NFL designates controversial referee for crucial Week 18 game

Chicago Bears v New England Patriots
Chicago Bears v New England Patriots / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Brad Allen. Does the name ring a bell? Well, considering what went down on Sunday just a few days ago in a game between the Lions and the Cowboys, it surely should.

Allen, the head referee involved in the controversial Week 17 game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions, has been assigned to officiate the upcoming Week 18 game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.

No need to mention, that the decision made by the NFL to put Allen in the spotlight and under the bright lights of a flexed Saturday game, airing on ESPN, on primetime is... well, rather interesting, to say the least.

A few days ago, as the head ref in the Lions-Cowboys game, Allen and his crew were at the center of a major controversy regarding the legality of a two-point conversion attempt by the Lions that ended in an end zone grab that would have won Detroit the game. Didn't happen, or better said, Allen didn't let it happen and count, so the Cowboys ended up stealing a victory.

The play in question is the one above, which is now vanished from the NFL history books forever. It happened with 23 seconds remaining, and it gave Detroit the lead on a grab by offensive lineman Taylor Decker. Of course, the refs said he had not reported as an eligible receiver, resulting in a call of illegal touching of the ball.

Decker, obviously, told media members after the game that he had, indeed, reported to the refs that he was going to take the upcoming snap as an elegible receiver. Allen, for his part, said that he didn't heard none of that, saying that the OL reporting as eligible was Dan Skipper, not Decker, according to ESPN.

Adding wood to the fire, the NFL seems to have made this decision on a backtrack move as Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that the league was considering downgrading Brad Allen for playoff assignments.

So, what is this? Is the league simply giving Allen a last chance to rebuild his image in the public eye of the fan? Are they giving him a final chance at a paycheck before ruling him out of the postseason? Sheesh...

Whoever ends up getting the nod here (and it's going to be really hard for the NFL to backtrack-the-backtrack and remove Allen's name from Saturday's matchup) the Steelers will be the ones mad at the decision as their season is on the line while the Ravens will be playing for nothing.

Pittsburgh needs a win (in nearly all realistic scenarios) to keep their playoff hopes alive. and clinch a postseason berth in the final game of the season. Not only do they need to win, but they will also need losses by either the Buffalo Bills (to the Miami Dolphins) or the Jacksonville Jaguars (to the Tennessee Titans) to make it all the way there.

11 Ravens listed DNP or limited on Tuesday's injury report. 11 Ravens listed DNP or limited on Tuesday's injury report. dark. Next

The Ravens have been officiated by Allen six times, according to Pro-Football database. They have not been assigned Allen since Dec. 19, 2021, and they have a 4-2 record in all of those six matchups combined.

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