DENVER — Denver Broncos safety T.J. Ward, one of the most-flagged and heavily fined players in the NFL this season, recently ripped the officials, suggesting the way to fix the league’s spotty officiating is to give the men in stripes full-time jobs.

“I mean, how would you feel if you came to watch a game on Sunday and you had part-time players?” Ward asked.

The ever-thickening rule book and the more-focused microscope have officiating crews tied in knots, with each week bringing a slew of debatable calls, many of them determining the outcome of games.

“I’m playing a game, and I’ve got a guy who spends half his time on carpentry. … He barely knows the rules,” complained Ward.

That carpenter may very well be as good at his craft during the week as Ward is at his on the weekend.

“Well, then stick to that,” Ward said. “Don’t come over here throwing those flags.”

Week 12 brought another long list of penalties that had fans, players and coaches confused and complaining. It began with the offensive pass interference whistle in Green Bay that helped spoil Brett Favre’s homecoming, and ended with two similar flags on Rob Gronkowski that had Tom Brady fuming as the Patriots limped out of Denver even more banged-up and no longer unbeaten.

The flag on Packers receiver James Jones was costly in Green Bay’s 17-13 loss to Chicago and led Coach Mike McCarthy to suggest the league was maybe doing too good of a job with its focus on flags.

Officials said Jones picked the defender covering Randall Cobb, a whistle McCarthy termed “just a flat poor call.”

“He missed the call. You can shake that any way you want,” McCarthy said. “They’re looking for it.”

McCarthy said he thinks NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino “does an excellent job with the continuing education. The videos they put out are very informative. I think the instruction of them is excellent, better than prior seasons, something that I know we continue to use as teaching tapes just because the quality is so much better.

“But in the same breath, officials are human, too. I think when you emphasize things, you may look for them a little more.”

Cobb’s 4-yard catch to the 1 was nullified and the flag moved the Packers back to the 15. They settled for a field goal and ended up losing by four.

Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey said the NFL called how referee Jeff Triplette’s crew handled a late fourth down a “poorly officiated play.”

Mularkey said officials missed both a false start by Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree and offensive pass interference in the end zone by receiver Andre Holmes on the two Titans defenders breaking up the pass. Instead, Titans cornerback B.W. Webb was flagged for holding on the other side of the field, and Oakland scored the winning touchdown two plays later.

“So I vented my frustration about that, and they said if you guys have any questions on that, call them, because they said it was a poorly officiated play,” Mularkey said.

“It should never have even started, the play never should’ve started.”

Titans cornerback Perrish Cox immediately started pointing when Crabtree bobbed his head, usually a dead ball foul that would have pushed Oakland back to fourth-and-13 at the Tennessee 41.

Mularkey, 1-3 as interim coach, said he asked league officials what he could tell the media minutes later, and was told to refer questions to the league. But the NFL declined to comment to The Associated Press, saying by email the league does not comment on conversations between the officiating department and teams.

This is Mularkey’s third stint as a head coach, and he said he had not heard such strong wording before when talking to the NFL about officiating.

There were 20 flags thrown in the Cardinals-49ers game.

“The officials were struggling mightily. They can’t count to three. I got so many explanations that I got tired of them. Because they kept running out of them,” said Cardinals Coach Bruce Arians.

And his team won!

Arizona’s first series of the second half told the story. San Francisco committed five penalties, including four pass interferences and an illegal hands to the face, as the Cardinals finally reached the end zone on their way to a 19-13 win.

The 49ers were flagged 13 times in all for 81 yards, including a costly roughing-the-passer flag on Quinton Dial during the winning drive.

“There’s no debate here,” Carson Palmer said. “He hit me right in the face with the crown of his helmet.”

Dial thought he was making a legal play as it unfolded.

San Francisco Coach Jim Tomsula said Monday that Dial was trying to hit Palmer in the safety zone – the “strike zone” as the 49ers call it.

“I am not here to critique officiating,” Tomsula said.

One of his players went off, though.

“I’m not really too worried about getting fined, I thought those refs (stunk),” left guard Alex Boone said in the locker room Sunday.