NFL Referee Conspiracies: These Terrible Calls Have Fans Crying Fix

Darren - October 26, 2023

NFL Referee Conspiracies: These Terrible Calls Have Fans Crying Fix

Darren - October 26, 2023


Colts vs. Browns (2023)

Here’s one of the dumbest pass interference calls ever. Officials decided that Amari Cooper had bionic arms and would have caught P.J. Walker’s overshot pass. Maybe they thought that he was Mr. Fantastic or Stretch Armstrong because that’s the only way he was catching that ball.

Athlon Sports

But they still punished the Colts and gave the Browns the ball on the one-yard line. This was a close game and moments like these can be life or death for teams. Imagine if this was the call that decided who won their division and made it to the playoffs (via Fox 56).

L.A. Times

49ers vs. Eagles (2022)

Sometimes nothing goes right for a team when the stakes are high. The Niners didn’t reach their full potential against the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. Brock Purdy’s compromised elbow involving a torn UCL didn’t help but the cherry on top came when the officials turned against them.

San Francisco Chronicle

They slapped the Niners with 11 penalties and only hit the Eagles with four. Most of these were petty calls while there was one egregious moment that killed the game. A roughing-the-kick call enraged everybody except Philly fans. But nobody wants to hand them a bone (via Fansided).

Akron Beacon-Journal

Titans vs. Browns (2023)

Football fans called for the officials to get their eyes checked after one of the most confusing NFL referee calls ever. Deshaun Watson found Amari Cooper with a 25-yard-pass that set the receiver free down the sideline towards an obvious touchdown. Bizarrely, the sideline referee signaled that he was out of bounds (via Akron Beacon Journal).

CBS Sports

Anyone with functional eyes could see that Cooper stayed on the field. However, the official inadvertently blew his whistle and they couldn’t review the play. Maybe it was a human error but there are too many of these in the NFL nowadays. It certainly didn’t make it any sweeter for the Browns to swallow either.

Fox News

Jets vs. Patriots (2023)

Here’s another moment of shocking refereeing from New England’s regular season game against the Jets. The Patriots attempted a quarterback sneak but the Jets defence suffocated Mac Jones. That’s fine but suddenly he wriggled free before C.J. Mosley took him out.

Then Sauce Gardner crudely shoved Jones to the ground and the officials blew their whistles. But they didn’t punish the Jets and flag Gardner for his needless aggression. But they failed to show consistency because they called Myles Bryant for pass interference later in the game (via NESN).

Bleacher Report

Giants vs. Commanders (2022)

This was one of the most important games of the regular season because it had Wildcard consequences. Washington had an eight-point deficit before Brian Robinson scored a touchdown on their last drive. However, the referee had other ideas and called it back due to an ‘illegal formation.’


Footage showed Terry McLaurin asking if his position was acceptable before the referee gave him a thumbs-up. Then he wiped the touchdown off the board in an inexcusable move. This is the type of absurd behavior that turns fans and players against officials out of sheer anger (via Deadspin).


Chiefs vs. Jets (2023)

This game saw two of the worst NFL refereeing calls of the season because they were so egregious. Some fans even complained that the NFL rigged this game because Taylor Swift was in the crowd supporting Travis Kelce. First, the referee didn’t call a Chiefs holding on the Jets’ Jermaine Johnson.

CBS Sports

The no-call gave Pat Mahomes the chance to scramble for 25 yards. Later, Jets corner Michael Carter II had a brilliant interception. But the officials wiped it out. Finally, they gave New York defensive back Sauce Gardner a controversial flag for holding in a key moment at the end of the game. The Chiefs gained two key first downs from these moments and won the game (via Fansided).


49ers vs. Browns (2023)

John Hussey had a nightmare in this game as his team made several high-profile errors. This one saw them call a face mask on the Browns but the 49ers’ Christian McCaffrey was the offender. He grabbed Zadarius Smith’s helmet but the referee missed it in a weird moment.

York Dispatch

Eventually, they overturned the decision but it took them a frustrating three minutes to reach this conclusion. That’s right, an entire team of officials ruminated over this for a long time before finally making the right decision. It was so dumb but they got there in the end (via USA Today Sports).


Vikings vs. Colts (2022)

Minnesota produced the most remarkable comeback in NFL history but the officials almost ruined this game. Chandon Sullivan saw the zebras rule out two of his touchdowns in shocking circumstances. The officials mangled their decisions and twisted logic as they ruled against the Vikings.


Sullivan threw his helmet on the floor in disgust and the referees had no problem citing him for that. It felt like the Vikings were playing two games at once as they battled with Indy and the officials. This made their victory even more incredible because it came against the odds (via Fox Sports).

The Tennessean

Titans vs. Saints (2023)

The officiating crew got out of jail with this one because of Ryan Tannehill’s shocking display. The quarterback took the heat away from them but the zebras still committed one of the worst errors we’ve ever seen. Tannehill went 16 for 34 with three interceptions in a nightmare performance (via A to Z Sports).

The Tennessean

But the officials also changed the game with a touchdown-killing call. Kevin Byard thought he scored before they overruled it and awarded an incomplete pass. Mike Vrabel raged after the game: “Next week, that’s going to be a fumble and then the next week, it’s going to be an incomplete pass, and the next week it’s going to be a fumble.”

Sporting News

Browns vs. Steelers (2022)

Cleveland met Pittsburgh in this January clash that saw Deshaun Watson in the middle of some bad decisions. There were two bad NFL referee calls that showed their inconsistencies. First, Cameron Hayward grabbed Watson’s facemask but the officials didn’t flag him.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It’s Watson so few fans, players, and officials alike shed any tears over that. But they made up for their mistake later in the game when they ruled in Watson’s favor. This time they protected the quarterback with one of the softest calls ever after Hayward sacked him. It was pathetic but that’s NFL officiating right now (via Fansided).

Kirby Lee

Dolphins vs. Eagles (2023)

Some fans couldn’t believe their eyes when they watched this game. They complained that the NFL was soft and that they were watching flag football. One of the worst NFL referee calls of the season happened after Jalen Hurts threw the ball. Christian Wilkins hit him but it wasn’t excessive.

CBS Sports

But the officials disagreed and cited him for roughing the passer. Then Hurts set up an Eagles touchdown in a very decisive moment. This is a classic example of referees being inconsistent and too quick to involve themselves in the game. It’s very frustrating for fans, players, and coaches (via BVM Sports).


Eagles vs. Jets (2023)

It’s fair to call the Jets one of the unluckiest franchises in football. Sometimes it feels as if the entire NFL is conspiring against them. Fans cried foul after Jalen Hurts’ controversial touchdown run in this game. We already saw some bad calls in this game but this was decisive (via Bleacher Report).

Sports Illustrated

He ran for three yards before officials judged that he fumbled at the touchdown line. But then they incredibly reversed it and awarded the Eagles the touchdown. However, the play clock ran out so it should have been a delay of game penalty and a Jets ball. There’s no excuse for this terrible officiating.

Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs vs. Bengals (2022)

Cincinnati fans cried foul in the 2022 AFC Championship Game. They felt like the decisions only went one way in this crucial clash. Many of them accused the NFL of fixing this game so that Patrick Mahomes could win a second Super Bowl ring. The key moment was a roughing-the-passer call that moved the Chiefs closer to the game-winning field goal.


There was an extremely controversial moment when the referees gave the Chiefs another chance to convert a third-down attempt. This came after they already failed to do so and ruffled many feathers. Meanwhile, there was also a weird intentional grounding penalty on Joe Burrow (via Sportskeeda).

The New Yorker

Super Bowl LVII

The problem with modern refereeing is that there are no excuses. Fans expect perfection because of all the available technology and they don’t believe there’s any justification for mistakes. The officials did a reasonable job in Super Bowl LVII but one soft call killed the game and handed it to Kansas City.


Philadelphia’s James Bradberry received a flag after he allegedly held onto Chiefs receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. However, replays suggested that he didn’t hold Smith-Schuster, at least not enough for a Super Bowl-deciding call. It all depends on whom you were rooting for. Many thought it was holding while many others thought it was a horrible call. But it was too late for the Eagles because it gave the Chief a new set of downs. Then they scored the game-winning field goal (via Sportskeeda).