Challenge rule could use tweaking

October 27, 2010

I have been thinking about the Minnesota at Green Bay game in Week 7, and it is unfortunate two plays involving touchdowns ended up being officiated incorrectly, one with the use of replay and the other without.

It is the play that didn’t use replay that I would like to talk about.

Green Bay had the ball at the Minnesota 9-yard line with 14:57 left in the second quarter. A third-down pass into the end zone was ruled a touchdown, putting the Packers ahead 14-7. NBC first showed the reaction of Andrew Quarless, who did the Lambeau Leap. Then the network showed one replay from the high end-zone shot from behind the offense, followed by a second replay it had to cut off to cover the point-after attempt that ended up being snapped about 35 seconds from the time the touchdown was ruled.

The Packers had rushed their extra-point team on the field to snap the ball as quickly as possible — they knew Quarless was close to the end line when he caught the ball and they didn’t want the Vikings to see any replays that might lead them to challenge.

After the PAT and the ensuing kickoff, NBC re-aired the replay cut off before the try , and it clearly showed the pass was incomplete and it should not have been a touchdown.

Scoring plays are the biggest plays in instant replay. So is there any way to keep this from happening again? I think there is.

The try is a dead play. The clock does not run. If a touchdown is ruled, let a coach challenge or a replay assistant initiate a review any time up until the kickoff after the try. Why not?

The only argument I have heard in the past is you wouldn’t want to take a point (the extra point) off the board.

Well, if it wasn’t really a touchdown, there shouldn’t have been an extra point anyway. Not only did a team get six points it didn’t deserve, but it also got another one point on top of that.

This can be and might have been the difference between winning and losing for the Vikings.

Television did its job, as it must present the game showing reactions of players, coaches and fans. NBC almost got the critical replay, but it had only 35 seconds to do all of this. The Vikings staff didn’t get the key shot that would have led the coaches to challenge.

When it comes to the ruling of a touchdown, give the coaches time to do their jobs. It makes sense to me.

Other thoughts:

• Davone Bess of the Miami Dolphins threw the ball into the stands after scoring a touchdown with two minutes remaining in the second quarter. That will cost him a $5,000 fine. If he does it a second time this season, it will cost him $10,000.

The reason for the fine is the concern fans might end up fighting for the ball and it may lead to injuries. It is, however, OK to hand or flip the ball directly to someone who is sitting in the first couple of rows.

• In New Orleans, a member of the chain crew, Al Nastasi, was leveled by a gunner who was blocked out of bounds as he was attempting to get downfield to cover the kick. It was a horrific collision, and Nastasi was put on a stretcher and taken to the hospital. He was later listed in stable condition with a closed head injury.

This is an example of how dangerous it is down on the field.

• In the Chicago-Washington game, DeAngelo Hall intercepted a pass with 1:36 left in the third quarter and returned it for a touchdown. Once in the end zone, he slid down on both knees and raised both hands to the sky to acknowledge God’s role.

This is not a foul! That is the only time you are allowed to go to the ground. There is not an official around who wants to penalize God.

• I overreacted with my criticism of Lovie Smith and his staff for not challenging the play that resulted in a Jay Cutler fumble.

Had the play been challenged, it would have been overturned to a Bears touchdown, as Cutler broke the plane before the fumble. I know that, because I was able to freeze the video. The Bears coaches didn’t have that luxury.

They had just lost a challenge on the previous play, and if they had lost this one, they would have burned two timeouts in the first four minutes of the second half and would have had no more challenges.

It is never as easy as you think, and I should have thought that through. Live and learn.