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Officials pass on interference calls


The most disputed and controversial call in professional football is pass interference, probably because it's the determination by officials that can most drastically alter the complexion of game. After all, it's the only penalty that technically can award a team 99 yards.

What also irks many players, coaches and fans is the inconsistency of pass interference calls. It can be so arbitrary that in one game a blatant pass interference will go unpenalized while in another game, an official will call it if a defender barely brushes a wide receiver. That's better known as phantom pass interference.

Across the league on Sunday, pass interference calls appeared on the rise. The league has taken steps to make the game more offense-friendly, so defensive backs know the challenges they face, especially when they have to play against marquee quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Then there was the uneven officiating in Sunday night's Steelers-Ravens game in which Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor at first seemed to have immunity from pass interference when covering Derrick Mason.

The most glaring example came early in the fourth quarter, when Mason was trying to run under a pass in the end zone. The pass went over Mason's head, but replays showed Taylor grabbing Mason's arm and preventing him from making a play on the ball. Officials did not call a penalty.

But late in the game, officials flagged Taylor for illegal contact and pass interference on the same play. In this instance, Taylor bumped Mason more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage before using his arm to impede Mason's path to the ball on a sideline pattern.

If officials want to call a tight game when it comes to pass interference, that's fine. If they want to let the players bump and push a bit more than the rules perhaps allow, that's great too.

Most of us can settle for either, just as long as there's consistency so players on both teams know how much they can get away with and adjust their play accordingly.

By Gene Wang  |  November 30, 2009; 3:03 AM ET  | Category:  Refs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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This post is a slight of hand trick. Look over here everyone at the phantom pass interference call against New Orleans. You fail to address the lack of call when a New Orleans player clearly dives at Jason Campbell's knees, a new rule, called the Tom Brady rule which is selectively enforced. Reporters asked him about it after the game, game announcers noticed it as well, fox showed it. Instead, holding was called on the Redskins. The new rule only gets called when it's Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning. Maybe it's the Tom Brady ONLY rule. Inconsistent application of the rules, the fact that the replay booth and the-on-field-under-the-hood-review-screen used by officials are connected via radio to the league office DURING THE GAME!(head of officiating) leaves room for plenty of conspiracy talk. At what point during those lengthy reviews of searching the rule book for a certain outcome, is the official on the field marginalized and the league office in control? Additionally, with so much money being gambled on each game, and with so much at stake in terms of storylines (desire for unbeaten match-ups to drive TV ratings) etc. do we suspect that there is a desire to mold the outcomes of the game? Motive exists for owners and league executives who run for profit businesses, motive exists for players, especially underpaid kickers, etc. and motive exists for gmabling controllers who can see $80M to $120 in wagering per week. With motive and money comes the desire for control.

Posted by: DownTownClown | December 9, 2009 8:49 AM

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