Now I'm not here to criticize the refs, but merely to offer my explanations of what happened today in our game. We had several bizarre calls that were just a little out of the ordinary. In addition we had quite a few no calls that altered the flow of the game. I feel like analyzing a few of the more important ones in my new (possibly recurring) segment, Mechem's Review of the Refs.
The Phantom First Down:
The first play we will look at is likely the most talked about one. Browns fans (an endangered species) will likely be freaking out over this one.
For those who dont know the TV showed a close 4th and 1 Big Ben Sneak. And the Chain Gang showed up and pulled the stick out, and it fell just past the ball, by no more than an inch or two. Only to subsequently signal first down Steelers. Seems like a Madden game error, but perhaps it was something else.
What we see here is a football about to be measured by a talented NFL professional who likes his job and makes a fine salary doing it.
This picture is the only one I could get online that shows a hash mark, which I feel is the key component here. Observe the angle. The camera here is clearly not centered. Lets take it to photoshop and whip out some math!
Observe the drawn lines of math. The baseline follows the flat edge of the hash, which of course should be parallel with the ball. The grey vertical line is for a 90 degree reference. The second black line follows the side of the hash. Measuring with the fancy tool in PS (tool usage visible here), declares the difference to be about 32 degrees.
Where does that put mister cameraman? Lets find out shall we:
We were at the Cleveland 14. Using the ol' Pythagorean theorem, we can get an idea. We know the field is 160 feet wide, and the ball was roughly in the middle. That means, more or less 80 feet from the sidelines. Therefore (i wont breakdown the math but you can check it if you must) assuming that 32 degree angle measure is accurate and that hash mark was painted correctly, that gives us a 50 foot distance to the right of where the line was.
This means the camera guy was standing likely about 15 yards back when he takes this shot. Fifteen yards is a big difference when measuring an inch.
And certainly the ref, standing RIGHT OVER the ball, could see what was going on. Lets toss away our conspiracy theories. Just because Ben goes to WWE doesnt mean the game is rigged. Chalk this one up to a bad camera angle and lets move on to a subsequent play.
The Ward INC TD ruling:
This play comes just 2 plays after Ben's unstoppable sneak. Ben hits Ward over the left side of the EZ. Ward clearly secures the ball right away. He lands with both legs inbounds, and hits the ground with his body, and rolls over. As he's rolling like a barrel in Donkey Kong, he goes OOB and loses the ball off his leg. It also hit the ground.
The key behind this call is the rule that says one must maintain control "through the entire play." This rule is very relevant in cases such as Santonio's GWTD in SB43. When a player just gets his toes down, the play is not over. He has to land with the ball. But, when a player catches the ball in the EZ, and goes to the ground in the EZ, the play should be over. His rolling on his body OOB should not matter, nor should him losing the ball well after doing so.
I believe in this case the Ref is extending the above rule to more plays than it was designed for. Its a good rule, just not in this application.
Sorry for the lack of photo here, the internet recaps all decided to skip over all that last 4 minutes of the 2Q.
The Mendenhall Strip:
Since my viewing partner was kinda fuming over this one I felt like including it. Mendy goes down, falls on a pile of bodies like its Call of Duty, and somebody more or less waltzes over and strips the ball.
I feel like, in this one, Mendenhall was sliding forward slightly for a while. I prefer a ref crew NOT to blow the whistle early. It was a close one, but to me I think they erred on the right side of letting the play run a bit. Irregardless, its Rashard's job not to let some jag off just take the ball like candy from an infant.
Good call. Again, couldnt find pix.
Our Weekly Horribly Held Harrison:
I dont like to bring this up all the time. But on this particular play, it was quite noticeable. The Browns were called for a whopping one penalty, which was a hold. And the refs were particularly light in the penalty calling which I loved.
This one I bring up because, not only was it the most blatant, but it was costly. This play would lead to a TD later. Cleveland's only offensive production of the game not named Joshua Cribbs.
Crappy picture I know. Observe the meast on the right edge. In this shot, just before the camera moves away, the guy is yanking him by the shoulder, FROM BEHIND.
I cant find a shot of it, but if you watched the CBS feed, you could see right after, the lineman got a 2nd hand on his shoulder, and dragged him to the floor. If that isn't holding I dont know what is.
Runner up for Hold of the Week goes to the great jerk off of Stefan Logan which DID result in a TD. Logan, the fastest player on ST, was reduced to molasses by having his jersey pulled at like it was a hooker's top in Vegas.
Ryan Clarks spotting on his INT:
This one is tough for me to call. And while it didnt impact the game much, it put us in a possibly compromising situation. Clark clearly caught the ball, and landed right about the 2 yard line. But, sliding backwards from momentum, skidded into the EZ. He at that point brushed the legs of the defender, and was ruled down at the 2.
I personally think that it should have been a touchback assuming the following is true:
1. The ball was in the EZ when he was downed.
2. He was not downed until getting into the EZ with the ball.
Lets pretend, for a minute, that the Browns player was nowhere near Clark when he landed. Since he had not gone OOB, he could have simply gotten up from inside the EZ, and started to go outwards to get yardage.
But in this case, he was not touched until getting into the EZ, which last I checked is a touchback.
If this is how they call it, you could catch a ball at the 40, in bad weather, slide backwards all the way to the EZ like you are on a slip n' slide, and then get downed and given the ball at the 40. Which, to me, doesnt make a lot of sense. I understand that forward progress may play a part in the ruling, but to me if you have to be spotted where you are downed.
Still, not a BIG deal, but I felt like bringing it up.
Well personally thats all I felt it necessary to comment on. So hopefully you enjoyed my Ref review.
Honestly I think they called a pretty square game overall. I didn't love some of the calls but there weren't too many straightforward ones either, they were all kinda sketchy.
Hopefully MP gets on NFL network this week and explains a few of them.