The Bengals’ game against the Patriots this past Sunday was a scrappy matchup with multiple controversial moments. Granted, things didn’t get nearly as bad as the Bengals’ most recent playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But, numerous personal foul penalties were handed down - primarily due to altercations involving players like Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, and LeGarrette Blount. Vontaze Burfict has also been accused of infractions, but will not be suspended like many non-Bengals fans called for.
However, the first disciplinary action taken by the NFL in reaction to the game was on Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman for an illegal facemask grab that whipped Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick’s head around while he was trying to cover and make a tackle.
Patriots WR Julian Edelman was also notified of a $9,115 fine for a facemask from Sunday's victory over the Bengals.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) October 19, 2016
At the time, a penalty was called on Kirkpatrick for a facemask, setting the Patriots up directly in a goal-to-go situation. However, no penalty was called on Edelman.
“That's an interesting no call on the offense," one of the announcers said after the play, exemplifying the obvious nature of what had just happened.
With a penalty called on Edelman, the calls would have offset and the Patriots would have had to replay third down. They were already in field goal range at that point, so the best case scenario for the Bengals was probably the Patriots only going up by a score of 31-17, rather than 35-17. But, this is a perfect example of the referees directly impacting the outcome of the game with a bad call.
It’s a step in the right direction that the NFL took notice of Edelman’s actions and handed down a fine, however small and insignificant it might be for a player with Edelman’s salary (approximately $260,110 per week of the NFL season or $4,421,875 per year). The important thing to note here is that the NFL is at least trying to be unbiased with their disciplinary action. We know Vontaze Burfict won’t be suspended for his actions in the game, but we await information regarding if he will be fined, which is expected.
It also shows, at the very least, that the NFL is aware when the referees don’t do their job correctly. Don’t expect the NFL do anything about the referees making mistakes (it happens every week), but we can at least take solace in the fact that it’s not going unnoticed.