In the third quarter of Friday night’s preseason matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Diego Chargers, cornerback Tharold Simon made an incredible play.
San Diego quarterback Kellen Clemens looked for wide receiver Dontrelle Inman in the end zone, but Simon picked off the pass and ran it all the way back to the other goal line for a 103 yard touchdown. Then the NFL’s overzealous crusade against defense had to go and get involved. Back in Seattle’s end zone an ugly little gremlin of a yellow flag was thrown and the officials called back Simon’s play because he supposedly made illegal contact with Inman beyond the initial five yards from the line of scrimmage.
— Seattle Times Photo (@SeaTimesPhoto) August 16, 2014
He didn’t, and everyone knew it – particularly the crowd at CenturyLink Field who let the refs know it. After the game, Simon had this to say:
“To be honest, I think it was a very bad call,” Simon said after the game. “I know for a fact I didn’t initiate [contact]. He has one hand on me, but I know there are trying to emphasize that call, so it’s OK with me, for right now.”
Richard Sherman told Simon that he made a great play. Pete Carroll thought it was a “perfectly executed two-hand jam.” Basically everybody but the officials tasked with supervising the game knew that it was a legitimate pick six, but Simon was robbed anyway.
Now the NFL is admitting as much. According to Terry Blount of ESPN, Carroll submitted the play for review and the league knows they made a mistake:
Pete Carroll said the league office told him CB Tharold Simon shouldn't have been flagged on the INT and 103-yard TD return.
— Terry Blount (@TerryBlountNHRA) August 18, 2014
So that’s something, but if the pick came during a regular season game that wasn’t a blowout this might have come quite a controversy.
Thus far this preseason the NFL referees have gone overboard in their emphasis on cracking down on illegal contact and defensive holding – too many games have been brought to a stand-still by a rain of yellow flags. It has hurt the product on the field and Seahawks fans aren’t the only ones who have noticed. Coaches around the league have been upset by the over-regulation.
For his part, Pete Carroll sees the league correcting itself during the regular season. He told Gregg Bell of the News Tribune that something needs to be done:
“It doesn’t seem quite right. It seems like there are too many calls being made and too many incidental calls that seem to be affecting the game. So, we’ll see. … It’s obviously different. So, the question is: Is it better? I don’t know… Hopefully, we will have a good conversation about it.”
Hopefully that conversation begins with the league office admitting that they’ve royally screwed up.
We know that the refs are out of control – here’s three more takeaways from Friday night’s game.