Saturday afternoon featured some very fun NFL playoff football, but the early game between the Titans and Chiefs was marred by some horrendous officiating. The primary culprit? Head official Jeff Triplette, who repeatedly bumbled calls on the mic after repeatedly blowing plays dead early and lacking control over the game in general.
In somewhat surprising news, it appears the playoff game was Triplette's last, as Aditi Kinkhabwala reported on Sunday morning that Triplette is expected to retire after the 2017 season.
Referee Jeff Triplette, who worked yesterday's #Titans-#Chiefs Wild Card game, has told folks around him he's retiring from @NFL officiating. And the heartfelt hugs he exchanged w/ his crew after dinner last night? Def looked like good-byes.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) January 7, 2018
There's a pretty good argument that Triplette's crew impacted the outcome of the game: on a sack of Marcus Mariota by Derrick Johnson, where the Titans quarterback was hit like a freight train and fumbled the football.
There was a clear recovery there by the Chiefs, but Triplette ruled Mariota's forward progress had been stopped. This is impossible because Mariota was not "moving forward" -- he was standing in the pocket and got smoked like a mid-90's Mike Tysonopponent. There was no progress because he wasn't going forward. Looking out for a quarterback's well being is a focus of the NFL, and has been for years now, but clearly this was a "sack --> fumble" situation.
There was also a sack of Mariota during a Titans' two-point conversion attempt where Mariota attempted to escape, eventually lost the football, and the Chiefs recovered. Kansas City was going to score on the play and it would have been worth two points.
Later in the game, Derrick Henry appeared to fumble and the Chiefs returned the football for a touchdown. Upon review, Henry was clearly down; somehow no one on the officiating crew blew a whistle in THAT scenario. Long story short, the officiating left a lot to be desired and lacked any consistency whatsoever.
Triplette's response to questions from a pool reporter after the game sounded a lot like someone who did not give one care in the world for any criticism. Asked if "you guys [saw Mariota] going forward" Triplette shrugged it off.
"The defender hit him and he was driving him back," Triplette responded.
Taken in the context of someone dropping the mic and walking away from his job, the responses makes a lot more sense.
Here's my question: did the NFL know Triplette was retiring before this game? And did Triplette get a playoff game BECAUSE he was retiring? Triplette had not been assigned a playoff game since the 2013 season, according to Pro-Football-Reference.
It seems extremely coincidental that Triplette would get a playoff game for his final assignment after failing to grade well enough over the last three seasons to earn one. If you're a Chiefs fan, you should be upset at the way Andy Reid handled playcalling down the stretch, but you should also be asking a lot of questions about the NFL's decision to give Triplette a playoff game.
Copyright CBS Sports 2017. Story written by Will Brinson.