In football, it better not be, especially when it comes to an empty hand and the officials’ eyes.
The play in question came in the "win-or-out" playoff-type game between Green Bay and Chicago Sunday.
Article continues below ...
Here was the situation: Green Bay had the ball, first-and-10 at the Chicago 17-yard-line with 3:35 left in the second quarter. Chicago led 7-3. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got the ball in the shotgun formation and as he was attempting to pass the ball, was hit from behind by Bears defensive end Julius Peppers. It was obvious that the players on the field initially thought the ball was an incomplete pass because everybody stopped. But Jarrett Boykin eventually picked the ball up and ran it into the end zone to give the Packers a 10-7 lead.
We’re often quick to criticize officials, but sometimes slow to compliment them.
On this play, the officials deserve a lot of compliments. The first one goes to referee Clete Blakeman, who has had his struggles this year, but immediately ruled a fumble on the play. And it was the correct call.
Contact from Peppers came from behind, which knocked the ball loose in Rodgers’ hand before the hand started forward. The contact combined with Rodgers’ throwing motion made the ball go forward about 8-10 yards.
The second part of the play the officials handled perfectly, was that they did not blow the whistle downfield, even though the ball ended up going downfield. They held off their whistles even as the ball rolled dead, which in this case, was eventually picked up by Boykin who ran it 15 yards into the end zone.
More often than not, I see downfield officials killing the play when the ball comes downfield like that.
I know a lot of people in Chicago weren’t happy with the call, but it was the correct call.
FLOPPING HAS TO GO
We’re just days away from the New Year, and with that, I think perhaps the NFL needs to look at coming up with a new rule next year concerning something that’s usually more associated with soccer or the NBA than it is with professional football: flopping.
There was key play in the Carolina-Atlanta game that helped the Panthers and eventually led to a go-ahead touchdown.
Here was the situation: Carolina had the ball, third-and-7 at its own 32-yard line with 8:22 left in the third quarter. Atlanta led 17-14. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton scrambled around the left end for 10 yards and as he was headed to the sideline faked like he was not going out of bounds, but did as he was being shoved by the Falcons’ Paul Worrilow. Worrilow was called for unnecessary roughness, but it clearly looked like Newton flopped while going to the ground.
The penalty moved the ball to the Atlanta 43-yard line and seven plays later, the Panthers scored to take a 21-17 lead.
It’s hard enough to officiate this game in real time without having to deal with players taking flops, which Newton clearly did on this play.
It makes the game look more like soccer than football, where players are notorious for flopping.
The NBA has dealt with it by actually tracking flops and taking discipline against players that do so. There’s no room for that in this game and it really puts the officials in difficult situations, especially when it’s the quarterback, which the league goes over the top to protect.
The NFL needs to hop to it and get rid of the football flop.
LET’S THINK ABOUT FLYING HELMETS
Here’s something to wrap your noggin around.
It will be interesting to see what the NFL’s future plans will be regarding when a player loses his helmet. And I was given a heads up about that on a play that took place during the Indianapolis-Jacksonville game Sunday.
Here was the situation: Jacksonville had the ball, fourth-and-18 at its own 13-yard line with 10:03 left in the first quarter. Indianapolis led 7-0. Bryan Anger punted the ball 46 yards to the Indianapolis 41-yard line and it was returned five yards by Griff Whalen, who was tackled by LaRoy Reynolds, who had lost his helmet while pursuing the play.
Will the NFL follow the college and high school rule that states that once you lose your helmet for whatever reason, whether it’s pulled off or whether it comes off accidentally, you can not pursue the play?
Reynolds had his helmet come off and then he pursued the play and made the tackle. Interestingly, he turned his head to the side while making the tackle.
However, it is a player safety rule that the NCAA adopted just recently and I think it’s safe to say the NFL will look at it as well during the offseason. In some ways, the NFL has already followed the NCAA rules in terms of a helmet coming off a runner, for example.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the NFL headed that way.