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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Terrible Calls All Around

When D called me with 2:00 remaining in the 4th quarter of the Falcons game, we shared the same sentiment: worst officiating call since Kent Hrbek. For the ref/ump to rule that Jennings "muffed" the punt and award possession to the Eagles with just over 2:00 left at the 40 yard line was nothing short of a travesty. I immediately compared it to the "Hochuli" call from earlier this season and D agreed. In a situation like that where you are not certain what happened, you award the ball to the recieving team and let the kicking team challenge. Even the Eagles knew that Jennings didn't touch the ball (as you can tell from the gunner pulling up after he corralls the punt). Instead, the officials (who were at least 20 yards away from the play) determined that the ball somehow grazed Jennings and that the punt was "muffed". That was the determining factor of the game and it is amazing me that it is not getting more coverage right now. I've watched at least 6 wrap up shows and no one has actually shown the play itself. They are simply alluding to a "muffed punt by Atlanta" and moving on. Collusion from the NFL for not wanting MORE of their terrible officiating broadcast.

And what is the Falcons recourse? Likely the same as the Chargers. Be pissed off at the officials and get an "I'm sorry" from the NFL? It's pathetic. I've long wondered why the NFL doesn't adopt the collegiate method for review. There is already a review committee in the booth all game anyhow, why not put them to work and have them able to stop play and review things themselves. You still can have a challenge or two to work with at your discretion with the same loss of timeout. It's asinine to penalize a coach for good clock management by removing the ability to dispute an egregious call from backwoods retarded officials. Where is the harm? Hell, if it extends the game 15 minutes it means more revenue dollars from advertising. I'm failing to see the issue. Except that it could potentially point out the unending amateurism that is "professional" officiating.

If there was such a replay system in place here is what would have happened in the Falcons/Eagles game. Call would have been made correctly (overturned by replay) and Ryan would have had the ball at the Falcons 40 with over 2:00 to work with against a pass defense that had seen their best CB and S miss time throughout the game due to injury (Samuel and Dawkins both left the field at different times for injuries). Ryan would likely have worked the Falcons down and gotten in position to score the go ahead TD with minimal time remaining.

Instead: craptastic call and a disheartened defense (who had forced the Eagles off the field with a stellar effort before the punt) gives up an immediate Westbrook icing TD. It's miserable to watch a valiant effort by an inferior but great hearted team go in vain due to errors in judgement by impartial parties.

Then again, this all could have been avoided if Mularkey hadn't decided to throw the fade to Roddy instead of pounding the ball in with Turner from the 2. Any run call would have been better. Of all the things Roddy is good at, jump balls isn't one of them. He's quick, elusive, fast, and has pretty good hands. But he is neither tall nor a good leaper and I'm yet to see him develop the ability to body his way into position and fight for a ball in the air. At the goal line you pound the ball as the pass defense has to defend much less space and the options for a QB are terribly limited and predictable. From inside the 3 you are relegated to fades, slot slants (if the LBs are out of the middle), and slot outs (if you have the TE covered by a LB). The better options are to pound the rock with your big back or FB, spread the formation and run the QB, or try a "flip 90" (RB to the outside). I would have preferred to see the flip to Norwood or Turner running behind Ovie.

Good thing the UGA depantsing of LSU had my spirits high and I'm packing for Florida or I'd have too much time to stew on this crapfest.


Daniel said...

Don't forget Eric Gregg in the 1997 playoffs amongst your worst calls.
I don't know about collusion, but I was angry about the lack of conversation surrounding this horrible call. We'll see if Peter King and/or Gregg Easterbrook mention it.
I just think in a situation where you're not sure of the call, where you only think something happened, you have to make the passive call (no muff) as opposed to the active call (muffed punt).

MLT said...

Gregg wasn't a singular call, though. It was a travesty of epic proportions. I'm not even convinced it actually happened, it's like an acid trip that I actually remember.

And I agree. You make the passive call. Use replay to determine a turnover happened, not to determine that one didn't.