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No touching in football?

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One of the worst calls of the season came in Sunday's Dolphins-Titans game, and it had a direct impact on the outcome of a matchup with significant playoff implications.

The game had gone into overtime, and Miami quarterback Chad Henne dropped back to pass on third down and six from his 27-yard line. His pass was poorly thrown, and safety Michael Griffin secured the easy interception and returned it three yards to the Miami 42, where he dropped to the ground and covered the ball.

That's when Dolphins wide receiver Greg Camarillo dove at Griffin and touched him down. Camarillo didn't go for the head or even hit Griffin hard. He simply patted Griffin with both hands to make sure he stayed on the ground to end the play.

Officials flagged Camarillo for unnecessary roughness because Griffin was presumed to have been down at the time he voluntarily went to the turf. That penalty set up the Titans at the Miami 27, and four plays later, Rob Bironas made a 46-yard field goal for a 27-24 victory.

The penalty was ridiculous, plain and simple. Honestly, the NFL has become so protective of players that you sometimes wonder why they bother to wear pads in the first place.

Perhaps by the strictest interpretation of the rules, Griffin was in fact down. You could argue Griffin falling to the turf was the same act as a quarterback sliding to give himself up or kneeling to end a game.

Even so, Camarillo barely touched Griffin, and he certainly did not do so with malicious intent. The fact that officials called a penalty in no way falls in line with the spirit of the rule, and if anything, Camarillo made the smart play.

What if Griffin had decided to get up and run after he went down? He certainly would have been allowed, since to that point, no Dolphins player had touched him down.

The penalty was a clear case of over-officiating and basically gave the Titans three points, since Bironas is one of the most dependable place kickers in the league.

Tennessee may have won, but the officials deserve a game ball from the Titans as much as any player or coach in the organization after that debacle.

By Gene Wang  |  December 21, 2009; 4:54 PM ET  | Category:  Refs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Put a skirt on them!

Posted by: bs2004 | December 22, 2009 1:13 PM

Well anyone that saw the pummeling of Jason Campbell by the Giants defense on Monday night couldn't argue that at least SOME quarterbacks needed the pads.

Posted by: leips | December 23, 2009 7:08 PM

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