The San Diego Chargers had a rough second half in their season opening loss to the Houston Texans at Qualcomm Stadium on Monday Night. Despite the team having numerous mental breakdowns on both sides of the ball, they still should have won this game. However, it was clear all night that they had another opponent on the field.
It seemed that the referees in the game had their electron microscopes out, and firmly trained upon the San Diego Chargers. Meanwhile, numerous Houston penalties went unnoticed, and unaddressed. The referees did award penalties to the Chargers, but had a questionable performance, that sandbagged the Chargers at (what seemed like) the worst moments.
The Chargers consistently fought an uphill battle with the refs, and were left to contest almost every flag that was thrown their way. The calls were “Tic-Tac”, to put it kindly. On the other cheek, facemask, pass interference, and holding calls by the Houston Texans went completely unobserved by the refs. At one point, the Texans almost got away with a touchdown, where Texans receiver Andre Johnson was clearly down by contact. The call was reversed, but this was a prime example of how hard the Chargers struggled to keep the officials from giving away undeserved points to the opposing team.
San Diego managed to fight through it, and still dominate the Favorited Texans in the first half. However, as the game went on, and the team stumbled, poor officiating put the final nail in the coffin.
The call that stood out the most as being a complete head-scratcher was a personal foul penalty called on Chargers defensive tackle Cam Thomas, on a field goal attempt by the Texans. Thomas was flagged for grazing the head of the Houston Texans center, while going in for the block. The team was subsequently penalized fifteen yards, giving the Texans a first down, instead of giving the ball back to San Diego.
Vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, stated on NFL Network’s “Around the League” earlier today that the penalty should not have been called. Here is what he had to say when asked if this was the correct call:
No, this was not a correct call. This is not the intent of the rule, as it was written. The rule is to protect the snapper on a field goal, or an extra point from a direct force-able blow to the head, or neck area. Or, with the crown forehead hairline parts of the helmet to the body. It was NOT designed to prohibit ANY contact with the snapper, which is what happened on this play”.
Blandino then went on to break down the play, and state that the contact was “incidental”, and “not a foul”. He then broke down a play where an Arizona Cardinal player completely bulldozed a Green Bay Packer long snapper, to illustrate what the rule was intended for.
Following the mis-call, the Texans were awarded the ball back deep in Charger territory, and gave them a new set of downs. The already gassed, and frustrated Chargers couldn’t force another stop, as they previously fought so hard to do. The result was a Houston Texans touchdown. The Chargers later lost the game by a field goal, and will proceed to their next game, in Philadelphia, with an 0-1 record.
The call was reminiscent of the 2008 Ed Hochuli “whistle heard around the world” call, where Hochuli inexplicably whistled a fumble dead, and handed the Denver Broncos the game. That season came down to a final week showdown with the Denver Broncos for the division title, which San Diego ultimately won. These types of calls against the Chargers, at key moments in games, seem to be becoming a disturbing trend. Let’s hope that our playoff chances don’t come down to this game, as it did back in 2008.
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