The Pittsburgh Steelers have remained one of the top-five most talked about franchises in the NFL during the conference championship week, themselves being the only one of those five not actually participating in any of those games. I would say for better or for worse, but we know which one of those two it is.
As I’m sure many of you did yesterday, I watched the conference championships, and my viewing of each I found to be quite frustrating. Two things in particular that I don’t care for regarding the way that the NFL runs things ended up playing major roles in how each game unfolded, so I thought I would take this time to air my grievances.
I’m going to avoid the discussion about how ‘good teams overcome officiating’ and that generally speaking no one moment can be singularly blamed for the ultimate outcome. If you want to delve into those waters, do so, but at least for this round I will not partake. These are two of the worst things the NFL continues to do with respect to the rules right now that needs to change, from my perspective:
- Make Penalties (And Other Plays) Reviewable
A penalty has just as much of an opportunity to impact a game as any other play, and we have seen that happen in a number of games this season, including those in which the Steelers played. Yesterday, it played a major role in deciding the outcome of a conference championship.
You already know what I’ll be referencing hear, the late no-call on a defensive pass interference penalty. The offending player was given the opportunity to review the player the game and admitted, “I whacked his ass”. The league will be publicly acknowledging the mistake sometimes soon.
Had the officials properly officiated the play, the New Orleans Saints almost surely would have won the game. It would have given them a first down with goal to go, in a tie game with under two minutes to play.
At a bare minimum, they would have been able to kill off most of the clock and left the Los Angeles Rams with just seconds to respond. Or they could have scored a touchdown. Of course we know what ended up happening instead.
- Allow Both Teams To Have A Possession In Overtime No Matter What
The league knows that people were never thrilled with the idea of a team getting the ball and kicking a field goal on the opening drive to end the game in overtime without the other team even getting a chance to touch the ball.
So they changed it. You can’t kick a field goal on the opening drive to win the game. But you can still score a touchdown and walk off. Which really isn’t much different and doesn’t address the primary concern, which is that both teams should have an opportunity to score, given that possession is assigned by random chance. And unlike in regulation, it doesn’t even out at halftime.
That was especially ugly in last night’s game, as we were robbed of the opportunity of seeing if Patrick Mahomes, who threw 50 touchdown passes and over 5000 yards in the regular season, could match a Tom Brady touchdown drive.
As far as I’m concerned, both of these things should be changed immediately to make the game better. This is far from a comprehensive list. Just my two biggest grievances that detracted from my appreciation of a good game of football.