Ok, maybe only one blown call.
The arguments will rage on about the penalty disparities between the Steelers and Cardinals tonight (at least I hope, it was kind of silly until late in the game), but one call made by the officials tonight will stand out.
How could the NFL officials assigned to the replay booth in this game not review the last, and ultimately deciding, play of the game?
I should note that I really didn’t have a dog in this fight (yipes, is that a bad pun in today’s Michael Vick-less NFL?), but I’m a typical sports fan in that I appreciate a good underdog. The Arizona Cardinals were not supposed to have a shot in this game, yet there they were on the precipice of making Bill Bidwill more of a hero in Phoenix and further reviled in St Louis.
Alas, Kurt Warner didn’t have enough bullets left in his gun in the last 35 seconds that were afforded his Cardinal offense.
Even if the officials had called the last play an incomplete pass, it’s not likely the Cardinals could’ve sprung Larry Fitzgerald for another touchdown from near midfield.
Ok, so we’ve been through the tuck rule with Tom Brady, we’ve been through several other ridiculous on-field judgments, and then today on the world’s largest NFL stage – the boys upstairs can’t even give the play a quick glance? They’re not even going to humor the Cardinals and Ken Whisenhunt?
The NFL already went through a horrible faceplant re: officials earlier in the season with Ed Hochuli, and now they’re not even going to look at the play again?
As I’ve mentioned (and you probably don’t believe me anymore), I didn’t really have a horse in the race today. But as good as the game was, it would’ve been better (in my mind), if the outcome weren’t ultimately decided by the objective whims of today’s officiating crew.
I understand that the inherent nature of NFL penalties and on-field calls are objective, but since instant replay has been adopted, is it really possible to get one horribly wrong on your largest stage?
Perhaps they did briefly look at the play and come to a consensus that Warner wasn’t trying to throw the ball. The only response I would have for that is that they should get more people to watch the evidence. At least make a show of it. Take two minutes to save face for the Arizona organization, and stop the dancing of the Steelers (especially James Harrison, who lost our respect, and should’ve been kicked out of the game after throwing punches and getting away with it “because possession had already changed”) for at least a couple minutes, make them contemplate how much they were getting away with in this game.
It’s a shame that the NFL is becoming more about the referees’ rough interpretation of both what is happening on the field, and the rules. It is becoming more clear, especially on the largest stage in their sport, that the referees are using instant replay as a crutch and their own interpretation of the rules as superlative to those laid out in their training and “official” book provided by the NFL.