Why do the innocent always pay for the sins of the guilty?
In last year’s NFC Championship Game, the New Orleans Saints were screwed out of a first down and a potential trip to the Super Bowl late in their 26-23 OT loss to the Los Angeles Rams thanks to what appeared to be a certain pass interference call that was not whistled by the refs.
It was an egregious miss.
And now, we’re all paying for it.
After outrage from Saints fans, crazy lawsuits, and more outrage by Saints fans, the NFL instituted a rule this past off-season that would allow coaches to challenge plays in which they felt pass interference occurred but was not called by officials on the field.
In Thursday night’s Eagles game against the Packers, the national TV audience was treated to two such reviews, one by Philadelphia and one by Green Bay. Neither were overturned, although on both plays, convincing arguments could have been made that interference occurred.
With about 13 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter and the Eagles holding a slim 21-20 lead, Avonte Maddox appeared to interfere with wide receiver Marquez Valdez-Scantling. Maddox had his back to the play and appeared to push Valdez-Scantling away from the ball as it was in the air.
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur angrily threw down his red challenge flag. The refs went to the monitor and, happily for Eagles fans, ruled against Green Bay, resulting in this response after the game from the frustrated Green Bay coach.
“I really don’t know what pass interference is anymore. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Later in the game, Alshon Jeffery had his hand knocked away by Kevin King on a pass from Carson Wentz. The Eagles challenged that play and, even though the defender hit Jeffery before the ball arrived, the call was not reversed. Not for nothin’, but this decision was far more understandable than the Maddox play.
So what are we doing here, exactly?
If the Maddox play wasn’t overturned, how can any non-pass interference call become pass interference? Are officials trying to discourage coaches from spending their challenges on calls that could make the refs look bad? Or did everyone who watched the replay suddenly suffer from some kind of aneurysm that prevented them from seeing what was plain for all the world to see?
Frankly, I hate this rule. This is akin to baseball’s flawed replay system where runners get called out for sliding past a bag on replay after officials slow the video down by frames of hundredths of seconds in order to see if a part of that player’s body vacated the bag for the briefest of nanoseconds.
If pass interference isn’t called on the field, then that should be it, last year’s NFC Championship Game and angry Saints fans be darned. There are always going to be instances where refs miss stuff. That’s life. That doesn’t mean you have to invent new, obtrusive rules that take away from the flow of the game and force coaches to waste timeouts on plays that are clearly subject to interpretation.
Last night, the Packers got hosed and the Eagles benefited. Cool for us. Regardless, trebuchet this new rule into the sun, please. It’s awful.