View Full Version : NFL officiating a punchline

10-19-2009, 06:57 PM
NFL officiating a punchline
Monday, October 19, 2009
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sometimes you can't really appreciate how incompetent the Browns are until you see them in the flesh, and though the semi-annual Steelers appointment yesterday proved reliably that Cleveland's NFL entry is again comically bad, it was hard not to notice that the officials were funnier.

Not by much, mind you; the Browns brought out some hilarious stuff, like the third-down fumble nullified by a delay of game penalty (that's right, they can't even fumble on time), but referee Walt Anderson and his crew were more consistently chuckly.

After Cleveland linebacker David Bowens was flagged for roughing Ben Roethlisberger late in the first half, Anderson took to the field microphone and explained that Bowens was guilty of "forcibly taking the quarterback to the ground."

My gracious.

Forcibly? Well, it's often difficult to talk them down.

And you thought forcibly taking the passer to the ground was somewhere in the standard linebacker job description. It might even be the mission statement.

The Browns weren't laughing after a fourth-and-1 play on the same Steelers possession resulted in a measurement the Cleveland defense had just begun to celebrate when officials ruled -- wait a minute -- first down. Fooled 'ya.

Anderson was compelled to explain that one in the postgame, and dutifully came up with this:

"The ball has to penetrate the plane of the stake. When we set the ball up ready to measure and we bring the chains out, the chains are set beside the football; they're not put down on top of the football. So I get on the side and I'm looking straight in at that angle. So when the stakes go down I'm sighting in between the nose of the football and the stake. So if the nose of the football touches the stake, then it's a first down. It's kind of like a football touching the plane of the goal line. But we don't actually put the stake up against the nose of the ball because of the way the ball is shaped. The chains and the stake are laid beside, so it kind of depends on the angle you might be looking at it from."

Uh-huh. But all I learned right there was that I was suddenly hungry for a steak.

Roethlisberger actually had a better explanation: "We got lucky."

Luck took a coffee break two plays later, when Roethlisberger's perfect fade pass was pulled in expertly by a twisting Hines Ward, but the touchdown was overturned on review despite the inconvenient truth that Ward caught the ball and came down with it in the end zone.

"The ruling I thought was you have to have control while you're in the end zone," Ward said after a sizzling eight-catch, 159-yard effort (120 on the first five). "What the ref said was that you have to continue, no matter how many times you roll. On the second roll the ball hit my thigh and moved a little bit. I had complete control of the ball when I caught it in the end zone."

Anderson disallowed it, but it wasn't Anderson's fault. He was just enforcing a ridiculous rule that is the theoretical opposite of the famous ground-can't-cause-a-fumble dictum. If the ground can't cause a fumble, how can a series of momentum-driven rolls be allowed to cause a negated touchdown?

So instead of being up, 21-7, at the half, the Steelers were briefly in danger when the Browns decided to cram a month's worth of touchdowns (one) into the third quarter. A 45-yard catch by Ward helped stretch the lead back to 24-14.

"It's all about opportunities," Ward said. "I just try to take advantage of the ones I have and that's what I preach to the other guys. We all want the ball out there, but you're only as good as your opportunities. You take away the turnovers we had and we're still out there putting up more yards. I think we had over 500 yards of offense."

Five-hundred forty-three to be tedious, but the turnovers numbered a shocking four, three of them coming in a slapstick second-half sequence in which the Steelers and Browns turned it over on five consecutive possessions. The fifth of those was easily the goofiest, coming when Rashard Mendenhall fled around the right edge, landed in a pile up, and lay there indifferently until backup linebacker Kaluka Maiava ripped it loose for Bowens to recover.

"I was laying on the ground!" Mendenhall said afterward. "Maybe they decided I was on top of some people, but there were parts of me that were on the ground. But still, you can't leave it up to them. You have to hang on to it."

Evidently. When you're on your back in the semi-turtle, I would suggest forward progress has been expired, as had the third quarter, which was when Anderson got back on the field mic and announced, "This is the end of the first quarter!"


There are three more quarters of this?

Blessedly, the remainder of this 27-14 Steelers victory passed without incident, unless you count Browns linebacker Jason Trusnik somehow avoiding a penalty when he forcibly took Roethlisberger to the ground, and unless you count the Ryan Clark interception near the goal line after which officials ruled the Steelers would get the ball at the 20, then re-ruled that it should be spotted at the 1.

Anderson explained from the field the seldom heard phenomenon of "interception momentum."

Asked about that, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said "I have no idea what Walt was talking about."

Funny, but he wasn't laughing.
Gene Collier can be reached at gcollier@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09292/1006677-66.stm#ixzz0UQfzs5B9

10-19-2009, 07:31 PM
I'm glad we won, or else this would not be nearly as amusing.

10-20-2009, 01:58 AM
lol @

the Steelers were briefly in danger when the Browns decided to cram a month's worth of touchdowns (one) into the third quarter.

10-20-2009, 03:27 AM
Let's see what we learned. The ground can't force a fumble. UNLESS IT DOES! And, it takes a lot of skill to hold a man up so someone else can rip the ball lose. OK so they didn't hold Rashard up in this case but the same rule applied and it's not skillful. IT'S BS and should be changed. Skill is when you hit the man in such a way as to jar the ball lose. If it takes help holding him while you do that you're nothing more than a thug taking advantage of a BS rule.

10-20-2009, 10:01 AM
Funny article. But only because we won.

10-20-2009, 10:09 AM

10-20-2009, 10:12 AM

OK. But we're not sure what you are laughing at.:wink02:

10-20-2009, 10:19 AM
I don't usually pile on the officials, because their jobs are extremely difficult, but there were some really weird calls this past weekend.

10-20-2009, 10:30 AM
I was dying when I read about the month's worth of touchdowns.

10-20-2009, 11:23 AM
so if ward catches a 10 yard pass and then runs 50 more yards and the ball comes loose and hits the ground...it's not a fumble but an incomplete pass :chuckle::chuckle::chuckle:

10-20-2009, 11:45 AM
so if ward catches a 10 yard pass and then runs 50 more yards and the ball comes loose and hits the ground...it's not a fumble but an incomplete pass :chuckle::chuckle::chuckle:

Yes, but only if we would've recovered the ball. If our opponents would've recovered, it's a fumble, and also the Patriots are awarded an extra first- and third-round draft pick.

10-20-2009, 01:59 PM
The way the refs are going, the offense is moving towards rugby and the defense has to play like golf to when it comes to the QB.

I think there has to be a definition of what actually constitutes a football game. The refs are taking over the games resulting in inconsistancies on the field and confusion among players and fans.

If it didn't look so pathetic I would swear that the games were rigged like the NBA.

This is the dark side of instant replay. The refs are relying so much on cameras that they cannot grasp the fundamentals of the game. If this is going to be the case, the NFL needs to put an officiating team in the booth to stop all the foolishness by the zebras on the field. It is affecting the integrity of the game.

10-21-2009, 01:38 PM
if you watched the ALCS last night you'd have to agree that MLB umps suck equally as bad as NFL refs.

10-21-2009, 03:19 PM
Good article, entertaining and different from the regular bobble head articles we normally get. I agree about starting to lose the integrity of the game. I honestly think Ward's TD was overturned BECAUSE of the nonfirst down - first down. The refs knew they screwed the pooch and had to make amends for it. And for the love of god, how does the new NFL think the old Quarterbacks survived when they were aloud to be hit? Hitting is part of the game, take the damn flags off already!

10-21-2009, 03:28 PM
And for the love of god, how does the new NFL think the old Quarterbacks survived when they were aloud to be hit? Hitting is part of the game, take the damn flags off already!

But guys today are so much bigger.... (and Mean Joe, Curley Culp, Rosie Grier and the like were all pygmies or something) :blah: :blah: :blah: