Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Real Packers-Cardinals Controversy

NFL officiating czar Mike Periera appeared on NFL Network Tuesday night. It's a weekly bit they do where Periera addresses some of the weekend's more controversial calls.

He spent time Tuesday talking about the final play of the Packers-Cardinals game from Sunday. On that play, there was some crowing that quarterback Aaron Rodgers got hit in the facemask by defensive back Michael Allen, who jarred the ball free for Karlos Dansby to recover and take to the house for the game-winning score.

Reality is that the officials called the play correctly. The contact with Rodgers' facemask was incidental, and it had no impact on his ability to secure the ball. It was coming out no matter where Allen's hand ended up.

The Packers -- to their credit -- handled it well, blaming themselves for, you know, sucking on defense and not showing up on offense until the second quarter.

Fans are fans. No surprise they didn't take it well.

What's surprising about this whole thing is that Periera ignored two more obvious calls in that game.

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald was clearly guilty of pass interference on his second score, one where he went out of his way to run over Packers cornerback Charles Woodson.

Even more egregious was the non-call that came just two plays before Rodgers' fumble. Take a look.

Apparently, referee Scott Green was too busy doing something else, and he missed what has been the referee's primary responsibility all season: protect the quarterback.

Why did Pereira choose to ignore this bad call?

Who knows? Maybe he's got short-timer syndrome, as he's retiring. Perhaps he is tired of admitting on live national television that his guys screwed up a huge call.

Either way, had the Packers played half as well in the first half as they did in the second, it would never have come down to these calls. For once, I fully agree with the attitude of Mike McCarthy on the issue. He knows that talking about officiating sends a message that you're making excuses.

In my view, there's nothing wrong with addressing these controversial calls, but you have to recognize that they happen, they suck, and they usually even out over the course of a four-month season.

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