The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons NFC South contest prompted some fierce criticism. Yet, it wasn’t due to it being a slow-moving 10-10 first half. Instead, it was because of the officiating crew.
Analyst Describes Bucs-Falcons Officiating as ‘God Awful’
Both teams combined for 14 penalties before the second quarter even concluded. The Bucs had the most with eight for 56 yards.
However, fans were getting the notion that the refs were throwing markers on purpose, some believing that the refs were seeing the Tampa offensive linemen holding on every play. One fan even felt that things were so disjointed by the refs that a Bucs player would get flagged for breathing.
Some, though, believed that the refs were secretly on the Bucs’ payroll in making those questionable calls and slowing the game up.
“I’ve never seen a game like this falcons game. The refs have to have Bucs’ money line. Three defensive holding calls on 3rd downs only reason Bucs have points. This is brutal,” the fan posted on X.
There was even a moment during the game when Falcons wide receiver Drake London lost the football near the end zone, which got fans believing it was a touchback. However, London’s hand was ruled out of bounds at the time of the fumble, rewarding Atlanta with the ball at the half-yard line. That ruling prevented the Bucs from taking over at their own 20.
“Bucs getting hosed by refs per the usual,” one fan replied to NFC South reporter for Fox Sports Greg Auman.
The Athletic analyst Nate Tice didn’t hesitate to get blunt about the referees’ performance.
“This officiating crew in Tampa is God awful,” Tice posted on X.
And as of 3:22 p.m. ET, the number of penalties surpassed the 14 before halftime.
We are up to 16 penalties in the Falcons-Bucs game. Plenty of time to go, too.
— Judy Battista (@judybattista) October 22, 2023
Were There Penalties on Every First-Half Drive?
The flags began to fly during the first possession of the game.
It all began with defensive holding on A.J. Terrell of the Falcons. Tampa eventually turned the ball over on downs.
Atlanta was not called for penalties during its opening drive, which ended with Desmond Ridder scoring on a two-yard keeper to make it 7-0.
Terrell, again, was called for holding on the subsequent possession on defense. But that was also the drive that saw Tampa’s first penalty, which was a false start on the Bucs’ Matt Feiler.
Atlanta would get called for another defensive holding — this time by Jeff Okudah — on Tampa’s longest drive that went 15 plays, ate up 76 yards, and ended with a field goal.
But other notable calls made in the first half included a pass interference on Christian Izien of the Bucs, illegal use of the hands by Terrell, offensive holding on both sides, and Feiler called for a second false start.
Tampa and Atlanta immediately earned this title in Week 7: The NFL’s most penalized game of the week thus far.