Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Friday, September 08, 2006

After further review, I still hate it

Philosophically, I like the idea of instant replay. If a referee misses something on the field, why not take advantage of the available technology to make sure the correct call is made? After last season, however, I became increasingly convinced that it doesn't work well enough - either in the NFL or college football. I realize it's expecting too much for a system to be perfect, and what's in place now might be better than nothing. But if instant replay can't truly serve its purpose, then I'd just as soon see it ditched altogether.

To me, the latest glaring example of the system's flaws took place in last night's Dolphins-Steelers game. The outcome turned on an 87-yard touchdown catch-and-run from Charlie Batch (who looks much better with some hair on his head, by the way) to tight end Heath Miller. However, television replays clearly showed that Miller stepped out of bounds just past the 2-yard line. The touchdown should not have counted. And with instant replay, the correct call would be made, right?

Well, no. The play was never officially reviewed because the referees didn't see Dolphins coach Nick Saban throw his red challenge flag onto the field. And once the ball was snapped for Pittsburgh's extra point, it was too late to go back and look at the tape.

Doesn't that seem ludicrous to you? The Dolphins quite possibly lost that game because the officials didn't see Saban toss his little red flag.

Of course, you could fault Saban for his tentative, seemingly embarrassed attempt at issuing a replay challenge. Maybe it was chaos inside his headphones with various coaches arguing as to whether or not the play should be disputed. And given the point of the game, perhaps there was greater concern over losing a time-out. If the referees are to be believed, they tried to give Saban as much time as they could to decide.

Judging from his body language, it almost looked as if Saban didn't quite believe the Dolphins had a case, and finally just thought, "Oh, okay - I guess I might as well give it a try." But c'mon, even Marty Mornhinweg used to throw that challenge flag with more authority! Saban should've run right up to an official to make his case - or better yet, run onto the field. You think Bill Cowher would've just let a play like that slide? He might've tackled an official, if it meant getting a review before the next snap!

If the challenge wasn't a moot point once the extra point was kicked, it certainly became one after Joey Porter returned an interception 42 yards for a touchdown to seal the game. (Nice kiss, by the way.)

So maybe the system works, and it just didn't appear to because of Saban's hesitance. But I'm certainly not convinced. Too many reviews were botched during last year's pro and college post-seasons. And after seeing what happened last night, I'm extremely wary of the instant replays to come.

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