Judgements VII: Why do we need replay as an officiating tool? Ask the Titans
Maybe now we can agree on a couple of things – namely, that while too many games this season are over officiated we need replay as an officiating tool.
Rewind the videotape to the last minute of Sunday's Chargers-Titans game, and you'll see why.
Twice in the last 40 seconds officials ruled the Chargers – who were down 23-20 -- scored go-ahead touchdowns, and twice they were wrong. We know because replay proved they were wrong.
The first review showed that L.A. running back Austin Ekeler was inches short of the goal line when he caught a 16-yard pass from Philip Rivers. The second showed that running back Melvin Gordon was inches shy again when stonewalled on a dive off right tackle.
But that’s not all. In fact, it’s not even the exclamation point.
Nope, that happened on the third consecutive snap when Gordon tried running off right tackle again, was stopped and seemed to lose the football. Tennessee claimed Gordon fumbled and lost possession. Officials weren’t sure. Nor were they certain there was a clear-cut recovery.
And that's where replay decided this game.
Because nothing and nobody were sure what happened until replays were consulted. And then ... and only then ... was it was apparent.
Gordon had fumbled, Tennessee recovered and the Chargers had lost.
Without replay, L.A. would have scored a last-minute victory, and Tennessee would have suffered a last-minute heartbreak. But who’s crying now? Not the NFL. Because as much as we complain about replay and officials and the calls they make and the calls they miss, we now know why replay is necessary to the game.
And why it’s never going away.
SUNDAY SCHOOL: FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED
1. I don’t care what Atlanta owner Arthur Blank says. Dan Quinn can’t last the season.
2. Maybe Matt LaFleur is the best thing to happen to Aaron Rodgers after all.
3. With Patrick Mahomes sidelined, the biggest threat to Kansas City in the AFC West is … Kansas City. Nobody else has a winning record, with the rest of the division a combined 7-13.
4. Sorry, Damarious Randall, but the Baltimore Ravens – not your Browns -- are the team to beat in the AFC North, and the reason isn’t their defense. It’s their offense. Specifically, it's quarterback Lamar Jackson, who ran over, under, around and through Seattle for 116 yards -- his third 100-yard rushing game this season and second in as many weeks. Jackson is the NFL’s sixth-leading rusher and an early MVP contender. So, remind me: Who had him pegged as a wide receiver prior to the 2018 draft?
5. Philadelphia's Doug Pederson is no Nostradamus. Can't wait to hear how he's "gonna beat" Buffalo next week.
1. Maybe “the plan” in New Orleans is to play Drew Brees vs. Arizona next week, but “the plan” should change. Stay with Teddy Bridgewater, guys, at least until the Nov 3 bye. The guy’s 5-0, including road wins in Seattle, Jacksonville and Chicago.
2. Nobody talks much about the Indianapolis defense … but they should. It hasn’t allowed a point in the last two minutes of any game and on Sunday frazzled Houston’s Deshaun Watson, sacking him three times and intercepting him twice – including the game-clincher in the last minute.
3. The Buffalo Bills have a better record (5-1) than Kansas City (5-2). Honest.
4. Someone explain to me why Arizona’s Chandler Jones isn’t in a Defensive-Player-of-the-Year conversation. The guy has 8-1/2 sacks (including a career-best 4 Sunday), 4 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries. In other words, he’s been a game changer for a Cardinals’ team that’s on a three-game roll. Then there’s this: Since the Cards acquired him prior to the 2016, Jones has 49-1/2 sacks, more than anyone in the league.
5. Stick a fork in the Chargers. They’ve dropped three straight to A) a winless team quarterbacked by Joe Flacco, B) a one-win opponent with a third-string quarterback/part-time duck caller and c) a backup quarterback who wasn’t good enough for Miami. Now they have, one home game (not including Mexico City) before Dec. 15 -- one -- and fork, please. The Bolts are toast.
6. Since that stink bomb in Chicago on Sept. 29, Kirk Cousins has completed 76 percent of his passes for 976 yards, with 10 touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 142.6. Oh, yeah, he’s also 3-0.
7. Indianapolis coach Frank Reich is right when he says quarterback Jacoby Brissett is “The Man.” The Colts were supposed to collapse without Andrew Luck, but they haven’t. They’re in first place in the AFC South.
8. For Halloween, the Giants’ Daniel Jones will go as a piñata. Just wear your Giants’ jersey, Dan, and let the sacks begin.
9. Memo to the Raiders’ Derek Carr: Bulk up on your muscle memory. Carr should know better than to reach for the end zone with the football in an outstretched hand. He tried it two years ago with the same result -- fumbling through the end zone in a last-minute loss to Dallas. It was a crusher then, and it was a crusher Sunday.
10. So that's what Dallas looks like healthy. If Philadelphia's the next best thing in the NFC East ... and it is ... the division belongs to the Cowboys.
11. It’s not just the league’s second-ranked defense that makes San Francisco playoff worthy. It's road record. The 49ers are 4-0 there, outscoring opponents 101-41 – including 29-7 the past two weeks. Now they have four of their next five at home.
12. Chicago coach Matt Nagy has some explaining to do. He had his Bears run seven times and quarterback Mitch Trubisky – who hadn’t played in three weeks -- try to throw 56 passes (54 attempts, two sacks). Sorry, but that makes no sense. When Nagy tells players to "have the earmuffs on and the blinders," you gotta wonder if he's talking about his game plans.
13. The Saints are the best team in the NFC because they’re the most balanced ... and let us count the ways. They put up 35 points Sunday without Alvin Kamara and Drew Brees, yet held the Bears to no offensive touchdowns until late in the fourth quarter. Unusual? Nope. The Saints allowed just two offensive TDs the past two weeks – both on the road – and are a real Super Bowl threat, with or without Brees. Make Sean Payton the early frontrunner for Coach of the Year.
14. Upset of the week: The minute Patrick Mahomes was injured, nobody started banging the drum for Colin Kaepernick.
15. Someone give me the name of Jalen Ramsey’s chiropractor. Astounding how quickly he recovered from his back injury.
16. Memo to the Saints’ Eli Apple: Never “belittle” an opponent … if you know what I mean. Karma doesn’t’ forget or forgive.
17. Imagine how tough the Bills would be if Josh Allen could hit a deep ball.
18. Just one question for Bengals’ fans: Paper or plastic?
19. Jacksonville’s Nick Foles could return to practice this week. So when does he return to the lineup? If I were Doug Marrone, I’d be patient. The Jags have found something ... and something special ... in Gardner Minshew.
20. Say what you will about Jimmy Garoppolo, but the guy’s 14-2 as a starter.
MY TOP FIVE
1.New England … It’s all about “pliability."
2.New Orleans … Drew Brees, sit still.
3.San Francisco … Four of their next five games are home.
4.Green Bay … Aaron Rodgers is happy, and the Pack is back.
5.Buffalo … Only thing better than the wings at “Duff’s” is the Buffalo D.
MY BOTTOM FIVE
1.Al Riveron … Time to launch an impeachment inquiry.
2.Miami … Tanks for the memories, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
3.Cincinnati … Someone get A.J. Green a Get-Out-of-Jail card.
4.Washington … There goes Bill Callahan’s Coach-of-the-Year award.
5.Atlanta … The Nov. 3 bye takes on new meaning for Dan Quinn.
STAT THAT MAY INTEREST ONLY ME
Atlanta has no sacks since Sept. 22, a streak that spans four games and 16 quarters. The Falcons have an NFL-low five for the season.
AND ONE THAT MAY INTEREST YOU
The 49ers have allowed 98 pass yards in their last two games combined. That's the franchise's fewest in a two-game span in the Super Bowl era since Weeks 8-9 (62) in 1977.
SUNDAY’S GOLD JACKET
GREEN BAY QB AARON RODGERS. He throws for five TDs, runs for a sixth, completes 81 percent of his passes, averages nearly 14 yards per attempt and produces his first-ever perfect passer rating (158.3). In short, he was exceptional. There is nothing this guy can’t do … other, that is, than make a State Farm commercial worth watching.
SUNDAY'S GOLD JACKET QUOTE
“We have yet to see the best of Lamar Jackson.” – Baltimore cornerback Marcus Peters.
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