are a number of things we need to mention before diving into the
NFL championship games that took place between New Orleans and
Los Angeles, and Kansas City and New England. Things that need
to be said, because the hype machines have been running all over
all take a step back before demanding quick and definitive solutions.
it’s absolutely possible that incidents can arise in sporting
events exposing problems that should be corrected as soon as they
can be addressed. This does not mean that each and every scenario
should be handled immediately.
too often the action-reaction process is forgotten in the desire
to see action-satisfaction. And then, over time, it is recognized
that the pendulum was swung far too heavily in the opposite direction.
yes, the call was horrendous. But again, relax.
Saints actually took the lead in the game following the incident.
The game went into overtime, and Drew Brees did in fact bring
the offense out to the field in the extra session. You might want
to argue the Saints didn’t win the football game because of the
missing call. There’s a foundation for building such a belief.
But the Saints did not lose the football game because of the missing
call. In fact…
all seen bumbled, fumbled, blooper moments in football games.
Called or not, there is no guarantee the Saints would have scored
a touchdown, or even made the field goal with things playing out
differently. An offsides penalty pushing the Saints back… plays
called not to score but to run the clock… a botched snap resulting
in a botched field goal attempt. Suddenly you don’t have a game
going to overtime at all, as the Rams final drive in regulation
becomes an attempt to win (not tie).
game continued after the penalty wasn’t called. The Rams scored
twice as it continued. The Saints turned the ball over. Meanwhile…
in Kansas City… with a tremendous young quarterback aching to
head out to the field in overtime, all the Patriots did to respond
to the fourth quarter fireworks set off by the Chiefs was march
down the field and stuff the ball into the end zone while denying
the Mahomes any opportunity. If the Saints stop the Rams after
their field goal… if they march for a touchdown… this moment is
not nearly the same magnitude of a story.
blown call didn’t help. It was one of the worst performances from
a crew of officials I’ve ever seen in an NFL game. The Saints
quite likely would have advanced if it was made. Still, there
is a very long list of teams that are not happy when comparing
the actual-end-results of a game to the quite-likely-results during
third… most importantly… the real crime here is how the NFL has
been completely silent on all items championship worthy. No publicly
released comments on Patrick Mahomes not touching the ball in
overtime. No publicly released comments on a pass interference
non-call. As a result, lingering stories and issues are hanging
around and making news as the Super Bowl approaches.
before we open the door, drink the potion, and fall down a rabbit
hole… let’s all take a deep breath and recognize a few things
about these situations. Quick actions sometimes create worse problems…
the no-call event did not end the game… and the NFL apparently
is hoping you’ll all forget about it if no one says anything.
nine years ago, I offered a thought on the subject—“A
solution for overtime in the NFL”—that came
to a simple conclusion.
an entire extra period. A full fifteen minutes.
original essay needs a lot of work, and it does expand on the
concept. But the thoughts behind the content, for me, hold true.
one realm, it mentions not playing overtime at all during the
regular season and how that isn’t an option… a combination of
ideas around ties being an option in non-playoff scenarios though
too many hitting the standings is a worry, with a nod to the assumption
that injuries go up with additional play. (Mind you, I still
can’t find any information showing that injuries increase in overtime.
That said… if you watched the Patriots drive on the Chiefs to
end the AFC Championship game, you know there is no doubt that
these players are exhausted by the time overtime begins.)
overtime during the regular season isn’t an option. That direction
isn’t going to be explored. Which leads me back to…
the full period.
think all of us could figure out a way that a team trying to run
a 15-minute drive might be able to do it. Might. Almost definitely
will never happen. Not only would it involve keeping a drive active
and clock running for a ridiculous number of plays, chances are
good that a few unpredictable (and simply bizarre) moments would
longest NFL drive to date in history went roughly thirteen and
a half minutes. In college play, a drive spread over two different
quarters ran for fourteen minutes and twenty-six seconds. A lot
of crazy things would need to happen. But theoretically, it could,
and if a team figured out how to do it, then I say more power
to them even if it means both teams didn’t get a possession.
the full extra period would bring in strategy beyond the match-me-if-you-can
approach. It almost certainly does give both teams at least one
possession. But anything with a sudden-death approach is open
to questions, regardless of how it is set up.
the past three NFL seasons, the Patriots advanced to a Super Bowl
in one season and won a championship in another by getting into
overtime and not letting the opposing offense take the field at
greatest call never made
actually think the answer here is pretty straightforward.
NFL has decided that reviews on scoring plays, along with play
after the two-minute warning, should be handled off the field.
No challenges from coaches necessary. Certain scenarios allow
for automatic review.
here are two approaches that I’ll suggest…
adjust the policy to allow for some type of defined clear and
obvious impact upon play review that can be automatically triggered
by the replay official. It could be something that occurs throughout
the game, or something that happens in a defined timeframe such
as the final two minutes of a half. (I prefer the final two minutes
approach, as those are periods where the ability to recover or
adjust becomes more limited. But, a full-game approach could be
fine depending on how it is applied.)
add a third challenge for each coach/team that is based only on
the same concept of an out of the ordinary impact upon play situation.
(I’m not as big a fan of this one, as I think it could become
an excuse to throw the flag hoping something gets spotted as any
close game winds down. But we are talking about an unusual scenario.
And, for instance, I don’t like that coaches are limited in their
number of challenges if they continue to be correct. If you’re
right, and the call was wrong, why are you told you can only challenge
a specific number?)
problem with all of this is the idea that people right now are
screaming for anything to be reviewable. I’m not going to tell
you that I don’t want the game called properly. I am not a person
that thinks human-error needs to be accepted when there are opportunities
and methods to get calls right. But there are times when things
happen that don’t change the course of events, and don’t create
unfair situations. And while this blown interference call was
beyond horrendous, in part it was the timing of the situation
and when it happened during the game that raises it to unreal
heights of inexcusable. The solution shouldn’t create a scenario
where every play is suddenly being reviewed, nor should it create
a situation where every play is reviewed for everything taking
place on the field.
message to the NFL, these issues are now yours to address. (The
only thing I can say is that your silence so far is quite telling.)