comes to roughing the passer calls, because the current state of things is absolutely ridiculous.
More: Rougher year for refs than passers - FoxSports.com