Monday, November 15, 2010

Time to make penalties reviewable

If you watched that debacle of a Giants game yesterday, you probably felt like all the New York writers did: the Giants blew the game, with the Cowboys exploiting their mistakes. While this is generally true, one key call late in the game REALLY cost the Giants the game. I refer to the holding penalty that brought back a Giant touchdown that would have gotten the Giants within six. On the next play, Eli fumbled, and the rest is history. How BIG was that call? Enormous. And it was suspect, at best. The blocker had his arm around a guy's leg for a brief moment, but quickly let go.

In the 49ers game,in Overtime, an official threw a pass interference flag on a ball that was not catchable. The 49ers were set up, and quickly kicked the wining field goal.

It is hard enough in football to overcome your own mistakes, but it is even harder to overcome official penalty mistakes, because you have no recourse. You can ask for review of out of bonds, fumbles, and the like, but you can't ask to review an official's penalty call.

Game 1, Jets/Ravens this year. Joe Flacco throws a pass in the end zone. The Jet defender is looking back at the ball and is playing it. The official throws the flag. The Ravens go on to score the only touchdown of the game after getting the ball at the one. I never did see a replay of the play (I only saw it from my vantage point in the upper deck), but it looked like how I described it: two players with equal rights for the ball going for it.

Of course, some would argue that pass interference should just be a yardage, and not a spot of the foul penalty, as it is in college. I don't support this because the pass interference becomes a preferred weapon to prevent touchdowns. I'd gladly accept a pass interference call on a 50 yard pass if it will only cost me ten or fifteen yards. No, the answer is to make the penalty reviewable.


  1. There are those who have been wanting this in MLB for years - but the purists won't have it.
    But the bad calls can go both ways; some days you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.

  2. I mostly disagree. Yes, it is frustrating to have penalties decide a game. However, making penalties reviewable you are effectively saying "We will challenge things that are a matter of opinion, not fact." Was a runner's knee down is a much different thing to challenge than "Was this guy honestly unable to make that catch because of the defender?" or "Was the lineman slowed enough to have an impact on the play?" It would make overturning some calls make you feel just like you do when they make them. Honestly, the pass int. call on defense is a bit much. If refs will be so loose about calling it, it needs to be a 10 yard penalty, or at least have a cap. If it is a blatant pass int (receiver beat the defender and he drags him down without playing the ball to prevent a TD) - make the defender sit out the rest of the drive. Be innovative. Replay can't solve everything. We're human after all.

  3. If it is frustrating to have (wrongly called)penalties decide a game, then why should they not be challenged? I am not suggesting we add challenges, as many people have. Two plus one if you get the two right sounds like good strategy to me. Coaches make decisions about when to challenge a play if THEY think it is the right move to make. Certainly, penalties fall under this. But a team can be penalized 5-10 times per game. How does a coach choose which one to challenge?

    Hey Potts antiques - you can't have review of penalties in baseball - there aren't any. I mention this for football because penalties make such a huge difference week in and week out, and football already has instant replay for most plays.


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