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Monday, January 05, 2015

Finally, a good game

The difference between watching games between two teams who should be in the playoffs - Dallas and Detroit - and teams who shouldn't be - pretty much the other six teams - was glaringly apparent yesterday. I think the playoffs worked best when there were three divisions and one wild card team; just as there are more teams than there are NFL-caliber quarterbacks, there are more teams in the playoffs than there are playoff-caliber teams.

But as long as there are four divisions (which works well for other reasons), it would be better if there was only one wild card team and one first-round bye. I have no regard for the "best teams" argument, because the only "best teams" that matter are already guaranteed entry. If you're only the third-best team in your four-team division, you shouldn't be in the playoffs. If you're only the third-best of the non-division winners, you shouldn't be in the playoffs.

The Eagles, who lost to the Seahawks, Cowboys, and Redskins before beating the Giants to close out the season, weren't going to do anything that Carolina won't do, which is to say lose to the Seahawks next weekend.

As for last night's game, it was good to see Tony Romo finally get the playoff monkey off his back. The controversial call shouldn't have been made in the first place, because a) it was offensive pass interference when Pettigrew grabbed Hitchens's facemask, b) the contact was minimal, and most importantly, c) it was a completely uncatchable ball. Stafford literally hit Hitchens in the back right in the numbers; there was absolutely no way the receiver had any sort of play on the ball. Furtheremore, there is no "face-guarding" rule in the NFL, or, for that matter, in NCAA football; it is only deemed pass interference in high school football, specifically National Federation of State High School Associations rule 7-5-10: "Any player hinders an opponent's vision without making an attempt to catch, intercept or bat the ball, even though no contact was made."

When the officials call pass interference on a player who hasn't turned around, they do so because he has crashed into a receiver who is coming back for a high ball, to distinguish them from defenders who crash into a receiver when they themselves are going for a high ball. That was not the case in the play being discussed, for the obvious reason that Stafford threw the ball into the Dallas linebacker's back. Recall the NFL's pass interference rules: Actions that do not constitute pass interference include but are not limited to: (c) Contact that would normally be considered pass interference, but the pass is clearly uncatchable by the involved players.

ESPN's Todd Archer asked Pete Morelli (who is admittedly not a very good ref: see the NFC Championship Game 2009) about the call turned non-call:
Todd Archer: Can you talk about the decision to overturn the call and why you overturned the call?
Pete Morelli: The back judge threw his flag for defensive pass interference. We got other information from another official from a different angle that thought the contact was minimal and didn’t warrant pass interference. He thought it was face-guarding.
Archer: Which official?
Morelli: The head linesman.
Archer: What did you see?
Morelli: It’s not my responsibility. I’m a hundred miles away.
Archer: Face-guarding is not a foul?
Morelli: Face-guarding is not a foul. It is a penalty in college but not in professional football.
Archer: What is the process you go through after you announce the call? Should you have waited before you announced the call?
Morelli: Probably, yes. The information came and then the officials got together a little bit later, after it was given to me, the first information. It would have probably been smoother if we got together.
He did the right thing. It's better to get it right and look like a fool or a fix than allow a bad call to stand when he knows better. As for the decision not to flag Dez Bryant for coming onto the field without his helmet in protest of the call, I think it was a correct no-call. We want to see the refs let minor things go in the playoffs (that's why Suh was permitted to play when his suspension would never have been overturned in the regular season), and no one wants to see a playoff game settled by an off-the-field foul by an excited player in an overheated moment that harmed no one. I wish more NFL games this year had been refereed in the style Dallas-Detroit was; I simply do not understand those fans who seem to enjoy a blizzard of yellow flags and seeing every third play called back.

If the Lions fans want to blame anyone, they should blame Jim Caldwell for failing to go for it on 4th-and-1. The football gods obviously did not like that, as they promptly punished the Lions with a 10-yard shanked punt. Caldwell played to avoid losing throughout the second half; switching to a four-man rush and abandoning the blitz took the pressure off Romo, who made Detroit pay for it.

And besides, those petty flags would have caused us to miss the redemption of Dallas's rookie defensive end, whose utter stupidity in not falling down to seal the game once he'd recovered the fumble was made up for by creating and recovering another fumble to win the game. In the end, with two minutes left and two timeouts, Stafford only managed to produce two fumbles. Game over. The better team won.

Labels:

55 Comments:

Blogger J Curtis January 05, 2015 6:02 AM  

I agree, the Lions should have went for it on 4th and 1. Nothing ventured...

Anonymous tdm January 05, 2015 6:21 AM  

Redemption is a beautiful thing.

Anonymous MrGreenMan January 05, 2015 6:50 AM  

"Caldwell played to avoid losing throughout the second half"

The life lesson in there should be: Keep doing what you're doing when you're winning.

Blogger Russell Widhalm January 05, 2015 7:51 AM  

The Eagles, who lost to the Seahawks, Cowboys, and Redskins

That's why the Eagles didn't make the playoffs. No team that loses to the Redskins with the playoffs on the line deserves to be in the playoffs.

And with Nick Foles, the Eagles are a different team and win one of those games. With Mark Sanchez, the Eagles would have lost in the Wild Card round anyway.

Blogger Leatherwing January 05, 2015 7:55 AM  

Lawrence's redemption was a good thing to see.. He made a rookie mistake, but kept playing at a high level and was there when another opportunity came (or when he created an opportunity).

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman seemed to believe the pass interference call should have stood (I don't - like VD said, if anything it was offensive interference). But also, Detroit's 99 yard TD drive was possible only after Dallas was flagged for running into the punter. Detroit later ran into Dallas' punter but was not flagged. No one can know if Dallas would have capitalized (probably not since it was in the first half and they just weren't really together yet). But there were blown calls and no calls in both directions.

I was glad for Romo. He has really good stats, but the playoff monkey is like a doom hanging over him. I hope he's out from under it. I don't expect them to make the Superbowl, but another win or two would be good.

Anonymous Michael January 05, 2015 8:00 AM  

I can't believe that the Lions blew a 20-7 lead in the 3rd Qtr and let the game slip away. I wanted them to win.

Ah well, in the final analysis it's still an entertainment company.

Blogger JaimeInTexas January 05, 2015 8:13 AM  

I am not a football fan. I enjoy watching a good game and favor the home team, the Texans.
I totally disagree with letting Suh play. He is a dirty player and his stepping on ankles, purposely, can end up ending a player's career. Says a lot, negatively, about the Lions' coach and organization.

Blogger James Dixon January 05, 2015 8:52 AM  

> I think the playoffs worked best when there were three divisions and one wild card team; just as there are more teams than there are NFL-caliber quarterbacks, there are more teams in the playoffs than there are playoff-caliber teams.

Agreed completely, but look for the league to try to expand the playoffs even further in the next few years.

Blogger Tank January 05, 2015 8:59 AM  

Did not see most of the game, but do have this nitpick:

it was a completely uncatchable ball. Stafford literally hit Hitchens in the back right in the numbers; there was absolutely no way the receiver had any sort of play on the ball.

How many times this year have we seen a receiver catch a ball by reaching over a defender's (who is not looking back) back? A thousand? Every game? He might have caught that ball.

Worst part: Watching my fat fuck of a Governor hugging Jerry Jones. God, I hate him and the Cowboys.

OpenID cailcorishev January 05, 2015 9:00 AM  

I actually thought the refereeing was pretty good this regular season. Putting together a squad of guys who hadn't worked together before looks like a bad idea, though.

Furthermore, there is no "face-guarding" rule in the NFL,

And yet they've been calling those plays as if there is for a decade or more, to the point where the experienced announcers take "he didn't get his head around" and "playing the man not the ball" for granted as justification and even the network's penalty expert is flabbergasted by the call.

If we're lucky, maybe this is a sign that we're hitting peak DPI, and they're going to start calling that more fairly. It's gotten old watching teams heave the ball up and hope that a defender will bump the guy and give them an easy 30+ yards.

I don't understand the "running into the kicker" penalty anymore either. I understand he's vulnerable with his leg up in the air. But how's a guy supposed to go for the ball that's on the end of his leg without touching him? Was there a flurry of punter injuries that had to be dealt with somehow?

Anonymous Daniel January 05, 2015 9:09 AM  

In a 4 division + 1 wild card scenario, Wild Card weekend would have consisted of the worst two games from this weekend, and Baltimore and Lions would have been out.

I'm good with that, because that would mean that next week, the games would be: Pats-Colts, Broncos-Steelers, Hawks-Panthers, Dallas-GB. i.e. what we have now in the NFC and a chance for the Steelers to prep with the last second loss of Le'Veon Bell.

The best scenario in the current Wild Card weekend is that it is irrelevant. The worst is that qb-lessness is rewarded.

Anonymous Anarchopurplism January 05, 2015 9:23 AM  

That was not pass interference. Joe Buck's constant reference to it was annoying.

Detroit got MORE than its "fair share" of benefits to bad calls. The running into the kicker was a little ticky-tack in the fact that the punishment did not fit the crime. However, football is a black & white refereed game.....although the punter acted a bit, it was a foul.

The non-calls that ticked me off the most was a 3rd down scramble by Stafford early in the game. I saw 1 blatant hold at the line of scrimmage & 1 block in the back after Stafford had broken a tackle (which was pretty impressive BTW). That key play kept the drive alive.

Detroit played typical Lion football. There was no killer instinct. Their defense set the table for an early kill as Romo was completely befuddled & Jason Garrett had the pink-slip look on his face. I didn't like the Caldwell hire & still don't.

Anonymous Daniel January 05, 2015 9:40 AM  

There was no killer instinct.

Definitely. As the game went on, Golden Tate and Megatron slowed down. Stafford slowed AND broke down. Caldwell hesitated.

It was as if they were hoping that the Cowboys were going to Cowboy. Without that flurry of penalties on the last Dallas TD drive, Cowboys might have Cowboyed. But Detroit played tired, sloppy, bad defense, and that was really enough.

Besides, Dan Bailey missing was just plain weird, and the punt penalty was an unusual error. Detroit had a lucky 1st half and zero TDs in the 2nd. Want to win the playoffs? 2nd Half TDs are fundamental. Only 3 points? You're dead.

Anonymous Will Best January 05, 2015 10:25 AM  

You are clearly mistaken about OPI. The receiver extended his arm in response to the defender grabbing his jersey. Defensive holding. 5 yards automatic first down.

Also the ball was catchable.


No one can know if Dallas would have capitalized (probably not since it was in the first half and they just weren't really together yet)

As noted during the game, it would have been declined because its not a 1st down penalty and they pinned Detroit inside the 20 on the punt. If they were to rekick with 5 extra yards they would have risked touchback. I suppose you could argue they should have had that option.

Vox is right in that nobody knows what the result would have been if the call had gone the other (correct) way. The Lions clearly were playing to not lose. I suspect its because they weren't used to playing with a lead.

Anonymous DavidK January 05, 2015 10:51 AM  

The better team won.

As a Lions fan and a Vox Popoli fan, I know better than to argue with Vox when he is right.

Blogger Buddy E. January 05, 2015 10:59 AM  

@Will Best yea, the rule states "Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch. "


The 'turning the head around' comment has jack shit to do with 'faceguarding' (which is not a penalty) and everything to do with 'Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball' (which clearly is a penalty).

It's pretty clear there was contact, and that contact impeded the receiver from making a play on the ball, AND the defender himself was not making a play on the ball.

Blogger Buddy E. January 05, 2015 11:03 AM  

That said, the lions had so many self inflicted injuries in this game that they have no reason to complain. One blown penalty doesn't determine the outcome of a game. The lions didn't play to win, and they lost.

Blogger Brad Andrews January 05, 2015 11:36 AM  

I always thought it ridiculous that a wide receiver could just stop in front of the defender when both were running and get the penalty. Seems a bit off there.

Blogger JaimeInTexas January 05, 2015 11:53 AM  

JJ Watt gets held and tackled all the time and no flags. In one game I saw, JJ was stolen a sack because he was. Whether that means winning or losing, I do not know but, when he is tackled outside the melee and no penalty, there is something wrong with the refereeing. From a non-FNL expert point of view, refereeing has not been good this year.

Anonymous WaterBoy January 05, 2015 12:00 PM  

Disappointed I am. For next year will I wait.

*sigh*

Again.

Anonymous Will Best January 05, 2015 12:10 PM  

I always thought it ridiculous that a wide receiver could just stop in front of the defender when both were running and get the penalty. Seems a bit off there.

The rules of football are set up so that you have to play the ball, and not the player. Which is why pick plays are also illegal

JJ Watt gets held and tackled all the time and no flags.

There is holding on nearly every play in the NFL. It is apparent if you attend a game and just watch the line for a few for a few series. It is almost always about whether or not the official sees it.

Blogger CarpeOro January 05, 2015 12:36 PM  

I had almost forgot about the game (only watched the last 5 minutes when the Lions gave away the game) because I had figured after the GB loss it was a forgone conclusion. The Lions with Stafford at the helm are what, 0 and 18 when playing winning franchises on the road? True, I had forgot about the Cowboy habit of Cowboying in the playoffs. I blame that on Romo being the best QB in the NFL the last couple weeks of regular play.

Also, Suh's viciousness after the play has ended is just plain wrong. I won't try to excuse it because there is no excuse. Stepping on Romo's leg for his last play in the game looked calculated to me - at the same time it was pointless.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 05, 2015 12:37 PM  

I agree this was the best game of the weekend.

I simply do not understand those fans who seem to enjoy a blizzard of yellow flags and seeing every third play called back.

I don't understand 49er fans either.

Was there a flurry of punter injuries that had to be dealt with somehow?

And if there was, who cares? Actually, I wonder if it wasn't to encourage more punt returns back in the day where the NFL wanted kick returns because they're exciting plays. Punters taking the time to boom kicks past their coverage generate more returns, but punters quickly pooching the ball away from the rusher make for kind of ugly plays.

OpenID cailcorishev January 05, 2015 12:53 PM  

Which is why pick plays are also illegal

That kinda became a joke this year, didn't it? It's illegal, but the announcers now routinely point out when they get away with it, which is nearly every passing play. The review of many TD passes comes down to, "TD catch by Smith; good illegal pick by Brown!"

I suppose the refs let most of them go because calling them all would turn into a joke. I'm not sure why it's illegal anyway, considering how pro-offense and pro-long-ball the league is. Why not let them set picks to free up routes? Do it like basketball: you can get in a guy's way, but you can't grab him or move with him to stay in his way.

Blogger JDC January 05, 2015 1:24 PM  

It absolutely was pass defensive pass interference, even the Dallas players are saying so. Hitchen's wasn't playing the ball, didn't look back, and grabs his right arm before the ball gets there. Pettigrew attempted to get to the ball, and still almost made the catch (for those who claim it was un-catchable). Add to that, Hitchen's actually grabs Pettigrew's jersey as he tried to get off the line of scrimmage, so at the very least it should have been defensive holding.

With that being said, that was not the reason the Lions lost. They lost because they abandoned what had been working all game, and allowed fear of losing to overcome the drive to win. As one commentator stated, "Don't blame the refs because the Lions hired Caldwell."

I also agree that the better team won. Finally, all of the commentators and writers who are in love with Tony Romo can celebrate with an umbrella drink and an intimate hot-tub party that Romo finally won a playoff game, confirming what they have been telling us all along that Romo is the greatest quarterback to ever live (with dreamy eyes). I hardly think winning one against the Lion's counts, but it's a first step.

Signed - A Lion's fan who knew this was going to happen, even when they were up by 13.

Blogger Leatherwing January 05, 2015 1:31 PM  

JDC,

I think you need to rewind a little farther. It didn't look like Hitchens was grabbing Pettigrew's arm, he was knocking it away from his face-mask.

Anonymous Peter Garstig January 05, 2015 1:43 PM  

Agreed completely, but look for the league to try to expand the playoffs even further in the next few years.

They extend to 18 games first.

after Stafford had broken a tackle (which was pretty impressive BTW).

Not impressive at all as this was a very bad tackle. Head on the outside and Stafford goes down easily.

"Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch. "

I note it doesn't say anything about 'looking at the ball'. One can make a play at the ball without looking.

Loss is on coaching . Played not to loose, like Childress and Frazier likes to do. The lack of Cojones of such high profile people always astonishes me. You have a very capable defense and don't go for it on foreign ground? Loss deserved.

OpenID cailcorishev January 05, 2015 1:57 PM  

Signed - A Lion's fan who knew this was going to happen, even when they were up by 13.

As a Chiefs fan who watched too many 13-3 teams falter in the playoffs by trying not to lose, I agree. Up 14-0, it still seemed like the Cowboys had the advantage, and I don't mean the referees. The Lions just never acted confident.

In the regular season, getting up 14-0 and having a known strong defense might be all it takes to get the other team thinking about next week. In the playoffs, they won't do that, so you need the killer instinct to keep piling on the points as best you can.

Anonymous physics geek January 05, 2015 2:18 PM  

The Cowboys almost gave the game away with what, if the Lions had scored late to win, would have been the single worst play of the season. Recap:

Dallas had scored to take its first lead of the game. Detroit with the ball, Stafford drops back to pass, gets hit and fumbles the ball. A Dallas player recovers the fumble. Game over, right? Nope. Dumbass picks the ball up and crashes into a pile of bodies, the ball comes loose and Detroit recovers. It's now first down, Detroit, because of change of possession. At that point, I remembered that play off game a few years back, when New England went into #1 seed San Diego's stadium to play. SD up by 7, New England with the ball, and Brady throws an interception. THE GAME IS OVER!! Except that it wasn't. Dumbass player who intercepted the ball tried to to return it, rather than falling to the ground, and one of the NE wide receivers (Troy something or other?) smartly knocked it out of his hand and recovered it. New England then drove for the tying score and won in overtime.Probably the stupidest play I saw that year and it cost San Diego's its best chance to win a Superbowl during the Rivers era.

I have friends who hate the Cowboys, but genuinely like Tony Romo. While they wanted Dallas to lose yesterday, they were glad to see Romo finally start to get some well deserved respect. Now it's on to Green Bay.

Oh, and I hope like hell that Vox is wrong about his Superbowl pick. As a Miami fan, I cannot stomach another picture of Brady hoisting the Lombardi trophy.

Anonymous physics geek January 05, 2015 2:20 PM  

Romo finally won a playoff game,

Um, he already had one playoff victory over the Eagles a few years back. But his second one was a long time coming.

Blogger AdognamedOp January 05, 2015 2:36 PM  

That redo was the most blatant example of corruption ever. Its clear the refs were trying to help Dallas win. They even gave Dallas two first downs on petty holding calls on that winning score drive.
And it would have been stupid for Detroit to go for it on 4th and 1 with 8 minutes left. Their defense was playing good up to that point. How could they know the punter would shank the kick?

The fix was in. NFL is corrupt. Its not a conspiracy when its so blatantly obvious.

Blogger JDC January 05, 2015 2:47 PM  

Um, he already had one playoff victory over the Eagles a few years back. But his second one was a long time coming.

Correct you are sir.

Blogger bob k. mando January 05, 2015 2:54 PM  

pfffft. the Iggles.

that's like a Bye week.

Blogger Leatherwing January 05, 2015 2:55 PM  

Its clear the refs were trying to help Dallas win. They even gave Dallas two first downs on petty holding calls on that winning score drive.
If they wanted Dallas to win, I don't think they would have reversed 2 Dallas TDs, one of which was on a very questionable holding call (the one against Witten).

Anonymous GreyS January 05, 2015 3:23 PM  

Well said, VD. I'm not a Dallas fan, but the anti-Cowboy sentiment all over the internet (esp Twitter) over that call and about that game was ridiculous. A lot of the consternation about Dallas is really just stuff about Jerry. I personally was bagging on Jerry and Dallas all offseason and figured them to be in the 4 to 6 win range with Garret finally getting fired and Jerry maybe looking in the mirror and questioning his GM abilities. Linehan as OC has made all the difference and the roster is a lot better than many gave them credit for. The better team won.

The better team didn't win in Carolina. Arizona easily could have won home field all the way through the Super Bowl-- that stadium is nearly as loud as Seattle and almost as hard to win at-- but you can't win with your third or fourth string QB and backup RB. Carolina is okay but Cam Newton is terrible. Hard to see them scoring in Seattle let alone winning.

oh btw-- Not hearing much "SEC! SEC!" cheering after that overrated bunch got run over against other top conferences this bowl season.

Blogger Josh January 05, 2015 3:59 PM  

Btw y'all:

Cardinals-Panthers averaged 21.678 million viewers on ESPN yesterday. Rose Bowl had 28.164 million viewers; Sugar Bowl had 28.271 million.

Anonymous Will Best January 05, 2015 4:55 PM  

Cardinals-Panthers averaged 21.678 million viewers on ESPN yesterday. Rose Bowl had 28.164 million viewers; Sugar Bowl had 28.271 million.

When they expand the college playoffs to 8 teams the quarter finals won't clear 20 million.

Blogger Brad Andrews January 05, 2015 5:00 PM  

That pass was only catchable if the defender wasn't there at all. It bounced off his back far too quickly for any rational likelihood of catching it.

Blogger Hank Brown January 05, 2015 6:02 PM  

I'll never forgive Denny Green for making the most prolific offense in the game take a knee to end regulation on first and goal in the 97 NFC Championship. The loss got blamed on the kicker (who was perfect all season up to that point) so the abysmal play calling never stood scrutiny.

I'll also never forgive Brett Favre for playing like a 42 year old rookie in his last NFC Championship. It's always something with Minnesota.

Blogger Bard January 05, 2015 8:05 PM  

That was a good game.

Anonymous Action Bronson January 05, 2015 10:13 PM  

"As for the decision not to flag Dez Bryant for coming onto the field without his helmet in protest of the call, I think it was a correct no-call. We want to see the refs let minor things go in the playoffs,"

"and no one wants to see a playoff game settled by an off-the-field foul by an excited player in an overheated moment that harmed no one."

Yeah, lets forego the rulebook for the playoffs, because emotion. Pretty SJW of you.

Anonymous Hoss January 05, 2015 11:32 PM  

"Dean Blandino, the vice president for officiating for the N.F.L., said Monday that the Cowboys should have been penalized at a key point in the fourth quarter: Blandino told NBC Sports Radio’s Pro Football Talk that pass interference, which according to the N.F.L. rule book occurs when a defender is not playing the ball and “restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch,” was questionable on the play. “ He went on to say that the Cowboys should have been penalized for defensive holding earlier on the same play as Hitchens held Pettigrew's jersey.

I thought it should have been a penalty. When they hell has anyone on this site ever seen a defender not playing the ball like this ever get by without a penalty. Never. Not that it matters because I don't think either team has/had a chance of beating the Packers.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 05, 2015 11:45 PM  

Yeah, lets forego the rulebook for the playoffs, because emotion. Pretty SJW of you.

Action Bronson must be a 49er fan.

I really don't understand the people who want the game decided by an idiot in a striped shirt (and no, I don't mean Rothlesberger on Steelers Throwback Uniform night).

Anonymous Action Bronson January 05, 2015 11:52 PM  

Of course it was a penalty. Every sport pundit agrees it was. Some of them try and excuse it by claiming Detroit had opportunities to win it after the fact. Which makes no sense as the no call took away their chance to put the game away.
Faggot Cowboys fans are blaming haters,while fake pundits are saying we should overlook the cheating refs actions as human error or some other nonsense.
The game died a little more Yesterday.

Anonymous Action Bronson January 06, 2015 12:03 AM  

I just dont think skewing the rules is going to make things any more fair Jack.
If anything it will lead to the same type of corruption we saw at play yesterday. Where discretion is left to the officials.

No Niners fan here, though I own a dope Jerry Rice 75th anniv. Jersey.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 06, 2015 12:21 AM  

I just dont think skewing the rules is going to make things any more fair Jack.

Certainly it doesn't help anyone for the league to have these stupid rules that impact the game for non-game related activity. Issue a huge fine to Bryant, sure, but award yardage because he threw a hissy fit (really, because he didn't respect the refs ah-thor-a-tay)? Idiotic.

The average NFL game has too many penalties. It feature too many minutes of the refs explaining the call, or debating the call, or waiting for the replay booth to make the call... The very idea that someone would want the outcome of any game - let alone a playoff game - decided by a penalty assesed against an emotional outbust against the refs previous call is just... not consistent with a competitive personality.

Not to get too SMV here, but complaining that the "authorities" didn't hand out the candy fair enough is decidedly un-Alpha. We shouldn't be encouraging kids who follow sports to think that way.

Anonymous Action Bronson January 06, 2015 1:19 AM  

Of course there are too many penalties. Its all by design.
Corruption has eaten away at every Western institution, including the NFL.
Talking about easing rules misses the bigger picture.
Applying classical sportmanship ideals to a modern day, corrupt system doesnt work.
The fate of the pissed off athelete running onto the field from the sidelines will be decided by the guy given leeway with the rules.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 06, 2015 1:49 AM  

Of course there are too many penalties. Its all by design.

And we discuss poor designs and how to fix them as a way of sharpening our ciritical thinking skills.

Anonymous Cowboy fan January 06, 2015 2:16 AM  

I think Vox and a few other commenters said it all -- the Lions flat out lost this game after blowing a 20-7 halftime lead, bad call or not.

It was not offensive PI -- Pettigrew face guarding vs Hitchens or not -- neither was it defensive PI. Had it been a hold as the NFL refereeing chief said on Monday in CYA mode, as a non-blue koolaid drinking Cowboys fan (the running joke on Blogging the Boys when fans were predicting 10-6 or better this year BTW as most of us foresaw another 8-8 disappointment and Jason Garrett being let go), I wouldn't have objected. Provided the same increased scrutiny to jersey grabs had been enforced on the following drive -- the key thing being that the officials are at least consistent on DPI, without giving 'mercy calls'. As it seemed in real life when the officials seemed to pay more attention to Lions DBs holding after the Cowboys 5"8 slot receiver Cole Beasley nearly got his head knocked off (sorry guys refs are human beings and if you take a cheap shot at a guy like that, at least according to today's kinder gentler rules to keep receivers out of hospitals, you're probably going to get subsequent calls against you too).

Seems to me the refs just let the DBs play Seahawks 2013-14 style in the first half (one catch for Dez, really? The Lions corners are that awesome?) and then tightened up a bit in the second half. Some Detroit fans and Cowboy haters may find that unfair, but I would respond this way:

Would (B)SPN and the sports radio yammerers still be talking about this call if it had gone against Detroit in favor of:

A) Denver Broncos
B) Indianapolis Colts
C) Green Bay Packers
D) Tom Terrific and the Patriots (ok maybe they'd still be yapping if it had been the Pats)

Only the love em' or hate em' but always highly rated em' aspect of the Cowboys fan base and overall hype machine around them is why anyone besides Detroit fans still cares about this. And as other commenters said, Dan "most accurate FG kicker in NFL history" Bailey shanks an easy 41 yarder after Romo inexplicably hangs on to the ball for way too long on too consecutive sacks when Linehan gave him no Murray or Dunbar checkdown option (the offensive wrinkle along w/3 WR sets that allowed the final successful Dallas drives after the Lions hapless LBers were left trying to hold Dunbar or cover Beasley/Witten/Dez crossing routes) The Lions shanked a punt after foregoing an easy 4th and 1 65 to 70% conversion on a Reggie Bush toss or short pass -- pretty much any play but a QB sneak, dive or draw would've worked for Caldwell. So the Lions lost and deserved to lose -- the better TEAM but not the better defense won.

Anonymous Cowboys fan January 06, 2015 2:28 AM  

BTW I agree with Jaime the Texans fan that when you have a player as badass and dominant as JJ Watt a lot of times holding doesn't get called. Can't after all let Watt get to 23 sacks, can they?

Demarcus Ware in his prime from 2006 to 2009 would routinely jump the snap count and be in the QB's face in under 3 seconds and get called for offsides. Sometimes he actually was offsides, but it always bothered me offsides was a non-reviewable call. I still recall DWare actually getting tackled from behind by the legs by Redskins OT Trent Williams and getting no call as he flailed his arms for one. I think the QB was Rex Grossman that game, it was pre-RGBadKnee.

Guys a hell of a lot of calls go against Dallas and did for years after we went from being a dumb penalty prone team (Romo having a tendency to read the D until the half second mark for the snap which led to snaps over his head with Grurode) to an NFL average or even above average in avoiding penalties team in the JG era. I'm also sure that the Oakland Raiders continue to get called more than they probably deserve due to their old reputation while certain teams (Patriots, Steelers cough cough) get called significantly less than they should. Maybe Detroit gets no breaks because they don't have much of a fan base, sorry guys but Suh had no business being allowed to play after his repeat offending and cheap shot at Rodgers. So I don't feel sorry for the Lions. They got many lucky breaks and a light officiating on their DBs downfield contact in the first half and still blew a 13 point lead. Nobody felt sorry for Cowboys fans when our sucky defense would routinely blow huge leads by putting pressure on Romo to keep throwing TDs rather than hand it off to a clock-chewing run game after he'd pile up a 21 point halftime lead on Detroit or Green Bay in years past. In Linehan we finally found a coordinator to somewhat protect Romo from his "my D is going to give up a TD drive to Eli freaking the not good 59% career completion percentage Manning in a minute if I don't get 7 here" old self. Of course guys like Romo and Witten are by now grizzled veterans who have also got sick and damn tired of falling short constantly and the choker label.

In the post game presser Romo talked about what he learned from the absolute beat down Vox's Brett Favre led Vikings gave us in 2009-2010. That was a somewhat mentally weak Wade Phillips team with over the hill vets up front along the o-line and they almost got Romo killed as the Vikes pass rush simply made our front 5 look old and fat in that game while our D couldn't defend Sidney Rice to save their lives.

So all of you Cowboy haters -- we've had so much failure and inexplicable losses in the past few years that I don't owe ya'll any apology for the ball bouncing our way a few times this year.

Anonymous Cowboys fan January 06, 2015 2:35 AM  

As for Golden Tate losing, couldn't have happened to a bigger punk (still bitter about his cheap shot blindside hit on Sean Lee at Seattle a few years ago).

People really need to get beyond casual fandom and look at the stats. They will find Dallas tends to get a lot of DPI and has for years. Yes our corners besides Scandrick aren't very good and our safeties often are out of position, but let's get real -- it's not like Dallas is getting all of these rigged calls. Go ask a Seahawks fan about the 2006-2007 Super Bowl against Pittsburgh (which was somewhat balanced out by the football gods with the refs letting their outstanding DBs get away with a lot in the 2013 Super Bowl run) if you want to see the refs favoring a 'dynasty' team with all the calls against an up and comer with a smaller fan base.

Anonymous Cowboys fan January 06, 2015 2:43 AM  

"after Stafford had broken a tackle (which was pretty impressive BTW).

Not impressive at all as this was a very bad tackle. Head on the outside and Stafford goes down easily.

I noticed that too, I was getting pissed during the first half as Stafford inexplicably showed off tremendous mobility I never saw against the Packers or another team with better pass rushers. I've never seen a D that got more pressures that failed to turn into sacks or where the QB got the ball out or sidestepped the defensive lineman than this year's Cowboys. Seriously if we get one more decent strong DE in this draft and guys like Crawford continue to develop with a better, faster corner than the overpaid Carr we should be top 10 in sacks next year.

Does anybody here BTW recall that Terance Newman and Adam Jones both looked completely done in Dallas and enjoyed a nice late career renaissance in Cincinnati when they suddenly had a good pass rush in front of them?

Anonymous Jack Amok January 06, 2015 3:16 AM  

I think Danny Kelly said it best on SBNation - that sort of play gets called DPI a lot, and it's let go alot. The crappy thing about a rule that generates a lot of controversial calls (or non-calls) is that it degrades otherwise great games. The Dallas-Detroit game was easily the best of Wild Card Weekend, but everybody is talking about the refs.

And frankly, at this point one of the rarest plays in the NFL is an incomplete pass that doesn't have a receiver motioning for the refs to throw a flag. About the only play that is more rare is a kick return without an illegal block penalty.

Meh. I'm glad Dallas won. Romo deserves it if nothing else. Assuming we don't have some collossal meltdown against Carolina, I'd love to see the Cowboys back in the Clink for a rematch with the NFC on the line.

OpenID cailcorishev January 06, 2015 8:52 AM  

Throwing the flag was ok (and consistent with the way they've called DPI for many years). Not throwing the flag would have been okay. Throwing the flag, huddling up, and then picking up the flag and explaining why would have been okay -- a little sloppy, but understandable with a crew that hadn't worked together.

Throwing the flag, huddling up and deciding it's a penalty, announcing the penalty, and then dropping it without explanation after an offensive player runs up (committing an uncalled foul himself) and pleads a case -- that's just asking for charges of shenanigans.

And frankly, at this point one of the rarest plays in the NFL is an incomplete pass that doesn't have a receiver motioning for the refs to throw a flag.

Agreed. I'd like to see a personal foul for that, like there is (occasionally) for flopping in hockey or arguing balls and strikes in baseball.

Anonymous Jack Amok January 06, 2015 11:56 AM  

Throwing the flag, huddling up and deciding it's a penalty, announcing the penalty, and then dropping it without explanation after an offensive player runs up (committing an uncalled foul himself) and pleads a case -- that's just asking for charges of shenanigans.

Yeah, that was terrible. Way back when I went to Ref School, they stressed that you need to be decisive. You won't always make the right call, and even when you do there will be people who think you're wrong, but you have to make a decision and go forward with it. Get the attention back on the game as quickly as you can.

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