You thought dogfighting was a black eye for the NFL? Just wait until the latest scandal picks up steam; one that actually affected real humans, and real money. Roger Goodell is going to regret his bloodless coup that deposed Generalissimo Tagliabue.
I am, of course, talking about that abortion of an ending to yesterday’s Pittsburgh-San Diego game. On the last play, the Chargers lateraled the ball twice, fumbled, and Steelers safety Troy Polamalu scooped it up and rumbled to a touchdown to make the score 17-10, which would have covered the spread in some degenerate version of a Christmas miracle.
But wait! After a booth review, the officials cited a phantom forward pass, called the play dead, and ended the game at 11-10. Unsurprisingly, conspiracy theories are flying. (Video after the jump. “Back, and to the left.”)
Clearly all legitimate laterals, and an awful, terrible call. But so what? The Steelers still won, didn’t they? You’re forgetting why the NFL is so popular, why millions of people tune in to watch games not featuring their favorite teams.
An estimated $100 million was wagered on this game, the majority of it on Pittsburgh. With the line at anywhere between 2.5 and 5, that’s a $64 million swing in favor of the bookies. I think that’s quite enough to start questioning this call, especially when the refs admit they got it wrong, but refuse to change the outcome.
“We should have let the play go through in the end, yes,” [referee Scott] Green said. “It was misinterpreted that instead of killing the play, we should have let the play go through.”
Green said the confusion occurred because there was a misunderstanding about which lateral was in question.
“The first pass was the one that was illegal, but it only kills the play if it hits the ground,” Green said. “That was incorrect to have killed it at that point. The ruling should have let the play go on. That’s just the way that it played out. We believe the second pass was legal.”
It’s not too late! Have everyone go back right now, and kick the extra point! (I’m going to have my thumbs broken for writing this, aren’t I?
Maybe this has a more benign explanation: that the league is trying to punish the Steelers, especially Polamalu, for being so vocal in their criticism of the league this year. Mike Tomlin, what do you think?
“No, I have never seen a game ended with 13-to-1 in penalties, but I am not answering questions about the officiating,” Tomlin said.
Actually, Mike, it was 13-2. The second one was the “illegal forward pass.” I’m going to go throw up now.