Refs somehow miss obvious facemask penalty on Matthew Stafford sack

Being an NFL official is a much harder job than some realize, but it's hard to excuse some of their mistakes — especially on Monday night.

On a key third-down play in the fourth quarter of Monday's game between the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals, Cardinals defensive end Jordan Phillips brought down Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford to force a field goal.

Let's just say it wasn't the most clean tackle:

A missed facemask call bails the Cardinals out on 4th-and-goal, with the Rams having to settle for a field goal. pic.twitter.com/bkvOcXx3Np

— The Comeback (@thecomeback) December 14, 2021

Yeah, quarterback helmets typically don't spin that way without help. Replay showed Phillips' fingers catch the bars of Stafford's facemask, then grab him by the collar to get the much-needed sack.

It seems the only way the officials could have missed the penalty is if their view had been blocked by other players around the pocket, but that's not much consolation to the Rams. Head coach Sean McVay could be seen on replay yelling "That's a facemask," as could seemingly half the accounts of NFL Twitter:

Was that not a …. facemask?

— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) December 14, 2021

No facemask?!?!?!

— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) December 14, 2021

Facemask tho?

— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) December 14, 2021

I’m no snitch but that’s a face mask

— Mike Golic Jr (@mikegolicjr) December 14, 2021

That's a 50-yard penalty if it's Brady.

— Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) December 14, 2021

That’s the inconsistency that’s so upsetting. That’s the Refs job is to watch qb and he misses a blatant face mask. Should be 1st and goal Rams

— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) December 14, 2021

Jordan Phillips' 'facemask of Matthew Stafford was obvious. How did the officials miss that? It was the Excorist.

— Charean Williams (@NFLCharean) December 14, 2021

Stafford's helmet last play pic.twitter.com/5ysk8pLyHi

— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) December 14, 2021

“clean play” pic.twitter.com/Wag0WZj0Ix

— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) December 14, 2021

The sack and lack of flag on the play forced the Rams to kick a 33-yard field goal to take a 30-20 lead with 7:23 left. Fortunately, the potential four-point swing ended up not costing L.A. in its 30-23 win. The Rams' defense held the Cardinals to only three points on their final three drives, despite a converted onside kick.

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