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Why the replacement refs made the right call in the Packers-Seahawks game

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First off, here are the two best angles of the play

Here is the sequence of events

1. Jennings intercepts the pass midflight, but initially lands on ONE foot. This is quite easy to see in the first GIF. His other leg basically goes down with the rest of his body.

2. Tate puts his hands on the ball before Jennings’ 2nd foot goes down. It’s pretty clear in the 2nd GIF that Tate at least has simultaneous possession at some point and by the lateness of Jennings’ 2nd foot hitting the ground in the 1st GIF, it’s fairly clear this is before Jennings other foot goes down.

3. Both players hit the ground. Tate is below Jennings so if anything he hits before Jennings’ other foot does.

4. Jennings wrestles the ball away from Tate again. This is IRRELEVANT, because the play is already dead as soon as the players hit the ground. It’s the same situation as a fumble getting called off because a player was down first in a normal mid-field situation. Furthermore, the rule is that if Tate has simultaneous possession at any point before the play ending (which happens when Jennings and Tate hit the ground), then it’s a touchdown regardless of whether he loses the ball after. Any offensive possession in the endzone, even if simultaneous, even if for a split second, is a touchdown.

When Jennings has “sole” possession of the ball, it’s only one 1 foot. To have real control of the ball his other foot would’ve had to come down. Put it this way, Jennings dropped the ball after he initially caught it and before Tate put his hands on it, the play would’ve been ruled an incomplete pass and not a fumble, because before his other foot came down he didn’t have control of it. If one accepts that call is an incomplete pass if he drops it, you have to accept he didn’t have possession of it before Tate put his hands on it.

The only way it’d be an interception is if Jennings had sole possession of the ball when his 2nd foot hit the ground. While I wouldn’t completely rule this out based on the evidence, if I had to call it from those 2 GIFs, I would without question give my vote to Tate having two hands on the ball before Jennings’ 2nd foot hit the ground. At the very least, it’s a close enough call that it’s defend-able the referees ruled Tate had his hands on it. And possession can’t be overturned on a review, the call on the field had to stand.

Ironically considering how bad they’ve been, the replacement referees made the right call in this game and Seattle deserved to beat Green Bay.

By Julien Rodger

Twitter: @ASFW_jrodger

Email: julienrodger@gmail (Throw me a question, I’ll get around to a weekly/monthly mailbag if I get enough)

Written by jr.

September 24, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Posted in Football

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USC, BCS & the Meaning of a Trophy

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After Reggie Bush got his Heisman stripped, and USC got punished by NCAA, the BCS finally joined the party stripping USC of their 2004 BCS National Title. This sound like a really big deal. After all, it is the national title that all of these college football teams are playing for, right?

And yet, taking away the BCS trophy doesn’t change who won the championship game. Doesn’t change the fact that the runner up got completely embarrassed and proved to all they had no business even being in the game. Doesn’t change the money that USC made along the way, doesn’t change the exposure that USC players got and other players didn’t get. Doesn’t really have any impact on anything going forward for USC.

Of course that doesn’t mean there was something wrong with the BCS making this call. It’s what is within their power to change. Everyone else has stripped USC of what they could, why shouldn’t the BCS do the same.

However, I think it’s worth taking a moment to realize how little these official crowns mean. We all know who the best team was, and what they did wrong. It’s up to each of us decide how to weight those two facts when evaluating what was accomplished.

But let’s apply it one step further. In 2003 USC did not win the BCS Championship, and so didn’t lose it this past week. They did however win the championship as crowned by the AP Poll, the most respected college football poll there is. Those who were paying attention back then that USC didn’t just top the AP Poll but the Coaches Poll as well before the Bowls, meaning that among the human voters determining BCS Championship participants, USC was the clear choice. USC didn’t play in that game because of the series of deeply flawed computer polls that the BCS has insisted on using (and abusing through reactionary demands) through the years.

So USC is in a unique position already. With it being the only team that humans agreed was the best team in the nation to not get to play in the BCS Championship, USC supporters are already well aware of how meaningless the BCS Championship Trophy is. For those keeping score at home, this means that the BCS has now chosen twice to exclude the best team in the country from being its Champion, and both of those teams were from USC. Can you imagine how little this current decision means to USC supporters then?

As I’ve said, the BCS has a right to do what it wants in response to ethical violations. Practically though, I question how wise it is to further make clear that BCS Champion does not necessarily mean “best team”.

Clay Matthews and the deep end of the talent pool

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Linebacker/defensive end Clay Matthews III, wa...

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Clay Matthews is a star

Clay Matthews is on top of the world. This last regular season in the NFL he emerged as a defensive juggernaut and came within two votes of winning the Defensive Player of the Year award. Come playoff time, he then led the Green Bay Packer defense to a Super Bowl ring. If the NFL had a defensive award for the entire season, Matthews would probably get the nod as the best defensive player in the league this season.

Clay Matthews has only played 2 years in the NFL. He’s about as much of an immediate star in the league as you’ll see. Consider for example, that we haven’t had an NFL DPOY with 2 or less years of experience since Lawrence Taylor almost 30 years ago. While Matthews certainly has great instincts as a football player, he doesn’t get where he is right now without freakish physical talent. A quarterback can get away without being able to move that well, a linebacker cannot. And so clearly, while spotting which players will emerge as DPOY is a bit tougher, Matthews clearly has the physical tools that should make him pretty easy for scouts to identify. And of course, the man did get drafted in the 1st round of the NFL draft, so nothing to out of the ordinary there.

Clay Matthews was never a “future star”

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8 Thoughts from Super Bowl XLV

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1. Obviously, as I wrote before, I love what the Packers represent, so I’m quite happy with how this turned out.

2. This game clearly was a good of a case that you’ll ever see that turnovers are really, really important in football. And yet, the 3-0 advantage of the Packers here is clearly mostly luck. The Steelers and Packers had two of the top 4 turnover differentials in the league this year, and the larger of those two numbers was the Steelers’ +17, which puts them just slightly above +1 per game. The Packers, 4th in the league with a +0.625 TO edge per game, about quintupled their normal edge in this game, despite going up against an elite defensive team.

Bottom line, take the turnovers out of the game, the Steelers almost certainly win. And if you play this game in a series, I see no reason to assume that the Packers would generally have the turnover edge. Very, very lucky Packers indeed.

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Why I Love Sports: Green Bay Packers

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Green Bay Packers helmet

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Watching the Green Bay Packers play the Chicago Bears Sunday was about as good as it gets for me as a sports fan. Great game, but really great franchises, and of course the right winner. As we get ready for the Super Bowl, I want to take a moment to write a love letter to what is to me the most compelling sports franchise in American history.

I want to make clear from the start: The Packers are not MY team. I’m from California, and though I do have some family in Wisconsin, the San Diego Chargers are my team…I just wish I could say all this about them.

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American Playoff Systems: Closure or Chaos?

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Created by Jason R Remy (Jayron32)

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Last week we saw the two #1 seeds in NFL lose in their first (and thus only) playoff game of the season.  Just a few weeks ago I wrote a post talking about just how good one of them, the New England Patriots, was compared with history.  Am I shocked they lost?  Not really given what I know about the NFL playoffs – it’s not uncommon for favorites to lose in the playoffs.

This event though has made a few people start thinking about the system we have and its pros and cons.  Joe Posnanski over at SI writes a great thought provoking article on the matter, its implications to the BCS, and on what playoffs mean in general.  In one line he asks:  “Is a playoff really MORE FAIR? What does fair even mean?”

Fairness in Competition = Removing Bias while Minimizing Randomness

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Reflecting on Cam Newton; Remembering Barry Sanders

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As you might imagine with my insistence on talking about Player of the Year instead of MVP when looking at the NBA, I don’t like to take stock on what athletes accomplish until season’s end.  So I held off really evaluating Cam Newton‘s accomplishments until after the National Championship.  That game came and went, and I started putting Newton up against the guy who I consider college football’s gold standard in recent years, Vince Young.

Cam Newton vs Vince Young

Briefly, Newton’s got the bigger stats over all, but part of that is simply a decision by Auburn to focus more around Newton than Texas did with Young.  This increased focus around one running quarterback is part of a general trend, and why I’ve previously said it’s unreasonable to expect a typical star running back to match the impact of someone like Newton.  If you go back and look at the numbers for the Tommie Fraziers and Michael Vicks of the world, it’s amusing to look at how small they are compared to the Newtons, Youngs, and Tim Tebows.

Auburn was more reliant on Newton than Texas on Young, but Texas’ dominance was significantly greater.  Auburn was really quite lucky to go undefeated, Texas was not.  Given that, and Young’s two amazing bowl performances, I still lean toward Young as the more accomplished college player.

What these comparisons really got me thinking about though was Barry Sanders at Oklahoma State.  Hopefully those who saw my previous rant about the relative impotence of running backs in college football knew that Sanders is in his own category.  Still, the more I think about Sanders, the more his superiority over EVERYONE, quarterbacks included, is glaring.

Barry Sanders, Greatest of All Time Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matt Johnson

January 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm