For what it’s worth — which isn’t a lot — the NFL conceded its officiating was at fault amid the Denver Broncos‘ gutwrenching 16-14 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 2.
According to Broncos general manager John Elway, the league reviewed Bradley Chubb’s controversial fourth-quarter hit on Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky and admitted they were “dead wrong” in charging Chubb with roughing the passer.
“So, that didn’t help,” Elway quipped Thursday at a local business conference, per the Denver Post.
The infraction occurred with 31 seconds left, at Chicago’s own 25-yard line, with Denver ahead 14-13 following a stunning late-game comeback. Trubisky completed a short pass but was clobbered by Chubb while releasing the ball, drawing a personal foul.
Suffice it to say, replay didn’t reveal much …
The controversy didn’t end there. With just nine seconds remaining, on fourth-and-15, Trubisky hit wide receiver Allen Robinson for a 25-yard gain, down to Denver’s 36. The game clock appeared to have expired as Robinson was tackled, but the zebras granted the Bears a timeout at quite literally the last second — enough for kicker Eddy Pineiro to drill a 53-yard field goal and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
In its aftermath, the Broncos were equal parts shocked and livid over what had ensued, a dereliction of duty on the referees’ part, as far as head coach Vic Fangio was concerned.
“In regard to officiating, I’m just going to quote [New Orleans Saints Head Coach] Sean Payton], who is a much more senior head coach than I am, ‘We can’t control poor officiating or awful calls.’ And we’ll just go about it that way. We still have to find a way to win the game regardless of what’s happening,” Fangio said Monday.
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Elway Echoes Fangio
Blame the officials all they want; the Broncos still committed numerous drive-altering penalties and a killer red zone interception, and generally played uninspired football for three-and-a-half quarters. That isn’t a recipe for success, particularly against an extremely formidable opponent like Chicago.
Elway’s point was a lot similar to Fangio’s: The team cannot put itself in a position where it’s reliant on the refs, where one flag — egregious as it was — determines the final result of a 60-minute contest.
“We have to be able to overcome bad plays, bad refereeing and mistakes on our part. Great teams are able to overcome these things,” he said, per The Post. “I think Vic’s got us going in that direction and I think Joe Flacco has been a good pillar for us. He has experience. He’s won a world championship. He knows what it takes.”
… And Destroy Garett Bolles
Of Denver’s 10 flags, a staggering four were assessed to embattled left tackle Garett Bolles, who once again lived up to his unflattering, fan-inspired “Garett Holds” alias by repeatedly drawing yellow hankies.
Bolles, averaging one penalty per game across his three-year Broncos tenure and oblivious to his reputation, was taken to the woodshed by a dismayed Elway, who selected the struggling blocker with the No. 20 overall pick in the 2017 draft.
“Well, it’s got to stop. Period,” Elway said during his weekly radio appearance on KOA, per ESPN. “There are no more excuses for it. He’s had 26 holding penalties in the last two years and two games, so it’s got to stop. The bottom line is if he thinks he’s getting singled out, he is. He’s got to understand that. He’s got to understand what he’s doing. And that was my question [Sunday], ‘Does he know what holding is?’ Does he know what he can and can’t do?’
“If he thinks he’s getting targeted, he’s got to realize he isn’t. We’ll keep working for it and he’s still a talented guy. He cannot do that because it’s beating us.”
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