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Caught at the Pass (Interference)

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Missed pass interference calls plagued two of the marquee match-ups on Sunday, and although they didn't have a direct bearing on the outcome, you still have to wonder about how some officials interpret the rule as the games become significantly more important each week.

In the Dallas-Pittsburgh game, Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward appeared nonplussed when a defender clearly made contact with him on a pattern in the flat that prevented him from making a play on the ball. Later in the game, Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens was trying to get open near the end zone, but cornerback Ike Taylor was grabbing and pulling his jersey. Owens looked around after the play as if hoping for a flag, but officials didn't oblige.

In the Washington-Baltimore game, Ravens wide receiver Mark Clayton was running a deep pattern over the middle when Carlos Rogers shoved him with his forearm. It wasn't much of a push, but enough to send Clayton tumbling and prohibit him from getting near the pass. Presumably officials figured the contact was incidental.

Pass interference is perhaps the NFL's most debated call, especially in recent seasons when the league has become more passing oriented. Those calls become magnified late in the regular season and in January, when an official's judgment could essentially determine the outcome of a playoff game.

Who can forget the questionable call against Dallas defensive back Benny Barnes early in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XIII. Barnes was covering Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann, and the players' feet got tangled. The back judge closest to the play didn't throw a flag, but the field judge did, penalizing Barnes for tripping. The penalty moved the ball to the Dallas 23, and the Steelers scored a few plays later to go up 28-17.
Stay tuned to see if a similar call affects the outcome in this season's playoffs or Super Bowl.

By Gene Wang  |  December 8, 2008; 10:46 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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