The NFL, its Referees and Rulebook Had a Really Rough Sunday
2017 has not been kind to the NFL or its referees on pretty much a weekly basis. This past Sunday (Dec.17th) could very well have been for both the league and for the refs...."The Worst Week Ever"....
The reason: No less than three different strange but true calls changed...or at the very least impacted a couple of very high profile games and could have changed the outcome.
Both of those games left fans of the teams on the wrong side of the decision really, really angry and the teams who benefitted happy--but occasionally confused. I should also add--one completely changed the outcome of the game, the others could have...but there were opportunities to overcome them.
The first strange example I'll bring up--The Magical Index Card (see photo above). Said Card was used late in the Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders game Sunday night to help determine the spotting of a 1st down.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott tried a sneak with just under 5 minutes left in the game on a 4th and 1 play. He barely moved the pile.
That's when it got weird...NFL Referee Gene Sterratore broke out the card and claimed he used it to verify the oh, so very close mark of the ball allowing the Cowboys to get a first down late in the 4th quarter of the game.
Late in the game with just over 30 seconds left and the game tied, the Raiders had marched downfield and were in a position to still win the game. QB Derrick Carr was flushed out of the pocket by the Cowboys pass rush and suddenly found himself in a race to the corner pylon.
Carr dove and vainly reached out--trying to get the ball over the pylon and dropped upon hitting the ground. The ball rolls out of the end zone and welp, was ruled a touchback (correctly). The Raiders lost the ball and the game and Dallas got possession and ran out the clock.
Watch what happened here:
Again, late in the 4th quarter---trailing 27-24, Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers down the field and put them in a position to possibly win the game.
With the ball on the 10-yard line, Roethlisberger found a wide open TE Jesse James on the 2-yard line. The throw was low---but James made the catch sliding towards the ground. His knees hit the turf and he appeared to have the ball.
But has James lunges towards the nearby goal line--the ball bounces out of his hands and by the technical definition of a catch these days in the NFL, the pass was ruled incomplete.
The NFL tries to explain the ruling....(watch with sound up here)....though the explanation is um, a bit convoluted....
Lost in the shuffle/explanation here was this: Why, why on God's Green Earth did Steelers coach Mike Tomlin not decide to kick a game tying field goal at that point?? No, it would not have guaranteed a Steelers win, but it damn sure would have given them a chance.