The Buccaneers were bad with penalties, but the referees were terrible
The NFL owes the Bucs an apology. There were a lot of other reasons why the Bucs lost last night, but penalties were at the forefront. If all of these penalties were genuine, this loss might have been easier to handle, but the refs calling the game entirely in New Orleans’ favor makes it really hard to take the results of that game seriously.
No terrible call in the game puts this on display better than William Gholston negating an interception in the red zone after a roughing the passer call. The NFL has been terrible with this call all season, treating the quarterback like a newborn with the slightest hit drawing a flag, but Gholston drawing this flag with his helmet on the ground should raise some concerns.
Why the refs didn’t ask, “why is Gholston’s helmet on the ground?” is beyond us.
“How did Gholston’s helmet hit the ground?” probably also has some merit.
Perhaps the refs thought Gholston wanted better vision to see the quarterback in a pass-rushing situation, so he took it off. Regardless, a terrible missed hands to the face call by the refs gave the Saints three free points.
When you add in plenty of holding calls (Vita Vea should draw ten a game), the Saints were the beneficiaries of one of the worst-officiated games of the season.
The Bucs were also terrible with real penalties. Taunting, false starts, pass interferences, and the normal complement of penalties still plagued the Buccaneers last night, and those plays generally were called correctly.
Tampa has to get a hold of their discipline on both sides of the ball during the bye, but the refs also have to analyze that game and make positive changes going forward.