The most tortured fan base in America has another reason to be upset. You see, Ed Hochuli has been assigned as the referee for the AFC Championship Game. Another clear indicator that the NFL doesn’t want its most profitable franchise to succeed. I mean, we can just go ahead and pencil Denver into the Super Bowl.
Clearly, it’s bias.
Let’s go through that Denver record. The Broncos were favored in all six games, several by large margins. The notorious game was the 2008 matchup against San Diego. In that one, Jay Cutler fumbled when trying to throw a pass, but Hochuli blew the whistle before any recovery.
Hochuli was devastated, apologized, and got downgraded that season for the play. Rules were changed, also. If that happens today, with a clear recovery, that play is reviewed and changed to a fumble. We’ve seen that happen numerous times in recent games.
Of the other five games, three involved really bad teams. The 2012 Chiefs and 2013 Texans both finished the year 2-14. They lost to everyone. Denver was the #1 seed both years and rolled them. They also beat a 5-11 Raiders team.
That leaves two close home wins over the Bengals, including this year’s Monday Night game that the Broncos won in overtime. You might recall there was a incomplete pass from A.J. McCarron in OT, where Von Miller appeared to hit the ball loose before the arm went forward, but it was not reversed. Obviously, Hochuli was just sandbagging despite his bias–to hide it when folks like me look back–and knew that McCarron would fumble a play later to end the game.
So, Denver’s record in Hochuli isn’t that remarkable considering the opponents. But what of New England? How can the best franchise of all-time have a losing record in games if there is no bias? This team simply doesn’t lose, except in games refereed by Ed Hochuli.
Again, opponents. For whatever reason, when Hochuli gets assigned to a Patriots game, it is usually a marquee matchup. Of the last nine games he has done involving New England, six of the opponents have advanced to the conference championship game or beyond (make that 7 of 10 with Denver). The only loss to a bad team was in week 17 this year at Miami. Are we really going to put on our tin foil hats and blame that effort on Hochuli?
Never mind. Don’t answer that.
The Hochuli games involving the Pats and good teams were last year at Green Bay (L), that primetime thriller against Harbaugh’s 49ers in 2012 (L), a win over Green Bay in 2010–who won the Super Bowl that year, and a loss at the Jets in 2010 (the Jets would also beat the Pats in the playoffs, somehow without Hochuli’s assistance).
As for penalties, the Pats have been called for 43, for 394 yards. The opponents called for 42 and 379 yards. That’s one penalty and fifteen yards. That’s like one offensive pass interference call.
Speaking of that, since it merited mentioning that Hochuli’s crew called offensive pass interference on Gronkowski, we did a review of that conspiracy theory. We included video. Gronk two-hand shoved off for that call, to get open. I would say that it is the most obvious and clear penalty of all those for which he was flagged. If that’s not offensive pass interference, we should just retire the call.
Part of me wants New England to win Sunday so that this nonsense can be put to rest.