The Super Bowl Is Set, Bears Connections, OT Madness, Officiating Under Fire, and Other Bullets
The matchup for Super Bowl LIII is set between a team the Bears defeated (Los Angeles Rams) and one that came one yard short of an opportunity to tie, take to overtime, and possibly beat (New England Patriots). And in the most pure NFL fashion, this showdown came together in the most controversial ways possible.
In case you missed it: The Bears’ road to Super Bowl LIV will feature a pit stop in London:
Not a player, but what Harry Hiestand did with the Bears’ offensive line this year was truly magical.
The other international games have been announced, too:
I’m no fancy, big-city schedule maker, but a Bears-Rams showdown in London would have probably a lot more appetizing than one between the Bengals and Rams. But maybe that’s just me.
As for things happening stateside yesterday, a terrible miss of a pass interference penalty in the Saints-Rams game is one of two major talking points in the football world today:
That’s as blatant as it gets, folks. Even Nickell Robey-Coleman, the player who got away with the call says he got away with one. “Oh, hell yeah. That was P.I.,” Robey-Coleman said, via the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore. Robey-Coleman got there before the ball did and he whacked the heck out of Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis in what should have been a pass interference (or a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver) that would have set up a most-likely scenario where the Saints to run out the clock before it was time to kick a game-winning field goal.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweets that the league acknowledged the missed call, so at least they have that going for them. Unfortunately, the league has yet to make a public reference to its officials blunder. Not a great look for the league.
This *IS* something worth keeping in mind:
Oh, and let’s not forget Sean Payton has been angling for pass interference to be reviewed since at least 2016.
For the record, this didn’t happen and isn’t real. But it is funny:
And if you really want to drive home the dagger, Roger Goodell could change things if he so chooses:
… But I can’t see that happening.
So if the Saints score on the first possession of overtime, are we still talking about the pass interference non-call? Yes, because the human brain allows for multiple discussions to occur at the same time. It’s not that difficult.
Oh hey, that game-winning 57-yard kick by Greg Zuerlein was a pretty big deal, too:
The other NFL rule that is coming with heated debate is the overtime possession rule after the Patriots win against the Chiefs. In a tightly contested game that featured a rousing comeback led by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the fact that Mahomes didn’t get a chance to touch the ball in the extra session isn’t sitting right with many fans, analysts, or observers. And rightly so. From a pure entertainment perspective, anyone who didn’t want to see Mahomes back out there is either 1) lying to themselves 2) a Patriots fan or 3) someone who doesn’t enjoy competitive, high-stakes football played by the best quarterback to ever do it and one who certainly looks like he’s ready to take that torch whenever it’s ready to be passed down.
Mahomes was a magician last night. He overcame being shut out in the first half to orchestrated an all-time great AFC Championship Game performance. Bummer of an ending, though.
To be clear, the Chiefs had multiple opportunities where they had the Patriots in 3rd-and-long to get a stop, get off the field, or force a field goal try. And for further clarification purposes, no one is saying one call or rule changed the game’s outcome, but the rules (or in one game’s case, the lack of enforcement of one) tilt the stages. Based on the win probabilities associated with having a potential 1st-and-goal situation at that point in the game or having the ball first in overtime, yeah, game rules matter.
Well, actually … yes:
My not-so-crazy idea for NFL OT: Put forth a full 10-minute quarter of action. Whoever has the most points at the end wins. In the event of a tie, we play another 10-minute period. Maybe a rule tweak there would force teams to go for two. There are so many options, 99 percent of which are better than the one currently in place. For once, let’s not let stubbornness prevent improvement.
Both teams get at bats in the World Series. A jump ball decides who gets first possession in overtime in the NBA Finals. And even in the NHL’s Stanley Cup Final where a game ends with a sudden death goal, a puck-drop determines who gets possession. The NFL’s coin flip for overtime is antiquated. Let the athletes decide the outcomes. And if you don’t want to do the XFL’s pre-game ball-scrum, that’s fine. The least you can do as a league is allow for the game to play out without possession being decided by chance and a coin flip.
Tony Romo can get to scream-y sometimes, but his ability to read defenses in real-time and call plays is uncanny and an absolute joy to watch:
I can’t stop watching this:
Julian Edelman’s muffed punt that preceded this was overturned, but at least we got that highlight out of it.
This is just too weird:
I know a team that was competitive in 2018 that could use help in its secondary: