The Houston Texans scored a touchdown on the Detroit Lions today that completely baffles me. Never mind the fact that the referees often seem to be watching a different game than everybody else. Sure, we have the benefit of instant replay, but so do the refs. That is why the rules for review have got to be changed.
Anyways, the runner was clearly down, but got up and ran into the endzone for a phantom touchdown; but wait... the officials did not see fit to blow the whistle, and because Jim Schwartz forgot a technicality and threw his challenge flag, the customary review was denied and the TD counted!
I also like to site the AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts following the 2006 season. New England had the lead but the Colts were driving. On second down, Peyton Manning throws a high ball into the endzone, where Ellis Hobbs jumps and blocks the pass in front of Reggie Wayne. Everybody in the world knows that there is no penalty in the NFL for face-guarding, yet the referee apparently created it out of thin air just for this occasion. An incompletion probably stalls the Colts' drive and the Patriots end up going to the Super Bowl instead.
It is plays like these that drive me, a sports fanatic, crazy! No technicality or botched call should decide any game, but especially one of such great importance. With so many games decided by less than a touchdown, it makes a big difference.
Message to Roger Goodell: let's stop deciding football games by accident. There is a better way.
1. Train the referees to keep the whistle and the flag out of the game unless absolutely necessary. By this I mean: err on the side of caution, even doubt.
2. Penalties greater than 10 yards and pass interference should be reviewable up to 3 per game per team.
3. Eliminate exceptions to rules (such as noted above regarding automatic reviews) and encourage an increase in the interaction (positively) between coaches and referees.
4. Add referees to watch interior linemen and the location of their hands during blocking. There are tons of blocking fouls not being called, including many-hands-to-the-face violations.
5. Institute an incentive package for referees to encourage better attention to good calls versus bad calls. Include the current review of performance protocol with specific attention on legitimacy and consistency league-wide as a basis for bonuses versus base pay.
This is just off the top of my head. The goal is to leave the outcome of the games to the execution on the field and to minimize human error as a deciding factor. None of us is perfect. But all of us love this game of football.