It didn't take long for the referees to make their presence felt in the Sunday Night Football clash between the LA Chargers and Baltimore Ravens.
With the Chargers in the red zone on the opening drive of the game, quarterback Justin Herbert scrambled to the sideline to pick up some yardage on second down. Herbert was then bulldozed by Ravens safety Geno Stone when he was clearly out of bounds.
The Chargers did what any sensible team would do and confronted Stone and the Ravens for the hit. A small scuffle broke out (nothing serious) and when the dust finally settled Chargers fans could not believe their ears: the Bolts would be getting penalized, not the Ravens.
Referees somehow penalize the Chargers for Justin Herbert getting bulldozed
The only flag on the play was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on guard Jamaree Salyer for what he did after the play. Remember: Salyer was only standing up for his quarterback, who just got absolutley killed on the sideline on a play that was very much over.
This was not the only mistake that the referee crew made. The grounds crew forgot to change the down marker on the field to third down and did not communicate that properly to the Chargers. The Chargers thought the next play was second and 19, but it wasn't. It was third and 19. Herbert threw an incompletion and the entire Chargers sideline was confused when they learned it was fourth down.
This should have prompted a first and goal for the Chargers, which very well could have led to a touchdown for the Bolts. Instead, the Chargers had to settle for a field goal, which could absolutely make a difference against a great team like the Ravens.
What makes this worse is that we already have a precedent for what should have happened in this play. Earlier this season, former Charger Jerry Tillery laid Herbert out on a very similar play down the sideline. Not only was that play penalized, but Tillery was ejected from the game! Somehow the Ravens got away with a nearly identical hit without getting penalized.
We live in an age where the quarterback is being protected more than ever before, which has caused countless questionable roughing-the-passer penalties throughout the league. Somehow, Justin Herbert can get obliterated out of bounds and his own team gets penalized for it.