That was DPI. You can’t blatantly grab a guy’s shoulder pads and/or arms as the ball is in the air and he’s trying to high point and adjust.
Mutual hand-fighting. Fine. That was not mutual hand-fighting. That was a clear grab to prevent a high-point adjustment to catch the football by a CB who was out of position. Shit refereeing changes the scope of the game.
And THAT is why so many hate the Patriots. It’s not that they win. People can appreciate that. It is how they get every GD call by the officials to go their way. And the NFL doesn’t even hide it anymore. This is such bullshit that, IMO at least, is akin to a third world dictator getting fictitious awards because he is looked at as god.
I agree that there is an element of that to their legacy (and hence, animosity because of it).
However, I don’t believe there is evidence of actual systemic bias (as in, there is a directive on high or an implicit decree). I think its just a simple human cognitive bias issue coupled with the fact that the Patriots have been aware of an uncannily taken advantage of rules loopholes/issues:
1) Like the Seahawks, they have taken advantage of the fact that, while the rules for route disruption post-5-yards (Illegal Contact) and Defensive Holding is clear, if they do_it_all_the_time, it will be perceived as commonplace by the officials and therefore won’t stand out (versus being over-physical downfield only on occasion).
2) The Raiders for so many years were the most penalized teams in the league. There is virtually ZERO chance that these teams actually legitimately committed more penalties than other teams…over_and_over_and_over.
Simply, officials go into games with cognitive biases; “these are the Raiders, the most penalized team in the league for n number of years…so if I call x, y, and z…that will look/seem normal…and so I’ll call it”. They don’t actually consciously think this…but their subconscious does this work of its own volition and it infects their mental processing when the bullets are live.
Conversely, with the Patriots, its “these are the Patriots, the most well-oiled machine in the league with the best coaching…so if I see x, y, and z and I’m not certain…I juts won’t call it…because Patriots and great coaching and dynasty.”