Ch. 1: One-sided Officiating Cost the Jaguars the AFC Championship

As I correctly predicted in the last article I wrote, the Jaguars vs. Patriots AFC Championship Game was much closer than most fans anticipated.  Many experts would agree that, in fact, Jacksonville was the better team on that day, but obviously didn’t bury the Patriots when they had their chances.  

To be perfectly transparent I have been dealing with a real depression since the AFC Championship Game due to the belief that the game was truly and actually fixed for the Patriots to beat the Jaguars.  I feel thoroughly betrayed by the NFL.  The amount of time, passion, and energy I have invested in sports throughout my life as a fan is enormous and hard to quantify- thousands of hours caring about and watching sports since the early 1990s. As a student, my love of sports carried over to academics- as I went to University for 5 years completing a ‘Sports Business’ Degree.  Following University I have spent 6 years creating my ‘Franchise Performance Algorithm’, and all other work/ efforts that have gone into making a reality.  

Sports fan don’t want to believe certain games are fixed- because that possible truth would undermine all we believe sports is meant to be about. The best team on a given day should win.  The rules should be the exact same for both teams.  The referees should be truly impartial and the game should be officiated on an even playing field. 

What I’m tempted to do is write an article explaining how and why this game was fixed.  However, I know most fans will tune that out because there is a culture of discrediting “conspiracy theories”, regardless of the facts and information one is presenting.  So instead of writing from the perspective that this game was fixed, I will backtrack a little bit, and say from an objective standpoint as a fan who watched every snap of this game at least 2 times, (and most of the key plays in slow motion), that a bad day by the referees directly lead to the Patriots beating the Jaguars.  If the officials had done a good job that day, Jacksonville would be in the SuperBowl. 


The Patriots Dynasty (2001-present)

I want to preface the core of this article by stating my feelings about the Patriots Dynasty. I do not want to be accused of being a Patriots hater- because I am not that, and up until now, I have been a huge fan of New England.  

I started liking the Patriots way back in 1996 with their surprise run to the SuperBowl.  I was a big fan of Drew Bledsoe and I was drawn in by their look- loved the 90’s uniforms, color-scheme, and helmets- I’ve always been a sucker for a team with a great uniform, so I was drawn to the 90’s Pats. 

The 2001 team that made the shocking run to the SuperBowl was a team I really liked as well. What an incredible underdog story with Tom Brady- the rookie backup, winning the SuperBowl in his first season. 

I was a fan of the Dynasty from the time it started in 2001, and loved that the Patriots won 3 out of 4 SuperBowls from 2001-2004, because I had never witnessed a Dynasty in the NFL before, and I appreciated the sustained greatness. 

Over the next few seasons (2005, 2006) I had ‘Patriots fatigue’ and was fairly indifferent towards them. However, I got back on the bandwagon and cheered hard for them to go undefeated in 2007, and was heartbroken when they lost that SuperBowl to the crazy David Tyree catch. Of the 30 people attending the SuperBowl party I was at, I was one of only 2-3 people cheering for the Patriots to beat the Giants and complete the undefeated season. 

Between 2008-2010 I would say I felt the same towards the Patriots as I did in 2005 and 2006- indifferent, a little bit of ‘Patriots fatigue’, and not cheering for or against New England. 

Once 2011 rolled around, and the Patriots found themselves in a rematch with the Giants in the SuperBowl, this is when I became a real Patriots fan.  I cheered hard for the Pats to right-the-wrong of the 2007 SuperBowl, and felt bad for New England when they lost again in crushing fashion to New York. 

Entering 2012, the Patriots had not won the SuperBowl since 2004, despite their sustained greatness and deserved at least one more Title in my opinion.  I developed a huge respect for the way the Patriots valued veteran players, college educated players, and in general, the way that they were a well-oiled machine that kept succeeding regardless of injuries and loss of players/ coaches to free agency. 

I was never a conspiracy theorist when it came to some of the criticism of the Patriots.  I didn’t put much stock into ‘Spygate’ or ‘Deflategate’.  I didn’t feel that Tom Brady should have been suspended for his role in deflating footballs.  I always defended the Patriots and was not a person who claimed that New England “always got all the calls”.  I wasn’t a fan that claimed “the Patriots are cheaters”. That’s not something I had noticed, and I had watched a lot of Patriots games. (Quoting Jim Rome- “Certainly the Pats are the Pats- they’re on TV more than Leave it to Beaver reruns.”)

I was cheering for the Patriots to beat the Seahawks in the SuperBowl of 2015, and cheering for them again to beat Atlanta last year. The comeback they had in that game was one of the most incredible things I had ever seen in sports, and I was elated that they pulled it off.  I was honestly thrilled.  I boasted for weeks about Brady and Belichick solidifying their place as the best of all-time. 


But the AFC Championship Game versus Jacksonville has changed everything for me in regards to the Patriots.  They were not the better team that day and the Jaguars had the game stolen from them by the officials. 

What was most shocking to me was that everyone anticipated the Patriots getting more calls than the Jags- and even in a situation where the NFL and referees knew that fans would be watching for favoritism, they still had the audacity to call this game one-sidedly.  Fans were expecting the Pats to receive special treatment and they did- 1 special teams penalty for 10 yards was the lone call against the Pats. 

In Part 2 of this essay I will give a detailed breakdown of the 10 or so calls and non-calls that changed the outcome of this game.  I will also touch on how the CBS broadcast was as much at fault as the referees, in terms of favoring the Patriots in the way they lead the viewer through the game.  Most plays in the NFL the viewer gets to see the replay, but there were some key plays in this game where strangely the replay was not shown- in my opinion to hide an obvious Patriots penalty that was not called. 

Continue to Chapter 2-