For the first time this season, the Cleveland Browns lost and it wasn’t completely Pat Shurmur’s fault. For this one game, the referees completely cost the Browns the win. I honestly believe that the replacement officials we had earlier this season, could have called a better game. Call after call favored the Cowboys, and it was an absolute embarrassment for the National Football League.
We had easily one of the most respected officials in the league, on the field on Sunday. Ed Hochuli has been a referee in the NFL since 1990, has been in numerous playoff games, and has been a referee in two Super Bowls. On Sunday, however, it seemed that all he cared about was making sure the Dallas Cowboys came out on top.
Numerous illegal contact calls were called against Cleveland cornerback Buster Skrine. Look, I’ve never been a huge fan of Skrine, but these calls were absolutely ridiculous. Skrine was asked to make big plays on Sunday, replacing cornerback Joe Haden, who was sidelined with an oblique muscle injury. Skrine was covering Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant all game, which obviously was no easy task. However, these penalty calls against Skrine were ticky-tack calls, and anyone who is a fan of the NFL has to agree. Bryant was pushing off on Skrine all game, but the second Skrine pushed back on Bryant, he was whistled for the penalty.
While the Browns were whistled often for ridiculous penalties, it’s as if the refs forgot the Cowboys could also be penalized. With the Browns winning 13-10 on the closing drive of the fourth quarter, the Browns were whistled numerous times for penalties, helping the Cowboys move down the field. On third down, several Cowboys players jumped off sides, and the referees chose to ignore the play, and not throw a penalty flag. Had the referees called the game fairly, there’s a good chance the Cowboys never would have tied the game up in the closing seconds.
Of all the horrible calls by the referees, the worst one came in overtime. Dallas wide receiver Miles Austin caught a pass, and had it popped loose after taking nearly three steps. The Browns recovered the ball, but the play was whistled dead after officials called it an incomplete pass. The Browns called timeout, tried to review the call, but Hochuli said the play wasn’t reviewable, because it was whistled dead. While announcing his decision on camera, Hochuli was seen laughing. What kind of professional, with his years of experience, laughs in the middle of an NFL game? It was an absolute disgrace, and I honestly believe Hochuli should be fined by the NFL for his actions during the game.
How ironic is it that Hochuli is an attorney with Jones, Skelton and Hochuli, P.L.C.? We all know Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys, is one of the richest guys in the league. It seems that in this game, Jerry Jones paid Hochuli enough to call the game in the Dallas’ favor. It was an absolute joke, and that’s all there is to say about it.
The only thing that was just as bad as the officiating, was the announcing. The announcers were clearly for the Cowboys and hated the Browns. Look, I understand the Cowboys have always had a better reputation than the Browns, but the Cowboys definitely are not having a strong season. The fact that the announcers constantly bragged about how “talented” Dallas quarterback Tony Romo is, is an absolute joke. Romo is one of the most overrated players in the league, and his statistics on Sunday proved that. He 35-of-50 passes for one touchdown, and was sacked seven times. He was no better than Brandon Weeden, and the announcers had no reason to talk positively about the Cowboys or Romo.
We all know the Browns are a struggling franchise, but this was a game they should’ve won. The Browns have shot themselves in the foot plenty of times this season, and lost games they should’ve won. However, this a game they lost, due to the calls by the officials. The NFL needs to look at this game again, because if games continue to be called like this, the officials will be even more embarrassing than NBA referees.