"All game they didn't make plays. One drive they did.''
-- Baltimore middle linebacker Ray Lewis, on the Steelers' 13-play, 92-yard drive in the fourth quarter for the only touchdown in Pittsburgh's 13-9 win over the Ravens -- the first Steelers win in Baltimore in six years.
First, allow me to congratulate Pittsburgh for their win last night. Ray said it best. Pittsburgh made plays when it counted, and they deserved the win. Now, did they deserve to win in the fashion that they did?
The following quotes are from Peter King's Monday Morning QB:
The most controversial play since ... well, since the Tuck Rule. Last night at NBC, we watched the same four replays Walt Coleman saw at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore in the final minute of the Steelers-Ravens game. You've seen it by now: With the ball at the Baltimore four-yard line and the Ravens up 9-6, Ben Roethlisburger scrambled and eventually found Santonio Holmes just over the goal line in the end zone. Holmes caught the pass very close to the goal line, with the ball appearing to be outside the goal line at first look and his feet to be in the end zone. The head lineman, Paul Weidner, standing at the goal line on the far sideline, peered around a player as he tried to see the play, and he ruled the ball did not touch the plane of the goal line. All the ball has to in this case is touch the imaginary plane of the goal line while the player has two feet down. It was agonizingly close, but Weidner ruled the ball should be placed at about the three-inch line.
The key to this play is that the ball was RULED short of the end zone. Everyone knows the "inconclusive evidence" rule in regards to replays. The problem is that not many people (watching the same replays as Walt Coleman) saw it.
When we first saw the replay at NBC on one huge, high-def monitor, it appeared to back the call on the field of no touchdown, or make the call inconclusive. But it became like a Where's Waldo thing. The longer you looked at it, the more you could convince yourself the ball, solidly in Holmes' grasp, did pierce the imaginary plane by a matter of inches. But indisputable? By 10:30 p.m., I bet I'd seen it 25 times. And it was the classic kind of play that, if the linesman had called it a touchdown, I don't think Coleman could have overturned it, and if the linesman had ruled it short, I don't think Coleman could have overturned it. My brethren at NBC -- Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick, Cris Collinsworth and Bob Costas -- thought it was inconclusive. All of them.
I watched some more. I saw Holmes catching the ball, and at the moment of the catch, the absolute moment, it appears the ball is piercing the plane by inches. But is it a lock that the ball crossed the line? No. I watched it a few more times. I don't see it. I see the likelihood of the ball breaking the plane. I do not see the certainty. The replay rule mandates indisputable visual evidence to change a call -- if 20 people are watching a play, they see the same thing. This was not one of those plays.
Football is an unpredictable sport where anything can happen. The replay system's purpose should be to keep the officials from having too much power. If an official makes a blatantly bad call, then the replay should be there to overturn it. However, the ruling on the field should be the Bible, and overturning it should be extremely difficult. It cannot be a "judgment call."
This is the continuing problem with the replay system. I think officials need to realize what "indisputable'' means. It doesn't mean likely, or most likely. We still see calls like this, year after year. I'm sure we'll hear cries to abolish replay in the coming days, which is ridiculous. I just wish the rule would be applied exactly the way it was intended. As, I'm sure, do the fine people of Baltimore this morning.
Obviously, Steelers fans are less concerned with this issue. A win is a win, and the Steelers earned it. I'm not trying to take that away. The Steelers had the momentum late in the game, but does the likelihood of a Steelers’ victory somehow justify calls in their favor? Absolutely not! Again, football is an unpredictable sport where anything can happen. Shouldn't both teams get a chance to catch a break? Isn't that the beauty of football?
This is pointless "whining" in regards to the game last night. Last night's game isn't my point. I believe that the Steelers had the upper-hand in the game last night. If they hadn't gotten the TD, they probably would have gone for the TD on fourth-down or scored in OT. These are all true statements. However, wouldn't everyone (including Raven's fans) feel better if they had gotten the TD on fourth-down? No one was "whining" when the Ravens lost to the Steelers in OT. It was an excellent, decisive victory. Controversial, overturned calls cheapen the game. Let's play football!