Great NFL Championship Games Were Tainted By Officiating Faux Pas and a Rule Flaw
By Ken Reed
I don’t know why some people aren’t sports fans, but I certainly am glad I am. Yesterday’s NFL games reinforced that feeling even more.
What great drama and entertainment the NFL gave us with the AFC and NFC championship games. Elite athleticism and clutch performances were on exhibit by players from each of the four teams.
Sadly, the primary topic of conversation in offices, at lunch counters, and in fitness clubs today isn’t about two extremely exciting and entertaining football games. It’s about an official’s error in the NFC title game and a stupid overtime rule in the AFC title game.
Let’s start with the NFC championship game. The Saints very likely would be making Super Bowl travel plans today if it weren’t for a faulty video review system. With 1:49 to play, the Saints were driving near the Rams goal line, when Drew Brees threw a pass towards wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman plowed into Lewis way before the ball arrived. Basically, every one in the stadium saw it as pass interference except the officials on the field. With the penalty, the Saints could’ve killed most of the clock before kicking the go-ahead field goal or scoring a go-ahead touchdown. Instead they had to kick the go-ahead field goal with a 1:41 remaining, allowing the Rams enough time to march down the field and tie the game via a field goal, sending the game to overtime.
The NFL’s officiating video review system needs to be fixed. The league should have a referee in a booth upstairs with the power to call blatant missed penalties like the pass interference play at the end of the Saints-Rams game. And put a time limit on it. The missed pass interference play in the Saints-Rams game would’ve taken no longer than 30 seconds to review and get right.
The bottom line here is, if you’re going to allow the use of video review during games you HAVE to find a way for that pass interference non-call in the Saints-Rams game to be reviewed.
Regarding the AFC championship game, featuring the Chiefs and Pats, all I can ask is, have you ever heard of such moronic overtime rules in your life?
What sense does it make to say to the team that loses the coin toss, “Hey, if the other team scores a field goal on its first possession, we’ll give you guys a chance to score. But if the other team scores a touchdown we won’t give you a chance.”
The current NFL overtime rules make the coin flip to start the overtime a major factor in determining the game’s outcome. And that should never be the case.
It certainly isn’t a fair system. In a game of big plays, the biggest might have been the Pats winning the coin flip to start the overtime period.
But it’s a simple solution: Each team should get a chance to have the ball so a coin flip doesn’t impact the outcome.
I much prefer the college game’s overtime rules to the NFL’s. But I would modify the college rules some. I think each team should get the ball at the 50-yard line. That would give each team a fair shot to win the game, but make it a little harder to score than in the college game, where each team starts at the defense’s 25-yard-line.
Both the Rams and Patriots played some great football on Sunday but one team is in the Super Bowl largely due to a blown call and the other team is in the Super Bowl largely because they won a coin flip.
Both of those things are wrong. And they are issues that need to be addressed by the NFL asap.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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