It’s official. Pittsburgh Coach Mike Tomlin is the winner of my first annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey award.
I don’t really have a Turkey award, but if I did, Tomlin would have easily clinched the award Thursday night when his Steelers took on the Ravens in Baltimore.
Here was the situation: Pittsburgh had just scored to cut the Baltimore’s lead to 13-7 with 6:26 left in the third quarter. Pittsburgh’s Shaun Suisham kicked off and Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones received the ball at the goal line.
Jones had a big return going as he headed up the left side of the field. As he was streaking up the Steelers’ sideline he approached Tomlin, who was on the sideline. The official who was tracking Jones, had to angle away from Tomlin, who had actually taken a step on the field at the Steelers’ 38-yard line. Jones was tackled a few yards later at the 27-yard line.
No foul was called on the play, but there should have been.
There is no question in my mind that Tomlin should have been penalized. Granted, the official didn’t run into him, but he was forced to go to the inside and he was hampering his ability to officiate the play.
One might make a case that Jones had to move further in on the field to avoid Tomlin, but I think that’s a stretch.
Regardless, Tomlin has to be aware he can’t be in the solid, six-foot wide white borders that rim the field when the play is coming that direction. And the fact that he was turned around watching the play on the Jumbotron is no excuse.
A 15-yard penalty should have been called and added on to the end of the play and I wouldn’t be surprised if the league looks at this and considers some discipline. I’m not 100 percent sure, because I’ve never been involved with this situation before.
At the end of the day, my biggest disappointment is that the official didn’t buck up and throw the flag.
I bet if you ask Jets coach Rex Ryan, he’d share my opinion. Ryan had a coach penalized against in their game against the Ravens just last week because an official ran into him in the white on the sideline.
So it would have been gravy if I did have Turkey award. Tomlin would have been an easy runaway winner.
NO REST FOR ME
Man, and I thought I was going to have a little break.
I thought my crew and I might have a little turkey, kick back a little bit and relax before having having to focus in on the Texas-Texas Tech Game later on Fox Sports 1.
Before we could even sit down, fireworks exploded in the Oakland-Dallas game. In fact, it happened on the opening play of the game.
The Raiders kicked off and Terrance Williams took the ball nine yards deep in the end zone, and for some unknown reason, decided to bring it out. Williams was hit at the Dallas 20 by Kaelin Burnett and fumbled the ball, which was then picked up by Oakland’s Greg Jenkins, who returned it for touchdown.
It was a bang-bang play and the officials had to review two aspects of the play — the fumble and then the touchdown at the goal line — and do it all in 60 seconds. The first thing they had to review was the Williams fumble. When they decided to let the fumble stand, then they had to look at the touchdown and whether Jenkins got in. That was a much easier decision.
And this is the crew that struggled with replay last week in the Miami-Carolina game, making two mistakes in my opinion. In that game, they stayed with the ruling of a catch when they should have reversed it to incomplete and they reversed a ruling from an incomplete pass to a catch that should have stayed incomplete.
In this case, they were absolutely correct in letting both the ruling of a fumble and a touchdown stand.
You might be able to make a case that Williams’ knee was down before the ball was stripped out, but the word "might" does not equate to indisputable evidence. When in doubt, let the call stand and I’m glad they made that decision.
It’s Thanksgiving and by the end of the day, I expect a lot of things to be empty — ovens, plates, tables and glasses.
I just didn’t expect "empty" to happen so early Thursday. FOX has the first game of the day — Green Bay at Detroit — with the Lions already coming up empty early in the second quarter.
Here was the situation: The Lions had the ball, first-and-10 from their own 20-yard line with a little over two minutes into the start of the second quarter with the scored tied 3-3. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford took the snap out of the shotgun and just as he was getting set to pass the ball, Green Bay linebacker Nick Perry knocked the ball out of his hands. The Packers’ Morgan Bennett picked up the ball at the Detroit 1-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown.
The terminology that has been used for years with quarterback pass-fumble plays is empty hand. If the hand is empty — the ball being loose before the hands starts forward — it’s called an empty hand. So the hand moving forward without the ball.
The ball was knocked out as Stafford was bringing the ball up, cocking it to throw. Since it comes out before the hands starts forward, it’s a fumble and, of course, a fumble can be returned by the defense, which it was for a touchdown by Morgan.
On a day that usually ends up being a lot more about things being full, this was a good ruling by referee Gene Steratore on something that was empty.
REMEMBERING A LEGEND
Seeing Jeff Seeman officiating in the Packers-Lions game was just another reminder of why I’m so thankful today.
Jeff’s dad, Jerry, died this past Sunday at the age of 77.
On a day we all should give thanks, I’m so very happy to have had Jerry Seeman in my life. He was a great referee.
Seeman was an official from 1975-1990, including being the referee in two Super Bowls before moving to the league office, where he ran the officiating department from 1991-2001.
I, for one, certainly know hard that was.
When Jerry came in, he brought structure and discipline to the department and to the officials and he will long be remembered as one of the greats ever to be involved in NFL officiating.
Personally, he taught me a lot about officiating and even more about administrating a program. He will be missed by so many of us who owe him thanks for the opportunity to be involved with the NFL.
It was Jerry Seeman who made the decision to bring me into the National Football League as a side judge in 1996. And it was Jerry Seeman who maybe saw something in me that prompted him to offer me a job as a supervisor of officials in 1998.
I think it’s clearly safe to say that whatever I achieved in officiating, especially at the NFL level, would not have been achieved without his guidance.