One of the driving forces in re-introducing instant replay to the NFL was the 1995 AFC Championship Game, won by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but appearing for a split second as though the Indianapolis Colts had won on a last-second Hail Mary by Jim Harbaugh. The spectre of the wrong team being sent to the Super Bowl was enough to move the NFL to reintroduce the assurances of the electronic eye. Fast forward to the final Sunday of the 2013 NFL season, and this time, the wrong team[i] has [/i]been sent to the playoffs, ostensibly because the instant replay system that's in place wasn't activated. In a day and age where the slightest movement of a ball in a receiver's hands, whether a knee or elbow touched the ground prior to a ball becoming dislodged, or whether a player touched the ground with his big toe prior to tumbling across the sideline brings an inordinate amount of scrutiny, replayed ad nauseum, the failure of the instant replay system to be called upon last Sunday in San Diego, with the playoff fate of two teams in the balance, is indefensible, inexcuseable, and frankly, suspicious. Adding to the nefarious nature of this episode has been the relative silence of the media that reports on the NFL's every move. Why, just a few short weeks ago, when Head Coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers stepped briefly onto the field of play, possibly interfering with a kick return from the Baltimore Ravens Jacoby Jones, in a game won by the Ravens, the examination and debate was incessant. Was it accidental on Tomlin's part? Was it intentional? What should be the penalty? Was Tomlin appropriately contrite and apologetic, or was he smug and defiant? Would the Ravens playoff hopes somehow be impacted by a reduction of four points in the Divisional total? All of the conversation on the GTTE (Great Tomlin Toe Episode) was never-ending. Last Sunday though, the NFL issued a statement citing the error of Side Judge Keith Parham in not throwing a flag when the Chargers were in violation of the rule preventing a team from overloading when defending a field goal attempt. That simply counting on his fingers and throwing the flag if the count exceeded [i]Eenie Meenie Miney Moe, Eenie Meenie[/i] is part of the Side Judge's mechanics, his checklist as it were, was acknowledged by the NFL, but no worries, Side Judge Parham may be prevented from collecting his erstwhile season-ending bonus, that being the officiating of a playoff game, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, deprived of a legitimate playoff berth would reciever, the "[i]Oh....sorry, hope you understand[/i]" Holiday greeting from Roger Goodell's minions. Had the penalty been called, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop would have had another opportunity to send one through the uprights, this time from only 36 yards away, and send the Steelers to the playoffs. But what about the play in overtime that ended with the Chiefs in the San Diego endzone, in possession of the football, otherwise known as a touchdown, a play that would have won the game for the Chiefs, and again, sent the Steelers to the playoffs? Where is the analysis, the outcry, the gnashing of teeth over this abomination of justice? We saw a bit from[i] Pro Football Talk[/i], from[i] Arrowhead Pride[/i], a Chiefs site, and from some Steelers sites. Former NFL Officiating Czar Mike Perriera weighed in, citing his opinion that the play should have been called [i]Touchdown Chiefs[/i]. One would think that Perriera should know. But what of the usual collection of scribes and talking heads? They've repeated the official NFL offering on the field goal attempt, but precious little on the debacle of the fake punt. While I'm not generally a conspiracy theorist, consider the various elements, both on the field and in the subsequent reporting: *The kickoff to start overtime was a touchback, ball readied for play on the 20, meaning that San Diego needed to reach the 30 for a first down. Thus, the Head Linesman, John McGrath really doesn't need to mark the ball where he might have thought that forward progress had legitimately ceased. He knows, undoubtedly, where San Diego must reach for the all-important first down. And I'll be damned, that's where he sits his foot, right on the 30-yard line, not an inch further. *For those fortunate enough to see NFL Officiating Guru Dean Blandino on his Tuesday night segment, you saw half of his piece devoted to the blown call on the field goal, whereupon the fake punt was analyzed. What you saw though, was something that was previously seen on this segment, that being the NFL stooge, Blandino, telling us what happened, telling us what the screen behind him was showing us...but....the screen behind him in actuality showing us something completely different. The screen behind Blandino in two separate shots showed us: -Blandino pointing out the Head Linesman marking the spot. Small problem is that as this is happening, #32 from Kansas City (Cyrus Gray) is running the other way with the ball. -Blandino ceding that the play would have, in "retrospect" best subject to a replay review, but emphasizing that the call would not have been changed, as the screen is showing that the San Diego runner, Eric Weddle (ironically, #32 for his team) had made "the line of gain" (and where have we come up with this terminology?). Small problem, in this instance, is that the screen behind Blandino is showing that at that juncture, Weddle is on the 29-yard line side of the 30, as is the Chiefs defender that's hitting him. Sure, while Blandino says that the play should have been reviewed, he offers no explanation is to why it wasn't. For those of you not fortunate enought to have seen [i]Official Review [/i]segment, good luck seeing it, because it's nowhere to be bound on the NFL's official website. The initial 2+ minutes of Blandino's appearance, limited to the field goal episode is up for viewing, but the remainder of the segment isn't there. It's on my DVR at home, should anyone want to travel to New Hampshire in sub-zero temps to see it. Don't ask me to post it; I'm the ultimate techno-dummy and am fortunate simply to have it on tape. The cover-up gets worse. The officiating blunders weren't done for the day with the fake punt imbroglio. Surely, you remember the final Kansas City possession. They move down the field, eventually facing 2nd & 10 from the San Diego 42. There's a pass downfield and while the ball's in the air, there's contact with the receiver in the vicinity of the San Diego 17. Flags fly. Interference, right? Guess again. Even though the ball was in the air when contact was made, ther ruling is illegal contact. Kansas City has a first down on the San Diego 37 instead of the 17. Can't remember that one? No problem, game was on NFL Replay on Tuesday night. Maybe you recorded that, so you can go back and look. Sorry, that play was excluded. It's Chiefs ball 2nd & 10 at the 42. Next think you know, it's Chiefs ball 1st & 10 at the 37, with the viewer left guessing how the Chiefs got from Point A to Point B. So, in sum, we have the NFL admitting that a Side Judge didn't carry out an assignment which should be absolutely routine for them, counting the overload on a field goal attempt. You then, have the officiating crew negating the Chiefs winning touchdown, saying that forward progress had stopped, even though no whistle had blown, even though if forward progress had stopped momentarily, it had clearly stopped short of the 30-yard line, even though once the ball moved from behind the 30 to beyond the 30 there was no stoppage of forward movement, none whatsoever, though the stripping of the ball and return for a touchdown by Kansas City. You have the Head Linesman the marking the ball just touching the 30-yard line, the point at which he knew San Diego had to advance to retain possession. Lest you be wandering the fate of Head Linesman John McGrath, not to worry; he'll be on the field in Cincinnati this weekend, plying his trade as a Head Linesman. I bet the Chargers are applauding that one. So yes, I'm suggesting that this bumbling crew of incompetent zebras, headed by their lead incompetent, Bill Leavy, knew that if Kansas City's stripping of the ball and return for a touchodown stood, that the game was over. They also knew that if their placement of the ball was anywhere short of the 30-yard line, that Kansas City would take possession and likely win the game. So, they ruled that San Diego had reached the 30-yard line, whereupon forward progress had supposedly stopped, signaled first down San Diego, readied the ball for play, and let the Chargers have at it, negating a replay review in a scenario that cried out for delibaration and review. The whole thing stinks!! And for those of you suggesting that the Steelers put themselves in this positon by opening the season 0-4, then dropping two big games consecutively, please!! All that's true. But it doesn't mean that we should accept officiating, accept a result that's clearly incompetent, fraudulent and suspicious and then accept silence on the matter by the NFL and by those that make a living covering this circus. The wrong team is in the NFL playoffs, sent there illegitimately. Where's the Outrage??