Count me among the few people who liked the fact that the NFL wasn’t overturning very many pass interference calls.
This season’s great experiment to see if judgement calls are worth reversing has been good from one perspective: It has actually discouraged coaches from challenging too much. One of the great downsides of replay has been boring stoppages in play by encouraging replay.
Nobody buys a ticket or even tunes into a game to watch somebody officiate a game. Just doesn’t happen.
OK, maybe the first or second time that somebody becomes a ref in the NFL. After that, it’s about as exciting as watching your kid take an SAT.
Son, let me know how you did when the scores arrive.
Anyway, the NFL had done a good job of limiting the desire of coaches to get loopy with the PI challenges. From Week 4 to Week 11, coaches had gone only 1 for 33 on PI challenges, according to the dutiful research of ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. That included the controversial non-call and refusal to change the non-call against Baltimore’s Marlon Humphrey, when he pretty clearly interfered with Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins last Sunday.
While some people have mocked the league for that, I actually applaud it. Yes, the league needed some type of replay rule to deal with what happened in the Rams-Saints playoff game.
What it doesn’t need is a whole lot changing judgement calls that get into the heads of officials, who already have a brutal job and therefore, undermines officiating even more.
Then, just when I had the belief that the NFL was getting this right – yeah, I know most of you disagree, I don’t care – here comes an official’s review and change of a pretty mundane play in the Miami-Cleveland game. It’s the kind of play that will open the door again for coaches to want to challenge.
The pass to the Browns Odell Beckham was a ball that clearly behind him, but the officials reviewed the play. No one of Cleveland was screaming for a review. It was second down and Freddie Kitchens actually looked a little surprised that the review was even requested.
He was almost flabbergasted when the call was reversed and Miami’s Nick Needham was flagged. It gave the Browns first and goal at the six and Kareem Hunt scored to make it 27-0 on the next play.
Was it pass interference? Maybe a little bit, but not enough to make it worthy of reversal. Certainly not this year. The fact that it was even reviewed was startling.
But the bigger point is that the league doesn’t need this.
Yes, you can make the argument that the league needs to get plays right. At the same time, there probably a penalty of some kind on every other play, if not more. If you want to get every call right on every play, that’s a noble goal.
I hope you like seven-hour games.
There is a level of humanness that we all need to tolerate when it comes to officiating. The best the league can hope for is that officials are consistent across the board. But even that is wishful.
Everything that is done erodes the confidence of officials, which is bad for the game. This is not just about the actual calls, it’s about the operation of the game. That’s what officials really do. They make sure the game runs smoothly. The best way to do that is if the officials are confident.
In addition, nobody wants more stoppages.
Sure, if there’s a way to streamline replay so that it doesn’t take too much time, that would be great. So far, there haven’t been a lot of solutions for that.
What nobody wants is more stoppages. On Sunday, the NFL opened the door in Cleveland for more.
Dolphins look to win in familiar road place
Forgive the Dolphins is they are feeling like they’re having a little “Deja Vu.” That’s because for the second straight week, they will be right back at the Meadowlands, as the visitors. This time, against the Giants.
However, we’ll further forgive the Fins, coach Brian Flores and the fans, if they aren’t quite over last weekend’s trip to “the Big Apple.”
Questionable calls and decisions by the coaching staff have plagued the Dolphins all season. And in the 4th quarter, just when it seemed like they were going to make another one that could cost them the game, they called time out and ended up making the right call.
That’s when Miami, trailing the Jets 16 to 15 and sitting around the 28-yard line, was about to go for it on 4th and one after just hitting a 53-yard field goal earlier. But, after thinking about it, they sent Jason Sanders and the field goal unit on, yet again, with him kicking a 37-yarder… That made it six field goals on the day for the Dolphins, and they finished with an amazing seven made field goals, setting a new Miami Dolphins record.
Going into Week 14, the Dolphins were scoring 16.67 points per game. Prior to their showdown with the Jets this weekend where they covered the spread at SBR best sportsbook, the Fins were putting up 16 points on the road, but now they have managed to increase that number to exactly 17 points per game on the highway.
They did everything they wanted and needed, made the Jets use all three of their time outs and then put up that last field goal to take the lead… but still blew it on defense on first down of the next possession when Darnold threw the ball from the 20-yard line to Smith and coverage went for the deflection instead of a solid tackle in-bounds and the Smith ended up getting a long reception with a chunk of yards after the catch.
Then, a big and controversial pass interference that we wrote about Monday that wasn’t called on the field to keep the drive alive. Then with nothing left on the clock, Jets kicker Sam Ficken boots a field goal to win the game 22-21. Miami lost, but again, they didn’t get beaten by the Jets, they beat themselves with silly mistakes on the final drive.
The Giants have struggled all season. They had a brief moment of hope early in the year when Daniel Jones had a couple of good games. But since then, they have been tail-spinning in a downward spiral. They went back veteran Super Bowl winning QB Eli Manning on Monday night, and looked good for 17-3 third quarter lead. Alas, they allowed the Eagles to tie them late and beat them with a TD in overtime.
That pretty well sums up the sad state of the Giants, who may be parting with coach Pat Shurmur soon.
The G-men are putting up 19 points per game overall, but they fall to 16.66 points per game while at home and allow almost 26 (25.66) per game. Meanwhile, the Dolphins allow 27.33 per game on the road.
So we have what amounts to a less than 1-point scoring differential. This one could be another battle just like we saw last weekend against the Jets.
As we mentioned, the plus side for the Dolphins is it’s the same stadium. It isn’t like they have to go to a different venue on their back-to-back road games, and they should be familiar.
Now, let’s see if Miami can put the ball in the endzone this week.
Pass interference overrule in Jets win over Dolphins shows flaws
The inconsistent application and rulings of the new NFL pass interference replay policy was, again, on full display Sunday afternoon at The Meadowlands. And when the league’s officiating command center gave the Jets a first down on a pass interference call that wasn’t even made by their game officials, it helped New York kick the winning field goal to beat the Dolphins 22 – 21.
And, understandably, Dolphins coach Brian Flores was none too happy with the whole thing.
Although Flores refused to elaborate about why he went running after and arguing with the officials before his post-game handshake with Jets coach (and former Dolphins boss) Adam Gase, it was clear he was none too pleased with the ending to the game.
From last nite…The afternoon for Brian Flores and Adam Gase: Emotions decided by an unseen strangerhttps://t.co/XkUmph2hWK
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) December 9, 2019
To reset the scene, the Jets were driving trying to retake the lead trailing 21 – 19. This was after Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders had made his seventh field goal from 37 yrards for Miami to hold a two-point advantage.
Then on a 3rd and 18 play, Sam Darnold’s incompletion to Vyncint Smith may or may not have been enough contact to throw a flag. The on-field officials let it go.
But, that’s when the NFL supervisor of officials Al Riveron, his assistants and the command center initiated a replay review, as it was under two minutes remaining in the game.
Eventually Riveron overruled the on-field refs, and he gave the Jets the pass interference call, a first down at the Miami 38, and it eventually led to Sam Ficken making the game winning field goal from 44 yards out with no time left.
Now, it was not the first time, even recently, that the NFL has done this in the final two minutes with the game on the line. In the Buccaneers win over the Arizona Cardinals last month, Riveron and the command center overruled the on-field officials having not thrown a flag. That’s when Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans was clearly interfere with in the end zone, as Tampa Bay was looking for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Buccaneers got a first and goal at the one, scored and won the game 30 – 27.
Further adding to the confusion and controversy is that the NFL has been so reluctant to overturn flags for pass interference, one way or the other, throughout this first year of using instant replay for pass interference.
However the command center in New York has now demonstrated, not just with the Evans situation but even another case in the Dolphins-Browns game a couple of weeks ago, that they will use replay to overrule their on-field officials and make a penalty call in the final two minutes of a half or game.
Our Jason Cole wrote that this aspect of the review mechanism is troubling and potentially only going to get worse. This is because the league is interjecting themselves rather than backing their guys on the field who didn’t throw a flag unless it is blatantly obvious.
Back to Sunday, Miami had numerous chances, especially early, to get touchdowns while moving inside the Jets 10 yard line. However, three times, Sanders kicked a field goal of 28 yards or less giving Miami only nine points at the half.
The Dolphins had plenty of struggles in losing to Gase/their AFC East rival, and the replay decisions out New York aren’t going to make anyone feel any better about it.