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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES 12/15

By Joe Nelson
Posted 12/15/2008 at 04:07 PM

What is going on in Pittsburgh Steelers games this season? Just a few weeks removed from the absurd and clearly incorrect replay mess that took away a Pittsburgh cover the review system generated another bizarre and outcome changing decision last week. Whether the Holmes catch was a touchdown or not is irrelevant, it was ruled short of the goal line and no rational person would have been able to discern that there was conclusive evidence to overturn the call. The language in the replay rules is pretty clear and there was absolutely nothing there to justify changing the call. It would be great if we had a replay system where the officials could generate the correct call no matter what, but the rules are in place and they were not followed in that situation.

If you are a Ravens fan, you have legitimate gripe when your team likely fails to make the playoffs. As a football fan you should also be upset as we were robbed of a season defining 4th and inches play for the division title should Coach Tomlin have elected to go for it. Instead we were dealt a very underwhelming and controversial finish to what could have been remembered as one of the great games of the season.

No one was watching but in the Rams/Seahawks game veteran receiver Torry Holt charges that an official made an interference call based on seeing a scoreboard replay and not what he saw on the field. Again, it would be nice if we had a system where getting the correct call was the most important thing but the rules have to be followed if they are in place. There’s no way to know how the official came to that decision and upon the replay the call certainly could be justified but it is a dangerous charge to make and Holt certainly could be fined.

The ‘Just get it right’ mentality is idealistic and might be in the best interest of the game but there would be no way implement such a system and not have drastic inconsistencies in use. The Holt play was not the only long pass interference play that had an impact last week. Arizona also had a long pass interference penalty on Minnesota wiped out after a flag was thrown and the official huddle resulted in the flag being picked up. On Thursday night a 38-yard pass interference call in overtime essentially won the game for the Bears, a shame to see an overtime game where the losing team would basically be knocked out of playoff contention on a judgment call that could be argued either way. The college system that caps those penalties at 15-yards makes much more sense as the 5-yard illegal contact penalties and the huge yardage interference calls are decided on a fine but blurry line in many instances as it just to tough to see what has really happened at full speed.

It is amazing how people’s perceptions of teams can change based on one or two games. A few weeks ago the Giants were clear Super Bowl favorites and then some off-field distractions and two tough division losses and many are jumping off the ship. Just last week most expected Dallas to be out of the playoffs, now with one impressive win the Cowboys are back to being considered the top team by many in the media.

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