NFL admits refs botched 'terrible' penalty against Saints: report


The NFL has apparently acknowledged what just about everyone else saw on a bizarre penalty that went against the Saints in their Week 13 game against the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football.

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The league "privately" admitted to the Saints that the officials got it wrong on a seemingly inexplicable blindside block call on tight end Garrett Griffin in the third quarter, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported on "Good Morning Football" on Saturday.

On the play, Griffin shuffled laterally across the line of scrimmage to pick up a blitzing Dallas cornerback Jayron Kearse, meeting him with what looked to be a clean and unremarkable block.

To the surprise of many, though, the refs saw it differently, calling an illegal blindside block, which was implemented in recent years, in theory, to curb crushing crack-back blocks on unwitting defenders, usually on special teams.

The questionable call wiped out a Saints first down, instead marching them backwards and all but dooming their hobbled offense to punting the ball away from deep in their own territory.

The play turned heads on social media, where it was widely panned by journalists and fans alike, not to mention in the NFL Network broadcast booth, where Hall of Famer and analyst Troy Aikman dismissed the call as "terrible."

The head-scratching penalty was just the latest bad break for a Saints squad beset by injuries in its first year without the retired Drew Brees.

But as Pelissero noted, the frustration among Saints fans has been percolating for some time, and actually predates Brees' exit.

Saints opponents have been the least-penalized in the league in two of the past three seasons, according to Pelissero, and they had the third-fewest flags in the other year in that span.

Injuries and bad calls are undoubtedly part of the game, but it seems that the Saints and their fans have a legitimate gripe when they say they get more than their fair share of the latter.

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