RIP Football

This video of Jaelan Phillips getting flagged for the worst roughing-the-passer call in NFL history might give you an aneurysm

December 12, 2022

On Sunday, the Los Angeles Chargers thoroughly outclassed the Miami Dolphins on national television. Justin Herbert slung it 51 times for 367 yards as Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense performed like a can of expired tuna fish. Make no mistake, the Chargers deserved to win by more than the final six-point margin, but they were also aided by Scott Novak’s officiating crew, who missed false start after false start on the Chargers offensive line as they struggled to contain the Dolphins’ pass rush all night. But it wasn’t just the innocuous five yarders they missed. Early in the third quarter, Novak and co. delivered their signature moment, inexplicably flagging Dolphins' edge rusher Jaelan Phillips for roughing passer on a sack that would have forced the Chargers to punt from their own end zone. Viewer discretion is advised.

The game is well and truly gone. Not only was Phillips enjoying a breakout performance in his hometown in front of family friends, the flag for the foul came in so late and was so unexpected, that Justin Herbert was ALREADY ON THE SIDELINE. Did the better team still win? Yes, but it’s tough to argue that the call didn’t significantly alter the complexion of a crucial stretch of the third quarter. Everyone on the rational football planet seemed to agree.

The party line will be that Phillips drove his weight through Herbert and into the turf, but behind closed doors at NFL HQ there has to be some dialog taking place about how to officiate roughing the passer moving forward. This is far from the first phantom RTP this season—Grady Jarrett’s perfectly clean sack of Tom Brady back in October immediately springs to mind—but it is one of the most egregious. Where we go from here is anybody’s guess. Goalie-style padding for QBs? No sacks in the pocket? Flag football? Who knows, but one thing is certain:

We’ll still be watching and we’ll still be complaining.