For Week 15, Marshall Faulk wants to know:
Tis the season: Reach out and give a warm compliment to this week’s opponent. But keep it Professional Grade. This is your chance to tell the other team "I like the way your face looks…when you throw an interception." Or maybe "Thanks for making us feel right at home…in the end zones." Let’s see what you’ve got. Be creative.
Here it goes:
"Dear Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts: You're always quite impressive moving the ball down the field....on the backs of NFL officials who are willing to flag (or not flag) ANYTHING to help your team win each week."
The most recent example was last week against the Browns in Cleveland: With 2:12 remaining in the game, the Browns were up 24-19 over the Colts. From his own 40-yard line, Luck threw incomplete to the deep middle for TE Dwayne Allen, and the refs flagged CB Buster Skrine for pass interference. This gave the Colts a 1st down at the Browns 25-yard line. The ball was poorly thrown and the announcers questioned if it was even catchable by Allen. Nonetheless, the flag came out and the Colts moved into striking distance. A few plays later Luck would hit none other than T.Y. Hilton in the end zone for a touchdown to cement the come-from-behind victory.
This was one of several examples throughout the game where the calls, and non-calls, fell in favor of Indy. What a shocker, right?
Midway through the fourth quarter, they were driving after a Jim Leonhard interception, but settled for a field goal after Darius Butler broke up a third-down pass intended for Andrew Hawkins. The diminutive receiver thought he was grabbed before he had a chance to make a play on the ball.
The non-call was consistent with others on a day officials allowed defensive backs to aggressively challenge receivers for passes. On the game's final drive, however, Skrine was nailed for a 35-yard interference penalty while defending tight end Dwayne Allen that placed the ball at the Browns' 25 with 2:06 remaining.
"That's the game, that's how they call it now," Skrine said. "It's not a defensive game, it's an offensive game. ... I thought it was an offensive call. I don't feel I PI'ed him, but they gave him the call."
Earlier in the game, there was a questionable roughing-the-passer penalty cited against the Browns.
Paul Kruger delivered a high, hard hit to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck early in the third quarter Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.
But after the sack, the only one holding his head was the Browns' outside linebacker in disbelief as officials flagged him for a roughing-the-passer penalty.
Instead of fourth down and a Colts punt, it was first down en route to a field goal that fueled the visitors' comeback from a 14-point deficit. It proved to be one of three critical second-half calls or non-calls that went against the Browns in a 25-24 setback to the Colts.
The Kruger hit came on a third-and-10 from the Browns' 47 just minutes after they had taken a 21-7 lead. Officials are trained to protect quarterbacks, especially on high hits close to the head or neck.
"Maybe it appeared I hit him with my head, but I didn't feel anything," Kruger said. "I used my hands. ... I'll have to go back and see. I tried to use all hands."
Asked about the call, coach Mike Pettine made his opinion known – even without giving one.
"I had a great view of it, then over and over again on the replay I saw it," he said. "I'm not going to judge whether calls are good. My kids will be mad at me if I'm having money deducted out of my paycheck for criticizing officiating. I'll leave it at that."
On the Colts' ensuing possession, Browns safety Donte Whitner eased up when having a chance to flatten Luck, perhaps fearing a similar penalty. The quarterback found T.Y. Hilton for a 42-yard TD on the play, cutting the Browns' lead to 21-16.
NFL officials are human and will make honest mistakes; we get that. However, there is a very large body of evidence stacking up to provide more than enough ammunition to question the neutrality of officiating week in and week out. The preferential treatment toward some players and teams is polarizing, and it is giving coaches, players, media members and fans enough justification to question whether the world's largest revenue-generating professional sport is truly free of corruption with respect to how officiating is affecting the outcomes of games.
One way to offset this would be to allow the head coach the ability to challenge ANY play for review to determine a proper application of a penalty called or not called. Why does the league feel only certain plays are reviewable when any given play, or penalty or uncalled penalty, can decide the outcome? The NFL has been trying to improve play reviews, even including the league office to assist the officials in-game. Let's hope they evolve further to do more to improve the veracity of the sport we love to watch.
With respect to the Colts, it isn't their fault that they benefit from what appears to be unbalanced favoritism by the officials in so many games. I'm sure Texans' fans wouldn't complain if Houston were in the same scenario. So while I took the opportunity to give them a poke in the ribs with this topic for fun, I am also very serious about my concerns with how the NFL needs avoid looking rigged.
Let's hear your best backhanded compliment for our division opponent. Please remember that the site rules still apply to this invitation of asteistic exchanges with Indy.
asteism (plural asteisms)
So keep it classy and witty, but let it sting of truth. Fire away!
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