football follies

Okay, I will chime in on the NFL playoffs.  (Ours is a generalist blog so any topic is fair game.)

There has been much controversy and discussion about the “non-call” of a pass interference penalty in the Detroit versus Dallas playoff game this past Sunday.

Here is a comment I posted on another blogger’s post on this topic.  He includes a film clip that shows the infraction(s).


Here is the link to his post.

And, here is my comment.

larryzb says:

January 5, 2015 at 1:18 pm

We have to question the decision not to go for it on 4th and 1 – which was the situation after the flag was picked up.  If you are going to punt, then punt it down the field and do not try this chicken crap angling toward the sideline that increases the chance of a shanked punt.

Bottom line: The Lions do not have a good offense albeit they looked good in the first half.  Thus, the head coach cannot afford to be so conservative in his play selection.  The Lions rarely score lots of points in both halfs of a game. Sitting on a lead cost them this game.  The Lions’ defense deserves better than being dragged down by a poor offense.

end of comment

I think football should be played aggressively.  Coach Caldwell (of Detroit) could have been a little more aggressive in this situation.  A team can practice easy plays that have a good chance of gaining one yard on a 4th down and one yard to go.  Just have your receivers go out 2 or 3 steps and turn around and catch a short pass after the QB fakes a hand-off to keep the defense off balance.  The Lions got a bad break from bad officiating, but they could still have gone on to win the game if they had kept that drive alive and scored another TD.

Actually, I had hoped that the Lions would win as I usually cheer or root for the underdog in sports.  It is interesting that on ESPN radio on Saturday night, the evening before this game, a guest host on one of the programs was complaining about these penalties that carry an automatic first down.  After the “non-call”, the Lions later had 2 of these penalties (defensive pass interference and defensive holding, I think) called against them when Dallas was near the Detroit goal line and was trying to score the go ahead touchdown.  Could it be that the officials were going to keep giving Dallas breaks until they finally scored?  One wonders.  (For flagrant personal fouls, the penalty should carry an automatic first down, yes.  But, perhaps not for other infractions.)

As to bad officiating, that has plagued the NFL for decades.  Part of this is the nature of the game with only a few officials needing to cover much ground and the fast moving action.  But, even with video replay review, there are still bad calls or bad non-calls made.  Perhaps, penalties ought to be reviewed or be challengeable in the future.

Many years ago, I read the late Jack Tatum’s book, They Call Me Assassin, and he mentions one such case of terrible officiating.  Jack Tatum played most of his career as a defensive safety for the Oakland Raiders (in the 1970s).  In the AFC Championship game in Denver after the 1977 season, Tatum, the very hard hitter he was, jarred the ball loose from a Denver player that was running for the goal line just outside the Oakland end zone.  Everyone saw a fumble that the Raiders recovered.  But, wait, an official blew the whistle and called the play dead so there was no fumble.  Tatum asked the official why he did that and the official did not have much of an answer.  (Perhaps he was whistle happy sort of like being trigger happy.)  The result of this was Oakland lost 20 to 17.  As Tatum lamented in his book, this bad call cost the Raiders a trip to the Super Bowl and a lot of extra salary for the players (Tatum included).

Even Franco Harris’ “Immaculate Reception” of December, 1972 is questionable (Oakland at Pittsburgh in the playoffs).  Sure, we give Harris a lot of credit for his heads up play and great catch and run.  But, the rule at the time was that you could not catch a ball that had last been touched by another player of your team after the QB had passed the ball.  Frenchie Fuqua was the intended receiver and Tatum was involved in trying to knock the ball down. Depending on which film clip and camera angle you see this play from, one can be led to conclude that the ball last touched Fuqua’s shoulder pad area before Harris, running a few yards behind, caught the ball before it would have hit the field.  The NFL changed this rule later.

Now, for some other musings on the playoffs this year.

Dallas plays at Green Bay on Sunday.  Much touted Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback for Green Bay, needs to deliver.  Except for his Super Bowl winning run after the 2010 season, he has not gotten his team very far in the playoffs.  After the 2009 season, again after 2011, and after the 2013 season, the Packers were beaten in their first playoff game.  After the 2012 season, Green Bay won in the first round only to lose in the second round.  Rodgers is one of the best QBs during the regular season year after year, but his playoff performance has been disappointing.  Will bad officiating play a role in the outcome?

New England hosts Baltimore on Saturday.  The Ravens have beaten the Patriots in New England in the playoffs after the 2009 season and again after the 2012 season.  As well, the Ravens nearly won there after the 2011 season. Yes, the Patriots are a solid team with a great QB, Tom Brady.  But, they have won their division year after year after year because it has been the weakest or 2nd weakest division in the NFL for many years.  Go Ravens.  Joe Flacco, the Ravens’ QB, has shown he is a great QB and has won several road playoff games in the past several years.  The Ravens’ defense is still pretty strong.

(Actually I never cared for New England, the region of the country.  The funny accents and the big government liberal politics just never excited me, but I digress.)

The late game on Saturday has Carolina at Seattle.  The Panthers have been playing well in their last 5 games, but Seattle has also played well in their last several games.  This should be a good game.

Sunday’s other game is Indianapolis visiting Denver.  It is difficult to give Indy much of a chance in this one.  Yet, there could be an upset – we will have to wait and see.

For football fans, enjoy these games – this is your time of year.

copyright 2015 –

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