There are questionable referee decisions and then there are egregiously awful referee decisions. In a critical primetime 2010 game between the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks that decided the NFC West title, the referees made a truly awful decision.
The Seattle Seahawks have had their fair share of controversial referee decisions over the years (see: The Fail Mary), but this error is arguably even less explicable. On a 2nd-and-1 play with 4:57 left in the fourth quarter, fullback Michael Robinson took a handoff from Matt Hasselbeck. He was tackled a half-yard short of the first down marker.
From the view of everyone on the field and those watching on television, it looked like a routine stop that would set up 3rd-and-1. Sure, Robinson had performed the usual gamesmanship and left the ball well in front of where he was stopped, but there's no way anyone watching the play could believe he'd actually gotten the first down.
Inexplicably, the referee gathered the ball and signaled first down. The Seahawks, knowing they'd gotten away with something, immediately ran a play before it could be reviewed. Commentator Al Michaels and the Rams bench erupted in anger, but there was nothing that could be done.
While it was clearly an awful spot, the butterfly effects of this play would be significant. Instead of a potential stop that could get the Rams the ball back with a chance to tie, the Seahawks were able to march down the field and put the game out of reach with a field goal.
Of course, this was the infamous 7-9 Seahawks team that would sneak into the playoffs and stun the New Orleans Saints thanks to Marshawn Lynch's legendary "Beast Mode" run. That game changed the entire complexion of the NFC playoffs and helped the Chicago Bears avoid a superior Saints team.
While the Seahawks likely would've won the game, the rather large change in win probability due to this awful spot ended up having more ramifications than anyone could've thought. The Rams had every right to be angry.
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Tristan Jung is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tristan Jung also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username tristan1117. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.