It isn’t up for review anymore
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The fireworks had gone off, players from both sides were praying together and the commentators were already questioning why Jim Schwartz went for it rather than kicking when the officials nearly set off a riot announcing the game was not over and the final play was under review.
It wasn’t even the biggest blunder of the afternoon for a crew of replacement officials that by Monday morning will be the subject of every sports radio show in the country.
When a Craig Stephens catch was ruled not a catch and the ball respotted and a penalty for helmet-to-helmet contact re-assessed, the ball went to the wrong 44 yard line. The play had started from the Titans’ 44 after Chris Johnson had lost eight yards on a first-down run. The officials marked the penalty as if the play had begun at the Lions 44 and placed the ball on the Detroit 29.
Instead of the Titans looking to move 41 yards, they were looking to move 29.
In effect, a 27-yard penalty that set up the Titans’ overtime field goal.
“I kept trying to alert them to that fact,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “Obviously there was a miscommunication, I don’t know what you’d call it, from an enforcement standpoint.”
This was a call with the assist from official review and it was so wrong it took minutes before anyone could figure out how to score the play. There’s no line for official screw up in a box score.
Enough is enough.
Bring the regular officials back.
Bring them back now.
The luxury of getting by and belief that it’ll be OK until it’s over is over. The facade hasn’t just cracked; it’s come tumbling down.
In one game, the subject of replacement officials went from a growing concern to a dire and direct assault threatening the immediate integrity of the National Football League. There shouldn’t be an over-under on the number of official mistakes in the game.
Did the Titans really win Sunday? Probably, but the fact there is doubt and that there isn’t one call but multiple points where what officially happened may have changed the outcome can’t help but make you wonder.
Does Bironas hit it if it’s 12 yards back? Do the Titans go for 6 rather than 3 and win it outright?
The fact you’re wondering at all says all you really need to know.
There should be no doubt. Officials are there to make the right call and take the abuse. They will occasionally get it wrong and review is there to help set that right. But when the call is wrong, and the review a compounding factor adding to the chaos rather than a tool to remedy it, the resulting official miscommunication is a travesty. Those aren’t fans wailing just because they want the call to go their way. It’s pleas for someone to step in and reinstate sense, sanity and order to the game.
Sunday was a great game. Maybe the Titans won in the final minute of regulation. Maybe the Lions were cheated in overtime. They certainly lost more yards than the penalty stipulates.
Coaches have said for years there is no substitute for game experience regarding their players and now its time the league and owners recognize the same about the officials who are employed to maintain order in those games.
That much is not up for review.
Marcus Fitzsimmons is sports editor at The Daily Times. He wrote from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter @TDT_Sports