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30 Nov 2007

Audibles at the Line: Packers at Cowboys

compiled by Doug Farrar

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2008. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

Each Friday morning, the FO staff doesn't usually put together a full Audibles, but between the game itself, the officiating, and one Bryant Gumbel in the booth, we had more than enough commentary from the Thursday night Packers-Cowboys game to do a stand-alone article.

Green Bay Packers 27 at Dallas Cowboys 37

Doug Farrar: Two early officiating questions. First, why is a crew run by a rookie official (John Parry) calling the two most important regular-season games of the year? I can understand that the league might not have thought that Green Bay-Dallas would essentially be the NFC's version of Pats-Colts in 2007, but Pats-Colts itself? Even if these assignments are as randomly generated as I assume the league wants us to think they are (which I'll believe when I see that Bill Leavy has called another Seahawks or Steelers game since Super Bowl XL), I think that some sort of "flex scheduling" would make sense if there's an obviously important game coming up. There are enough veteran crews who haven't called a game by either team this season if that's the concern. If a game's important enough to move in the time slot to get better ratings (obviously, we're not talking about THIS game!), it's important enough to be called reasonably correctly.

Second, I have no idea why Mike McCarthy, once told that he couldn't challenge possession of the T.O./Al Harris fight for the ball early in the first quarter, instead decided to challenge whether it was a catch or not. That Owens caught the ball looked very obvious to me -- that Harris may have torn the ball away, and forward progress was apparently involved, should be challengeable. That challenge just seemed very weird to me.

Michael David Smith: I thought that was a horrible call -- I thought it was very obvious that Harris stripped the ball and possessed it before anything happened that would have caused the play to be blown dead. The official who had the best view made the right ruling and was overruled by an official who had nowhere near as good a view. I really hate when that happens.

Mike Tanier: I just want to point out what a well-officiated game this has been in the first half. The stripes have not misinterpreted an interception as a catch, missed a running into (at least) the kicker call, completely ignored T.O. using popcorn as a prop after a touchdown, or missed a facemask penalty in the open field. None of this has happened. It has been brilliantly officiated.

Now the refs can't get the line of scrimmage right within 10 yards after a challenge. Where did they find these guys?

Bill Barnwell: Allow me to steal a line Baseball Prospectus stole from someone: Ken Hamlin is Magellan.

Doug Farrar: The NFL should have an award for the player whose value is only truly recognized in his absence (2006 winner: Marcus Tubbs), and either Charles Woodson or Albert Haynesworth should win it this year. To paraphrase Tanier in Rundown, Green Bay's secondary now consists of Al Harris and the Wal-Mart Greeters.

Bill Barnwell: Tubbs over Tommie Harris? The NFL Displacement Player of the Year!

Doug Farrar: Great name. And yes, just barely. Seattle's front seven had a bigger performance drop without Tubbs than Chicago's did without Harris. Especially against the run.

Ned Macey: I disagree on Woodson. He's a big loss, as the Packers obviously have no depth there, but the problem is Romo has 10 seconds in the pocket every time he throws. The bigger loss today is KGB. Both teams are trying to throw the ball down the field. One quarterback has all the time in the world, and the other is getting constantly hit.

Maybe only 30 percent of the world is watching this game, but I would suspect that every person with an NFL Coach of the Year ballot is watching, and I think Mike McCarthy is losing many a vote.

Brett Favre leaves the game in the second quarter with an elbow injury, to be replaced by Scott Stapp look-alike Aaron Rodgers.

Mike Tanier: I am watching Prince Valiant play quarterback for the Packers. Be still my beating heart!

Michael David Smith: A.J. Hawk just had back-to-back tackles for loss, both on completed passes. When's the last time a defensive player did that?

Doug Farrar: Well, there ya go. T.O. was so offended by the earlier bad call, he handed the ball to Al Harris in the end zone at the start of the fourth quarter. Who says he's a jerk?

Michael David Smith: Every time a Cowboys receiver goes in motion, the Packers' defense looks confused. They miss Woodson.

Bill Barnwell: I think it's because they're desperately, desperately trying to avoid a T.O. mismatch, and want to make sure of it at all times -- and a lot of the motioning going on has to do with T.O.

Mike Tanier: It's the same motion each time. T.O. motions inside behind Crayton. Every time, Al Harris and the other defender try to switch off. The result has either been T.O. open or Crayton open.

After the game has ended, and the 42-yard fourth-quarter defensive pass interference call on cornerback Tramon Williams has had time to sink in...

Doug Farrar: Well, MDS, would you like to start beating the "Nobody knows what pass interference is" drum, or shall I? It's really sad when two great teams face off in a tightly-contested game and the primary post-game story has to be the horrible officiating. John Parry and his crew should be raked over the coals for this game, and I hope that we've finally seen the pass interference call that will make it reviewable when the Competition Committee meets next spring.

Still, there were some great sub-plots. Aaron Rodgers showed outstanding pocket presence and efficiency -- he didn't look rattled at all out there. Green Bay really does have a running game. The Dallas offense is everything it's cracked up to be, and this T.O. may be even better than the one we saw in Super Bowl XXXIX. Their defense may be the difference in the NFC. I'd like this game to be replayed next week with Ed Hochuli's crew, just to see how it would actually turn out.

Mike Tanier: After all the junky calls, I don't think the Packers would have won with better refs. They would have lost a drive to a roughing the punter call. Favre still seemed intent on throwing five picks if he stayed in the game. The pass coverage was terrible with or without a tacky PI to give the Cowboys a scoring opportunity. The refs didn't cost anyone the game, they just came across as bumblers who couldn't communicate and agree on a reasonable call.

I am also not sure I want pass interference penalties reviewed because I don't want seven-hour games. I hate the PI lottery and I wish the refs would let them play a little more on long passes, but the thought of a ref going under the hood with a 20-page set of rules to review makes me think it wouldn't help.

Doug Farrar: I don't know -- it seems to me that if a crew can get together, discuss a penalty and throw a late flag based on what they think they saw while the play was happening, review is a logical next step. Maybe the league makes any PI penalty over fifteen yards reviewable. Something where a team isn't essentially gifted four downs from goal-to-go range.

Mike Tanier: I was happy to see them discuss the calls. But in both cases the guy who made what looked like a better call was overrules. On the T.O./Harris interception catch, the guy who saw the whole play was overruled. On the Williams call, the guy who was emphatically signaling "no interference" was waved off by a back judge 20 yards further away. Discuss, then make the right call. Or, here's an idea, back judge: if you thought it was interference, THROW THE FLAG instead of walking up, talking to everyone, then throwing the flag after the crowd convinces you it was pass interference.

Aaron Schatz: This was the same official as Colts-Patriots? Holy mackerel. Now that pass interference call makes more sense. I am so, so, so sick and tired of games being decided by questionable 30-50 yard pass interference penalties. I vote for "uncatchable." On the other hand, the Packers do have something like twice as many DPI penalties as any other defense.

Somebody needs to smack some sense into Atari Bigby. Look, kid, there is a difference between playing aggressive and playing too aggressively. He may not lead the league in penalties, but he absolutely leads the league in "penalties in games Aaron was watching." Get your hands off the face mask, dude. The guy makes me scream at the television, and I'm not even a Packers fan.

Doug Farrar: Right. According to the handy-dandy FO Penalty Database, Green Bay came into this game with 11 defensive pass interference flags. Bigby has four of them, which is the most this season by anyone (the ubiquitous Mr. Woodson actually has three). Cleveland is second by team with seven. In addition, John Parry's crew came into this game tied with Tony Corrente's and Terry McAulay's for the league lead in DPI calls with 10. So, there's your match made in Heaven.

Bill Moore: Yes, Bryant Gumbel just referred to him as "Rick Romo."

Aaron Schatz: Well, once we've smacked some sense into Atari Bigby, we need to smack some sense into Bryant Gumbel. Seriously, who the hell is "Rick Romo?" I hate it when fans start lambasting writers or broadcasters for innocent mistakes, but there is a difference between making an innocent mistake once a game and making mistakes every five minutes. When the Cowboys tied the game at three, Gumbel said "the Packers will settle for the field goal here." A few minutes later, he said about Marion Barber "Mike McCarthy characterized him as the heartbeat of Green Bay's offense." I also liked when number 57 got injured. "That looks like Akin A... I'm sorry, Bradie James... no, Kevin Burnett."

Bill Barnwell: That's not on Gumbel, that's on his spotter.

Doug Farrar: And "Rick" is now officially the next Brett Favre -- Cris Collinsworth went on this big rambling riff about how he's "just havin' fun out there."

Aaron Schatz: I thought it was pathetic at the end when Gumbel and Collinsworth started looking for reasons to turn this game into "the Cowboys can beat the Patriots." They said about the Cowboys, "This is a far different team than the team of six games ago." What the hell are you talking about? This is the exact same team as it was six games ago!!!

17 players started both this game and the game against the Pats, and other than Greg Ellis, the differences are based solely on what scheme Dallas was playing on the first play of each game (i.e. Fasano started against the Pats, Hoyte against the Packers). If the Cowboys beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, they're going to do it with the same players that lost to the Patriots in the regular season.

Doug Farrar: When it comes to Gumbel in the booth, there's one Elvis Costello line that expresses it best. "I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused."

Michael David Smith: I'll just add that I'm glad Aaron Rodgers played well. I thought before the 2005 draft that Rodgers was a better prospect than Alex Smith, and although we obviously haven't seen enough of Rodgers to know what kind of player he is, I certainly didn't see anything tonight that would change my mind.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 30 Nov 2007

192 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2007, 1:20am by Nathan Z


by Flounder (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:19pm

I vote for Collins and Rouse to be the starters at safety. They'd loose some in the running game, but Bigby has seemingly regressed into a huge liability.

by pcs (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:20pm

My favorite Gumbelism of the night came when he couldn't tell whether Romo had handed off to Julius Jones or Marion Barber, so he split the difference and called him "Marion Jones."

She's stronger than both of them anyway.

by Insancipitory (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:31pm

I can't even imagine the horror of a Kornheiser and Gumble duo. Why did the NFL Network put him in the booth at all? Can't we have Marshall Faulk or Dick Vermeil? Why is he on TV? He's paid a ridiculous sum of money, and he doesn't have any appreciation of what is happening or who is playing in a game he's paid to watch. Silence would be a huge improvement.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:34pm

As a Pats fan, I am comforted by the officiating: the refs are not biased against the Pats after all, just utterly clueless.

I agree with making at least long PI calls reviewable. The excuse that they shouldn't be because they are "a judgment call" is ludicrous: judgment calls can only be helped by having better views to judge from.

by Harris (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:36pm

Gumble is a big Mamet fan and he was thinking of Al Pacino's star turn as Ricky Roma.

Are there any rules governing how officials overrule each other, or is it just a personal decision by the head referee? It seems obvious that the guy closest to the play would have the most influence but it's just as obvious that's not the case.

by Nick (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:38pm

The announcing was not good and the red line of scrimmage was just weird. I really thought NFLN would get better this year, but if anything it's actually worse.

by Arkaein (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:41pm

Somewhat oddly, this game gave me some hope as a Packer fan. If the Pack has Woodson and KGB, and Favre doesn't pay his worst game of the season the outcome is a toss-up, and all of these factors could easily come out in the Packer's favor in the likely NFCC rematch.

With regards to the officiating, I just want to point out that on the hitting the punter non-call, the ref may have determine that the Dallas TE blocked the rusher into the punter. It wasn't much of a shove, but the back replay showed his arms extended into the Packer's rusher. In any case, it looked a lot more like running into the kicker than roughing, and it was 4th and longer than 5, so a penalty there would have had little difference on the outcome.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:46pm

"It seems obvious that the guy closest to the play would have the most influence but it’s just as obvious that’s not the case."

Yeah, I've seen too many calls where a ref 6 feet away says "no call" and someone 40 yards across the field decides to make a call (and replay shows that no call was warranted)

I think its an issue of one guy saying "there was no foul" and the other guy saying "there was, you just couldn't see it"

by Len (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:46pm

How to rationalize a loss:

a) blame injuries

b) blame the officials

by Flounder (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:48pm

Re: 7 What I'm discouraged by is that, holding to form, ever since the superbowl lost to Denver 9 years ago, Favre doesn't seem to be able to stop himself from trying to do too much in every big game.

by Flounder (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:49pm

Re: 8 how else are you supposed to respond to a loss by your team? Say, "gosh we suck" We MUST rationalize, it gives us hope :)

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:51pm

I am a bit surprised that nobody mentioned guard Daryn Colledge being benched in the second quarter. Though maybe it was never announced on the broadcast. Colledge was directly responsible for some of the Cowboy defenders coming scott free and after a quarter and a bit Mike McCarthy had enough.

Regarding the shots downfield those were all on Favre. At least the Packer writers believe based on comments from various channels last night after the game. Note that in the first drive GB had success going underneath and then all of the sudden it was bombs away.

I have written elsewhere but Number 4 just played stupid last night and only he can answer for what he saw that nobody else could see. Because on every deep throw there was a Packer receiver or TE running free underneath for an easy 10-20 yard gain.

I have stated my piece on Bigby and Collins. Neither has a clue in pass coverage and only a pass rush has saved them up to this point.

Kampman was the only guy getting to Romo and even then it was sporadic. Corey Williams was a non-factor as was Cullen Jenkins. Both have played up to this point so give credit to the Dallas line who had their way with both guys for most of the night.

GB relies heavily on man coverage but one would think that at some point the defense would practice zone. Certainly before a big game when you go zone regularly. But nobody seemed to know their assignments. Oh, Jarrett Bush was also benched last night replaced by Tramon Williams about late second quarter IIRC.

The Packer kick coverage was beyond abysmal. I think the Dallas returner had three different carries of over 30 yards. That's awful.

The score was deceiving. As soon as GB really threatened the Dallas defense came up with a sack on third down on GB's drive after getting within 3 and then the Dallas offense stuck it down the Packers throats.

GB was overmatched last night and their veteran QB playing like a 7th grader trying to impress the freshman girls with his strong arm just sealed their fate.


by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:54pm

I had the mute button engaged for most of the game in order to avoid Gumbel. The NFL should be embarrassed.

Regarding the offciating, on what basis does a guy further away from the play overrule a guy closer, regarding forward progress? This isn't as if the guy further away could see something that was masked by the closer guy. Really a bad call.

Actually the first big PI penalty had issues as well, although not as large as the second one. On the first one, the contact was initiated by the receiver, when he reached back and pulled the db forward, who then lost his balance and started stumbling forward. It was a difficult thing to see live, however, so it was not nearly as bad as the second call.

I've never been a fan of the way PI is handled in college football, since I think in the NFL it would really lead to a lot of deliberate muggings on very long passes. I really hate it, however, when games are greatly influenced by bad PI calls on long passes. The Cowboys were the better team, but calls like that really decrease my enjoyment of the game. Maybe automatic booth reviews, like challenges in the last two minutes, of any PI penalty of more than 25 or 30 yards, should be considered.

Also, McCarthy did seem to have a bad game, especially if he played the primary role, instead of Favre's decision making, in all the deep passes being thrown. Kicking the field goal on fourth and inches at the end, as if it could be assumed that 10 points was enough, was a bad decision as well.

Regarding Rodgers, a qb's decision making and pocket awareness should never be judged in detail when he comes in as a reliever, especially when he has hardly played. Wail until a defensive coordinator schemes for a qb to make those evaluations. What can be said is that he is a mobile guy with excellent velocity and a quick release, and that ain't a bad start.

by Mike L (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:58pm

It would appear that Bryant Bumble is in over his head as an announcer. And it would appear that the Cowboys have won. It would appear that today is Friday. The workday starts for what would appear to be the fifth time this week. Hey, he's five yards over the 1st down line for what would appear, even to a blithering idiot, to be a first down. I would appear to say it would appear a few thousand times too many. It would appear that I'm done.

by Len (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 12:59pm


I agree. I always hear everyone say how incredible Favre is but it would be interesting to put together some numbers on his performances in big games.

As long as I can remember I've seen him get excited in big games, lose his accuracy, and make some bonehead decisions. I still remember the last playoff game in Texas stadium when he overthrew his receivers a bunch and complained about the crown on the field.

As a Cowboys fan, given Favre's history with us, I'll say I'm actually more concerned with Rodgers becoming the man, pulling a Romo in the next few weeks and the Pack coming back in the NFCC with him at the helm.

Two more thoughts:

With Romo sitting 3+ years, and Rodgers 2+ years, if Rodgers turns out to be the real deal, then maybe this will start a much needed trend to actually go back to the good old days of sitting signal callers to let them learn.

You should be hopeful of your future as a Pack fan, Flounder. Youngest team in league, with a young QB possibility. With the Cowboys the fourth youngest team, maybe the Cowboys and Packers will become the old/new rivalry for the next 5 years.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:00pm


Regarding the field goal late please note that the Packer interior line is not good, the Packer runners have repeatedly failed in short yardage and Crosby has hit several long field goals this season.

And do you really want to have the backup qb do a roll out or keeper in that situation?

Nah, given the context and manpower involved the FG was the better choice. Sad, but true.

Al Harris should be GRATEFUL for last night's officiating crew. He was beating the bejeezus out of Owens and no flags. If it had been a WELL-officiated game Al and other Packer defensive backs would have had another 50-70 yards in penalties. Easy.

by Flounder (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:01pm

Badger, I couldn't get to the back of a noisy sports bar until right when Favre got hurt, and I saw Coston playing right guard. Did they move Spitz to left guard?
I am heartened that Rodgers looked like a real, live, NFL quarterback. That was certainly nice to see. I agree that it really wasn't as close as the score indicated.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:05pm

Badger, I'd love to see the coach's tape, because I also suspect that Favre's decision making was the primary cause of all the heave-hos. I don't understand it, because it is such a departure from what he has been doing this year, and is why I didn't want the Vikings to try to blitz Favre.

Kampman had a decent game, I thought, and if he had some assistance from the other defensive linemen, Romo wouldn't have had such an easy time of it. Finally, Harris hasn't made nearly as many mental errors in any other game this year, has he?

by Greg (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:05pm

I don't think PI should be reviewable - too many reviews and no hard evidence to evaluate in the review - but whatever happened to the ball not being catchable? Far too many of these long PI calls are on passes that would've been miraculous catches even without a defender there.

by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:08pm

#8: I don't think it's necessarily rationalizing. I had absolutely no rooting interest in this game, and I was shocked at how screwed the Packers were.

Here's an easy way to fix PI: limit penalties to 15 yards, unless it appeared to be egregious/intentional. You're still allowing some leeway for the refs, and you avoid replay, but something minor like the penalty last night doesn't become a free TD.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:10pm


Len, please if you are going to take shots get the facts straight. When the Packers lost to Dalls in 1994 27-17 Favre was 28-45 for 331 yards and two TD passes. I believe the fumbled kickoff leading to a TD, etc. had a little to do with that outcome.

And in 1995 Favre was 21-39 for 280 yards. The Packers were up 27-24 when Emmitt Smith steamrolled Green Bay in the fourth quarter. And I checked various news reports from the game courtesy of the NY Times archives, ESPN, etc. and no mention of Favre complaining about anything other than HIM not making enough plays. MIKE HOLMGREN complained about the crown of the field. Holmgren being the head coach at the time.

Favre did not play WELL in either game.


Correct. This was likely College's last chance. Expect Coston to take over full time. I cannot believe that the coaching staff can tolerate this stuff any longer.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:10pm

Badger, I'd agree if the Packers defense had shown the ability to keep the Cowboys on their end of the field, but they hadn't, so I thought it pretty likely that the Cowboys would be scoring more points. Thus, I thought the Packers would need two touchdowns.

by bsr (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:12pm

After having a dreadful start to the game and beign battered around for much of it, was anyone else reminded of Rodney Dangerfield in Caddy Shack as Favre walked off the field with his "injury".

"oh, oh...my arm! I think its broken!" :)

Of course I am not serious but the image popped into my head as he was walking off the field shaking his arm vigorously. Made me laugh at least.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:15pm


I have written previously that Harris has lost his speed and last night exposed that fact. Every so often he can run with someone but then he's typically gassed for the next several plays so he picks his spots.

Not having Woodson to work with hurt Al (and the defense) big time. Woodson and Harris communicate with some sort of mind-meld thing and just KNOW who has who and how. Having to work with Jarrett Bush and then Tramon Williams exposed all of Al's flaws. That and if he was free-lancing, which he can do in coordination with Woodson, it blew up in the Packers faces. That play where it was 3rd and 19 and Romo hit a guy for 35 yards who was just sitting on the sideline HAD to be a case of no communication between the defensive secondary.

Sure the lack of a pass rush hurt. But even when Kampman got in Romo's face as he did down near the goal line Harris was oblivios to where the ball was located since he was so focussed on RUNNING he couldn't even turn his head to notice that his guy had stopped.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:16pm

15. I can't believe a cowboys fan is defending a packer player from a packer fan, but here it goes. I'd heard a lot about the physicality of the Packer DBs, and while Woodson didn't play today, I saw a lot of that from Harris. But I'm not sure that much if any of it warrented penalties. There was the one "karate chop" blow that Harris gave TO on a pass that TO caught any for a big gain, but that was it. I think Harris displayed some of the best "bump" coverage I've seen around the league, and it was all pretty much legal. I thought Owens beat the other coverage on the field more than he beat Harris.

Now, for the long PI... am I wrong in saying that if the first ref hadn't hesitated in throwing his flag, we wouldn't be talking about what a questionable call that was? I mean, the DB had his hand on Austin's shoulder and gave it a yank, then there was the tripping (which, I admit COULD have been unintentional) on a ball that I thought was catchable. Add that in with the fact that Austin clearly beat his man on the play, so there's not "he was playing the ball" argument there.

In any case, even if it's not PI it's still at the very least illegal contact for putting his hand on his shoulder and elbow after the 5 yards right? And it came on 1st and 10 from midfield when it looked improbable that the packers would be holding the cowboys offense and on a play when the receiver had his man beat down the field.

by J Martin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:17pm

Regarding the PI or Not PI, it was a tough call. Once the DB had his hand on Austin's arm after he stumbled into his back, he probably lost all benefit of the refs' doubt.

I feel that Woodson was a more significant loss than KGB. Flozell would have "mostly" handled KGB. And it didn't appear that Colombo got alot of help with Kampmann. So, the option of helping with KGB was there.

KGB loses contain alot, too. Romo takes advantage of that.

Woodson would have taken away the 2nd WR and with Witten being well accounted for, Romo's options would have been limited. That, and GB wouldn't have played zone as much.

But, clearly the BOTH of them being out had real impact.

Meh, Newman and or Henry have been a little gimpy all season.

If GB doesn’t get away from the 5 wide, quick pass stuff, they probably could have won. But, that also puts pressure on the QB to be fairly perfect.

Onsides kick, flea flicker, Brett chucking it to the middle of the field? Just unexplainable.

BTW, that was a very nice Girlfriend Network Pop Up thingy...fine china sets are on my list, as well.

by billsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:17pm

"Maybe the league makes any PI penalty over fifteen yards reviewable. Something where a team isn’t essentially gifted four downs from goal-to-go range."

That's easy. Make pass interference a spot foul not to exceed half the distance to the goal. Every other penalty isn't allowed to bring a team more than halfway to the goal line, so why should PI be any different?

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:20pm

Maybe that ball wasn't catchable, everyone says it wasn't, so I guess I've got to take another look.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:27pm

Green Bay was really counting on Will Blackmon to be the primary backup cornerback this season. He was eligible to play but had JUST returned from injury. I suspect with 10 days between now and the next game Blackmon will be getting LOTS of reps.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:36pm

temo, if that sort of illegal contact call was made consistently, the Patriots could drive the field with each possession, by flinging it 40 yards in the direction of Moss on every play.

by Greg (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:37pm

26 - wow, good point. Probably would need some study to evaluate the effects, but I think worth considering. It would avoid allowing the muggings beyond 15 yds of the college rules, but might invite muggings in the endzone when it's already goal-to-go.

by Greg (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:39pm

Temo, 29 - I thought once the ball was in the air it was Pass Interference or nothing? Illegal contact was only before the pass (or away from the pass)?

by Fergasun (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:39pm

Can someone tell me why NFL.com has a picture of TO slamming popcorn into his face? I thought they didn't like that type of celebration? So why put it on the front page?

I was able to enjoy Dick Enberg/Dennis Green on Westwood Radio. Green immediately recognized it as a bad call and one that wouldn't be overturned or even challengable. I know he was one step away from mentioning the Edge fumble in CHI-ARI last year... I would've appreciated it...

by billsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:40pm

"...but might invite muggings in the endzone when it’s already goal-to-go."

Not if it's an automatic first down.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:48pm

31. Yea, I meant maybe the ball wasn't in the air already, but I might be wrong on that. Gosh, I need a replay of that play, last night feels like an eternity ago.

29. It might not have been illegal contact as per 31, but I don't see how you should be allowed to yank back someone's shoulder like that. Especially when you're already beat on the play, I think the refs would call that every time. Regardless, the discussion it self points to why PI is such a broken rule because no one knows what PI is anymore.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:50pm


I don't think any penalty is going to prevent muggings in the end zone, because theres really no worse consequence than 7 points. Giving up a first down is still better than giving up a TD. If its a well thrown easily catchable ball in a place you can't get to, you'll still always be better off hitting the receiver than letting him catch it, and I dont think theres anything they could do about that.

by Fergasun (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:53pm

In regards to the controversial calls:
1) The NFL officials never-ever-ever call forward progress unless the player is getting ganged up and has already lost 3-4 yards.
2) The NFL officials never-ever-ever call balls uncatchable anymore.
3) The NFL officials have always thought of "legs getting tangled" as incidental contact.

*Technical note: "Never-ever" and "always" can also translate to "95% of the time".

Anyways... Josh Parry is just going to be another Ron Winter. Sad because I think Jerome Boger and especially Geno Sticantspelli seem to be above average officials.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:55pm

Ok, just saw the play, the contact happened way after the ball was released, so I'm wrong there.

But there's no way that ball wasn't catchable. Austin gets tripped and falls face first at the 5 yard line, the ball hits at the 2 and 1/2 yard line. Given the trajectory of the ball, I'd think there was at least a 50% chance of the ball being caught. The tripping is what it is, and part of what makes PI so subjective. It didn't look intentional to be honest.

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:56pm

26: Are you serious? Can you imagine how Darth Belichick would coach his DBs to take advantage of that one? Opposing wideouts would be going down as if they'd been hit by sniper fire as soon as they looked like they were about to make a big play.

by Costa (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 1:58pm

There's a lot of arguments that can be made about improving PI. One thing that people should not count on however, is the "uncatchable ball" call. UB *never* gets called. It is in the rulebook for nothing more than show. No official ever calls it, at least never in my experience of watching games.

And to be honest, I think it's better that way. Who's to say the receiver wouldn't have made a miraculous play? We see it from time to time, no? Who's to say that if the receiver wasn't impeded he wouldn't have had an extra step, making what might seem like uncatchable after the foul into merely difficult? Besides, the fact that it's a bad throw doesn't change the fact that the defender broke the rules. If it's a bad throw, keep your hands off the receiver and you'll get your incomplete pass. Why should the rules suddenly become more liberal?

The whole uncatchable business should just be removed from the rulebook. Even now that it's there, no officials have the balls to call it, so all it does is cause more uncertainty and argument after the fact. Taking it out of the equation would at least simplify and take some guesswork out of what is currently a very confusing and unevenly called rule.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:01pm

Last night's officiating selection was known as The David Stern method. When you have a rookie ref that has not built his backbone, it seems the home team gets alll the calls.
Maybe when there are enough game charters, we can get a referee DPAR system.
All in all, the Cowboys were PROBABLY still the better team and they did have the higher score when time expired.
And yes, I would pay to see this game played on a neutral field and Hoculi's crew, with both teams healthy.
But we'll probably have to settle for all but neutral field in the NFC Championship game.
Then maybe after that, if there were a game that took the NFC Champion, and pitted them against the AFC Champion...We'll call it the "Super" game, and have it played in a neutral Bowl-shaped stadium. Who's with me?

by Mike W (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:03pm

Observations (echoing Badger, but I gotta get this out):

Favre played horribly. I am certain throwing deep into tight double coverage six times while other receivers were open was NOT the game plan. It was not McCarthy’s fault.

I want Rouse in and Bigby out. Now. And I want Jarrett Bush cut. I didn’t think he could be more of a disaster than he was last week, but I was wrong.

Favre played like an asshole.

KGB and Woodson would have helped, certainly. But the Packer DBs – including Harris - were as bad as I can remember, particularly the safeties. They frequently couldn’t decide who to take deep, and wound up choosing noone.

Favre was deeply disappointing, and I can only hope that this will keep him from pulling the same crap next time, if there is one.

Kampman got close a few times, and was certainly the best Packer pass rusher, but give Colombo credit – he handled Kampman 1-on-1 most of the game.

The refereeing was exactly as appalling as expected. If we got a well-refereed game at this point, wouldn’t we be surprised?

Favre really sucked last night. Glad to see Rodgers playing well, though. You can see that aside from game experience – he still needs experience to get the game to slow down for him a little more – he has the tools. He doesn’t get through his progressions as quickly as Favre (when Favre is interested in doing so), but that’s a skill that takes time to develop.

The Cowboys were the better team, and are the beter team, but GB can certainly beat them.

Favre really needs to come in for an ass-whooping from McCarthy. It’ll never happen, but I’d be delighted to see a public haranguing of Favre by his buddy the HC.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:03pm

This discussion of penalties baffles me. Dallas was going to score on GB. A few penaltes may have expedited the process.

by Drew (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:07pm

As a Packer fan, I was impressed by Dallas' defense. They got better pressure on Favre than any other team this year. Plus, they took away some of his slant routes, and he freaked out. We have to accept that he will have brain dead games a couple times a year, and this was one. But it was the Dallas D that forced him into it.

McCarthy had a bad game. He tried too many trick plays and he overreacts to what the defense does. I think that got him into throwing long. The good thing is that he is a young coach and he learns from his mistakes. I don't think he will do those things next meeting.

Jennings was great running after the catch. Absolutely teriffic.

Badger: I was wrong about Bigby. He does suck. Put in Rouse. Harris was lost at times. This team really missed Woodson.

Hawk on the other hand had a great game.

by Otis Taylor 89 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:10pm

Are the Cowboys O line part of the same species as the rest of us? How can humans be so big? I thought Lenard Davis was the biggest, Flozell Adams is Jonathan Ogdenish. Why wouldn't you just put a little, fast ST player rushing the passer on passing downs and wait for the holding calls?

by Mike W (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:12pm

I saw nothing Dallas' defense did that kept, or should have kept the Packers from RUNNING THEIR OFFENSE. Like Tanier said, some more max protect stuff would have been nice, but when they ran their offense (when Favre wasn't overruling it) they did fine. They still would have lost, because they couldn't stop Dallas.

by Costa (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:12pm

I got in on the penalties stuff simply because it was the current topic being discussed. It certainly doesn't mean I thought it affected the outcome of the game. :) Dallas was clearly the better team last night. Change that late PI to an incomplete and I still think Dallas marches down the field and scores. Moreover, don't forget that Dallas had another should-have-been TD taken away by a combination of bad hands and bad luck.

There's a lot of topics to talk about after last night's game, but injustice isn't one of them. :)

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:14pm

Well, Badger, 50 yard expediting makes for a less enjoyable game to watch. The Cowboys were clearly better, but it would have been a better game to watch without the expediting.

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:14pm

I really don't understand Tanier's problem with the non-call on the roughing the punter, the rusher was blocked into him. ( I really hate that rule anyway, the return team should be allowed to attempt to block the kick).

I thought the Tramon Williams PI was legitimate too. He had stopped looking back for the ball and then ran into the receiver in a rather contrived fashion.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:16pm

43. The dallas line has been far from perfect this season. Last night you just saw a good, decent line having a great day. Romo I think had to scramble once, and Kampman played him well on that play.

Flo is like 6'7" or 8", but Leonard Davis is like 380 lbs (his listed team weight of 330 is laughable) so I'd say Davis is the bigger one. The dude was supposedly 300 lbs. in the 7th grade. Columbo, who actually has been the best member of that line (if you take into account Flo's multiple mental lapses every game).
The cowboys have always had huge lines ever since Jerry Jones took over the team, just like some other team (broncos?) have historically had smaller lines.

by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:16pm

After reading this Audibles, I can officially announce that there's a new frontrunner for most overrated defensive player on my FO Awards ballot. Hint: It sure as heck isn't Aaron Kampman. In fact, he's my frontrunner for defensive player of the year.

Re: Williams pass interference

I was watching the game at a loud bar, so I could be completely wrong about this, but I thought the issue that required the conference of officials was whether the ball was catchable. The refs probably agreed that Williams had impeded Austin's progress, but the official closest to the play didn't throw the flag because he considered the ball uncatchable. He was subsequently overruled.

by Greg (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:17pm

Costa, how long have you been watching games? "Catchable" used to be a key determination. (You usually wouldn't hear the officials say anything about it - they just wouldn't throw the flag.)

I agree, however, that it has been seriously de-emphasized. And there are reasons - certainly it should have no effect on whether a DB can break a rule.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:19pm


That one play where Owens ran past the secondary and Hawk recognized what was happening and ran after Owens while waving at Bigby to get going was both amusing and sad.

AJ gets a lot of cr*p because he's not blowing up running backs. But it's clear that Sanders has him helping out the safeties on pass coverage so Hawk has to be REALLY certain before committing on a run play.

Note that in the second half Sanders had Hawk try and disrupt the crossing routes more and then of course Witten went off after not catching a pass in the first half.

So if and when anyone decides to criticize the fifth pick in the 2006 draft and just goes to the tackle/sack totals please dig a bit deeper. Hawk ain't the best in the league but the guy is being asked to do more than most any other linebacker because his fellow safeties STINK.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:19pm

43. Oops, I didn't answer your question. The answer is that Davis would probably eat said player then the NFL would have a bigger issue on its hands.

by coldbikemessenger (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:22pm

What is the problem with the last pi call?
Before their feet got tangled
The packer db put his hand on the dallas wr without looking back.
That is almost always called pi
Look back
There is a lot you can get away with
Don't look back
And that call is generally made
Perhaps not always made
But almost always made.
I would have thought this was obvious.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:22pm

49. No, the ref who called it incomplete was gesturing at his legs, saying that the contact was incidental. My guess was that the other official saw the hand on the shoulder (which was very minor) and told the one making the call about it.

by dmb (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:26pm

32: I thought about that, too. They also featured a video of Chad Johnson's celebration last Sunday. How hypocritical is that -- the league fines players and penalizes their teams (or, in the case of TO, erroneously fails to penalize them) for an action that they subsequently use to boost traffic to their website. That's ridiculous. Of course, I'm glad that they posted those videos, because I didn't get to see them on TV . . .

You know the broadcasters are bad when you're two minutes into a HIGHLIGHT video and your primary thought is, "who are the guys in the booth? They're terrible!"

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:27pm


I suppose. But nobody here has even mentioned some of the blatant holds by the Packers offensive linemen during pass protection so again I just think this is a pretty pointless discussion.

I guess I have reached the point of acceptance. The officiating of pro football games is haphazard at best and comedic buffoonery at worst. It has been for a long time. Many, many, many, MANY people have commented on that fact. Yet nothing changes.

So I can waste electrons or just focus on other things.

by Joon (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:29pm


#1 is just not true. they call forward progress on sideline catches all the time. if you watch any game closely, you'll see it once or twice that when a WR is coming back to catch a ball and immediately goes out of bounds, the official will come over and windmill his arm, which means the clock runs. that's because the player is down by forward progress, not by out-of-bounds.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:29pm

Dallas o-line may have had their best game yesterday, once one adjusts for opponent strength, but make no mistake; they are greatly aided by a qb who gets rid of the ball NOW, once he has located the receiver, and who has tremendous pocket awareness, which was not needed as much last night as it has been in some other games. And receivers who get open, of course.

I've been watching this game longer than I care to admit, and it still is striking to me how difficult it is to evaluate player or unit performance, given how interconnected everyone's performance is.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:31pm

"The packer db put his hand on the dallas wr without looking back.
That is almost always called pi"

yes, but it shouldn't be when its very clear that the receiver put his hand out, and pulled on the defender, causing the defender to lose footing, lean forward, and try to catch himself.

by Costa (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:31pm

Perhaps you're right Greg. It may simply be a case of me not noticing when the rule is invoked on account of the absence of a flag, if that's indeed the procedure. I guess considering there is actually an official hand signal for it (the ref waving his hand over his head, you can click my name if anyone reading is interested in a visual representation), I assume the procedure to be that the ref should announce it. I could definitely be wrong though (in fact, I probably am).

PS: I've been watching for about 16 years now. =P

by Greg (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:33pm

DBs are allowed to touch the receiver, so long as they don't impede them. I think the idea is to allow them to keep track of the receiver without having to look at them.

I didn't think the hand on the shoulder amounted to interference.

by Len (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:33pm

#20: A little touchy there Badger. Apropos name though. I think the game I remember is this one:

Jan. 8, 1995 (playoffs), Dal 35, GB 9
Favre: 18-35-211, 0 TD, 1 INT, 58.2 RATING

Good luck defending your QB when he just had the worst passer rating game of his career, though. BTW, like your #41 post!

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:41pm


I enjoy facts. Vague anecdotes as justification for criticizing a player's performance don't work for me.

And you will note both in the Game Discussion thread and in the Audibles I have not expended any effort in defending Favre's play.

Do you skip posts? Because it's right there for anyone to see in post 11. Since I had written in greater detail elsewhere coupled with others already pointing out the obvious I felt no need to repeat myself.

Though I do give you credit for surprising me. I expected other posters to be claiming the "Favre is washed up, needs to be replaced" pole position. But I knew someone would go down this path as I mentioned last night. It's a given.

by Len (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:42pm

I’ve been watching this game longer than I care to admit, and it still is striking to me how difficult it is to evaluate player or unit performance, given how interconnected everyone’s performance is. - Will Allen

hear hear.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:45pm

I've was never a Cowboys hater in the Landry era. I came to have a mild dislike for Jerry Jones for the manner in which he canned Landry, but I liked Jimmy Johnson and his teams enough to overlook it. I really disliked the way in which Jones turned over the best team of the '90s to a guy whose primary talent was giving sales pitches to seventeen and eighteen year olds in their living rooms. I liked Parcells enough to forget about that, and really liked Marion Barber since college.

Now, however, Parcells is gone, although I like Wade Phillips and Romo. What I don't like about the prospect of a Cowboys championship is the notion of a guy like Owens, who has been a miserable teammate to many, being absolutely insufferable. If the Cowboys hoist the trophy, I can only hope Owens has a game filled with miscues like last night's whopper.

by Len (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:47pm

Last comment here Badger as I'm too good of a mood this morning to engage in a flame war. I never said he was washed up and needed to be replaced. I made a comment that for being such a celebrated QB (deservedly so), he has been known to lay an egg in the big game on occasion - particularly, for some reason, against the Cowboys. But I think Favre is great overall. I'm glad Romo emulates him.

by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:49pm

The strangest thing to me about the resistance to reviewing pass interference is the repeated admonition that "it's a judgment call."

Of course it's a judgment call. They are ALL judgment calls. The review process is very specifically a secondary judgment call, made with the benefit of slow motion and multiple camera angles.

Please fix this, NFL. Review the biggest plays in the game.

by Greg (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:51pm

Costa - I'd forgotten there was a signal for it. And I don't remember seeing it for a long time, either. In fact, I don't remember seeing it at all - but I know I've heard (years ago) a PI call waved off because it wasn't catchable. And having my Dad (who used to ref for HS games) explain why to me. Perhaps the signal was used when a flag was thrown, but the referee would explain it as "no penalty" - and now they just conference and say it didn't happen? Whatever, it just bugs me when a DB gets dinged on a long play that wasn't going to be completed anyway.

I think it boils down to whether penalties are called to keep the players honest, or to ensure a fair game. You can't always have both.

by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:52pm

I didn't expect to see the game last night, but I did (barely), because I was meeting some friends for drinks at what turned out to be one of the only sports bars nearby. On the downside, we didn't get a seat and had to listen to way too many dunken Cowboys fans (in California! Anyone who says that the Cowboys don't have bandwagoneers anymore is lying), but on the plus side, I got to see the game.

Dallas is a better team than Green Bay. As a Patriots fan, assuming the Pats get to the SB and face one of these two teams, this gives me hope.

On PI calls--didn't see the game ones to see how egregious they were, but PI is definitely a problem. It's a problem because it's a combination of very inconsistent calls, so DB's and coaches don't know what's legal anymore and have to try to adjust their playing style to the specific refs calling the game (which is a bad situation), combined with the fact that it is a HUGE damaging penalty. It seems like more and more teams are running deep passes with no real chance of success, just on the hopes of drawing PI.

I've long been a proponent of making it a 15 yard, automatic 1st, with a spot foul option if the refs judge it to be blatant. It's an imperfect solution, but probably better than the current system. I am not a fan of making it reviewable--while I like replay, I think the "human element" is an important part of the game, and if it looks like PI in realtime, it probably is and shouldn't be subject to frame-by-frame guesses of when the CB's arm started to re-direct the WR, etc. It actually may be that if the officials just got together and concentrated on being more consistent (for PI and for holding as well), a lot of these problems would vanish.

On the other hand, I think billsfan's idea of spot foul, automatic 1st, but at most half the distance to the goal is BRILLIANT and deserves serious consideration.

On the uncatchable thing--you need that rule. It's not the DB's job to determine whether or not the ball is catchable, since frequently all he has to go on is the behavior of the WR. If you got rid of the uncatchable rule, then QB's could just chuck the ball 10 yards out of bounds, but if the DB wasn't fixated on the ball, the WR could jump up as if he was about to catch it. The DB would then jump up to defend the ball he thought was going to come down in the WR's arms, bump into the WR, and get called for PI, even though the ball was uncatchable.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:52pm

"I’m actually more concerned with Rodgers becoming the man, pulling a Romo in the next few weeks and the Pack coming back in the NFCC with him at the helm."

Since it is expected that Favre will recover in time for the Oakland game I interpreted your comment to mean that Favre should be benched in favor of Rodgers.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:54pm

Will- Completely agree... you don't know how many times I've sat in a math lecture pondering how you could feasibly measure a the impact of a WRs skill on a QB's performance and vice versa.

I've been more down on the Dallas O-line than most, but I thought yesterday they played the best game they have all season. You're right about Romo bailing them out, but I didn't see that he needed to do AS MUCH of that as he usually does yesterday.

61. Don't be one of "those" cowboys fan. It doesn't reflect well.

60. Aye, and I, and most people, don't as well. I guess we'll have to wait for the official explanation of why that was a PI. IE, whether it was the tripping or the hand.

by Costa (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 2:58pm

I'm not sure reviewing PI would make much of a difference to how they're called.

The root of the problem to me is not that the officials make the wrong call... it's that the rule is so open to interpretation that no one knows for sure what the right call is anymore on many plays.

Does anyone here, whether they agree with the call or not, really think that reviewing that last PI would have led to a reversal? Remember, the evidence must be "indisputable". But look at us. We're disputing the hell out of it, and considering the strings "espn" or "foxsports" do not appear in this discussion's URL, I'm assuming most of us here are reasonable people with at least a passing knowledge of the game. Personally, I'm not 100% sure whether or not it was the right call, because the rule is so vague to me. I find it hard to argue with a firm ground one way or the other in most of the questionable PI calls.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 3:03pm

Hell, it's even worse than that, temo. Watching the Cowboys and Patriots this year, it has become apparent to me that neither has a great defense, and that if their respective offenses weren't so good, guys like us would be ripping their performance like we do defenses which don't have the luxury of such offenses. When one considers how an offensive player's performance affects a defensive teammate's performance, and vice-versa, one really begins to appreciate the difficulty in objectively evaluating football.

by Steve (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 3:13pm

TO giveth, TO taketh away...

For a great receiver (and he is pretty great, despite being an ass) I can't remember a guy who drops catchable balls more.

by John M (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 3:24pm

Bryant Gumbel's announcing of the game last night had me yearning for the halcyon days of Bill Maas. Hopefully next week's Bears-Skins tilt will synchronize nicely with the radio broadcast so I can listen in on WBBM while muting the TV.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 3:34pm

We Directv viewers can't use the radio broadcast; the radio feed is usually about 10-15 seconds ahead, in my experience, thus I am left with the mute botton as my only defense against Gumbeldom.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 3:47pm

Re: Changing PI penalties

I'd never thought about the "half the distance to the goal" angle, but I'm not sure that it wouldn't cause the same mugging problem as reducing it to an automatic 15 yarder. It would still give an incentive to the DBs to interfere on really long plays.

OTOH, I'm all for giving the refs a similar option as they are given on 'running into the kicker' versus 'roughing the kicker' calls. I think if the refs were given the choice to make a borderline PI call a 15 yarder and more egregious PIs a spot-foul(with any play under 15 yards being an automatic spot-foul), it would be great for the game.

Anytime the idea of making PIs reviewable comes up, the league is quick to point out the it's a judgement call. So why the hell won't they allow the refs to make a judgement call as to how impactful the interference was?

by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 3:57pm

Ironic that this article was brought to me today by Charter, considering they are one of the cable companies that refused to broadcast this game - aren't they?

by Spenserhawk (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:00pm

Re: 11

Badger - Your points were spot on...I actually felt like was reading my own thoughts that somebody else had written.

Bigby is really starting to scare me at safety...he makes mistakes and he doesn't seem to care.

by Black Squirrel (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:02pm

My problem with allowing PI to be reviewed is that it's still subject to problems inherent with all instant replay decisions, which is that it's impossible to see a play from every angle.

Why bother stopping the game when it is so difficult to get a definitive answer about something as subjective as pass PI?

I think the best (least worst?) way to handle PI penalties is 15 yards and an automatic first down, or maybe billsfan's suggestion. Receivers drop passes all the time, so the rulebook should not assume they catch everything.

by billsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:07pm


Preventing a near-certain score is incentive enough for mugging a receiver. On most deep passing plays (from your own 40, for example), half the distance to the goal would automatically put you in field-goal range with a first down, and would still be twice as far as any other penalty. Stomping someone's face only gets you 15 yards. Every other penalty is allowed to go no farther than half the distance to the goal. Why should PI be different, especially considering its game-changing potential?

by nath (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:11pm

38 - I saw a UB call on Sunday on a play in the end zone. I think it was during Saints-Panthers, but I'm not sure.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:14pm

I'm of the opinion that 15 yards should be the penalty for PI.

If the receiver is 30 yards down the field, you shouldn't be throwing him the ball unless hes got enough space on the DB that the DB can't get his hands on him. If he can get his hands on him, it wasn't a "near certain score". If the DB has the chance to "mug" a WR on a deep ball, either

A) the ball should never have been thrown, as the WR wasn't open

B) The ball was well underthrown

The real problem is, defenders are essentially getting punished when the QB underthrows a ball.

I think the rule needs to be changed so that "chuck it deep and hope for PI" isn't a valid offensive strategy.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:15pm

Re: 80

True, but you have to admit that the difference between putting the other team in FG range and putting them at 1st-and-goal from the 5 (using last night as an example) is a little different. I'm not saying that your suggestion isn't a whole ton better than the current rule, because it is. All I'm saying is that I think it'd be less effective than a two-tier penalty system.

by navin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:16pm

Thanks for pointing out the Aaron Rodgers/Alex Smith comparison. I was thinking the same thing. It just makes a bad season even worse.

by Xian (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:20pm

#75 - We Directv viewers can’t use the radio broadcast; the radio feed is usually about 10-15 seconds ahead

When I still lived in MN, my friends and I would turn on the radio, and then meticulously sync up the Tivo to match the radio broadcast.

Wait a minute. You say the radio broadcast is ahead of the DirecTV broadcast? That just doesn't seem right.

I guess in theory you could pay for the NFL radio broadcast deal, run that through your AV system, and then sync the Tivo/DVR (assuming you have one) up with that broadcast.

Also, I have nothing new to say on the game, I was forced to watch it on the web (we had previous plans to hang out with a good friend at home), and Badger has already stated pretty clearly everything that I thought about what I could see/read about the game. Dallas played the better game and won, but if there is a rematch, I think that Green Bay can be competitive and potentially win next time.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:38pm

Regarding Rodgers it is VERY clear that McCarthy and whomever has cleaned up his delivery. Rodgers gets the ball out MUCH quicker than he did even in training camp earlier this summer.

He is also stronger. It was noticeable in training camp and you could see it some of the throws last night. Early in exhibitions in 2006 his throws would flutter. Now he gets the ball in there with a tad of oomph.

Who knows? But at least some of the basics are present.

by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:42pm

You need to get the Sirius unit with "replay radio" on it and you can pause it for 15 seconds to sync it up.

by turbohappy (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:50pm

Uncatchable ball is called when the ball is out of bounds, but I haven't seen it called in bounds in a long time.

by Brian (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:52pm

The annoying thing about the PI call in the 4th was that the official right there called incidental contact and was overruled by someone who could not possibly have seen the play any more clearly than he did. Same thing on the Harris takeaway from Owens in the 1st, the official right there called it Packers ball, and someone runs in and says it is not, when he had no better view of it than the official right there. As a Packers fan I would have been annoyed if the official right there had called it PI and forward-progress anyway, but at least I would have known that he, who actually saw the play clearly, made the call, not some yahoo 20+ yards across the field.

That said, the Packers may have lost anyway, as they only stopped the cowboys twice and that second one was a clear touchdown that TO handed to Harris...thanks btw. In any case, I definitely want Favre back, but I was glad to see that Rodgers played really well and the team really bonded around him, with Jennings making some great plays and great blocking downfield.

by billsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:56pm

The problem with adding another type of pass interference is that the refs already have difficulty getting one kind of pass interference right (or at least to the satisfaction of people like us). Introducing more subjectivity would only create more problems. Limiting it to half the distance to the goal would lessen the damage done by iffy calls, provide a reasonable scoring opportunity to the offended team, and fit neatly with the rules that already apply to every other penalty.

by SteveNC (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:58pm

Re 33:

The half-the-distance PI ruling is interesting but I think it would be a problem (as stated above) when it's 1st and goal already, especially at the end of the half. With :06 left and 1st and goal at the 10 with the offensive team needing a TD to tie, for example, this rule would give a very strong incentive for defensive PI in the end zone if the defender was at all beaten.

Why not change the rule to two possible calls for passes longer than 15 yards: "minor PI" (15-yard penalty or half the distance to the goal and automatic first down), and "major PI" (penalized as PI is now). There would still be official's judgment involved, but at least it would not be the all-or-nothing call it is now.

by Kurt (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 4:59pm

The obvious answer on PI calls is to make it a two-level penalty, like facemasks - spot foul for muggings and 5/10 yds and auto 1st down for incidental plays like the one last night.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:02pm

Re 90:
Why does anyone think that goal to goal situations would be any different with that rule? Every other penalty is like that when it's that close and you don't see a ton of defensive holding, guys creaming receivers, etc.

by Kurt (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:03pm

whoops - beaten to the punch

by muddy waters (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:06pm

On GB's first drive, on 3rd-and-10, Ware was called offsides, but iwatch the play again and you'll see that Ware didn't cross the line until after the ball was moved. That call basically kept the Packers drive alive and led to the game's first three points. But no one wants to talk about that call I guess.

Tramon Williams grabbed Miles Austin with both of his hands - one on the shoulder, followed by one on the arm - then he ran up the back of him.... how is that NOT pass interference?

And I think it's fine that roughing the kicker (or running into) wasn't called because if you look at it, it's not entirely clear that the player wasn't blocked into McBriar.

And while TO's non-turnover shouldn't have been whistled dead, it's not entirely clear that TO stopped fighting for the ball because he heard the play blown dead - it's possible that without the play blown dead he would have held onto the ball until out of bounds.

And in recent weeks Flozell Adams single-handedly shut down Trent Cole and Osi Umenyiora: I seriously doubt that KGB would have fared better than those two pro-bowl candidates.

And no one, not one of the talking sports heads on TV, gave Dallas anything close to a pass when they played New England without Anthony Henry (or the first Giants game without Newman and Ellis) - so why do the Pack get a pass from so many for not having Woodson?

by Jaws (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:08pm

I myself am very surprised Dallas' defense gave up almost 30 points to a banged up Packer team -on the road. That cant eb a good sign for Dallas. If Favre doesn't throw those 2 interceptions ... who knows?

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:24pm

Re: Rodgers - was telling the only Packers fan in the redneck bar last night that Rodgers looked pretty good, and that if Favre was ok, I'd still leave Rodgers in as he was moving the chains while Favre was chucking picks. Too early to tell, but Rodgers performance last night should give cheeseheads some cheer. I'm always excited to see a young quarterback (of the non-Cowboy variety) play well and surprise people.

And where did that Packer's running game come from? On the 60+ yard TD run by Grant the Dallas safeties were all the way up on the line of scrimmage! Grant ran right between them if I recall.

by Lance Williams (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:25pm

Regarding Bryant Gumbel, He was terrible last year. Do any of you think he would improve in the offseason. When I watch games, I am too focused on the action and not the announcers. The only time I hear them is if they say something that is completely stupid. Other than that, they are merely background noise.

by Kyle S (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:33pm

re 90:

Did you forget that a half cannot end on a defensive penalty? And if, in the unlikely event it were done repeatedly, it could raise the specter of officials invoking the "palpably unfair act" rule.

by Lance (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:42pm

Re 95: Isn't it sort of banal to argue that if Favre hadn't thrown those picks, GB may have won? I mean, sure. But if Dallas had picked off Rodgers a few times, it wouldn't have been nearly as close.

by FavreFan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:45pm

Hello all - new to the site, love the intelligent banter.

Packer fans have no reason to whine about the officiating, we got beat by a better team last night.

I was a bit encourage in that u can count on 1 hand the guys that played well, (Arodge, jennings, pickett, cros - with virtually every other player on the roster struggling) and we were still in it at the end. I'm a huge Al Harris fan, but he was simply lost last night - I'm giving him a mulligan. It's important to note that if Woodson is healthy then TO is motioning to him in the slot, rather than Walker, so that was a huge loss.

As for game plan/favre's play - I really think the gameplan was to attack downfield, but Brett needs to go to his 2nd and 3rd read in some of those spots. I truly believe brett thought he could just throw it over hamlin's head - which he probably saw being done on tape. Adjustments will be made if we meet in the NFC 'ship, and I think Brett will learn from his poor performance.

Props to the Dallas o-line - they looked as good as any I can remember seeing in a long time. Would be interested to see how well Flozell plays if he has to face KGB next time.

As for Hawk, I've felt he has been overrated all year, as he gets eaten up by TEs in coverage. Interesting note regarding AJ having to help safeties, but if you look at tape of him 1-on-1 vs. TEs, he's been abused. He did make some plays last night, which is more than can be said for Barnett who was invisible for the first time this season.

Anyway, Dallas looked great all around but I think the Pack will give them a dogfight if they meet again.

by Xian (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:45pm

#94 - Not sure who the "so many" that you're referring to giving the Packers a pass are. Sure, I think that in a rematch, if both teams were healthy, it'd be a tossup. But I'm a Packers homer.

If you're talking about reporters/websites, I can't say for certain, but (not to be inflammatory) perhaps their individual views of the two games saw the Packers as more competitive with the Cowboys than they saw the Cowboys vs. the Patriots? That, or Harris & KGB were being viewed as subjectively more important to the Packers D than Henry to the Dallas D.

#96 - Can't tell if you're being serious or not. Since he has been starting (the last 5 games), and not counting last night, Grant has 3 games over 100 yards, 1 game close to 100 (88 yards), and he had 55 vs. the Chiefs.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:46pm

Re: 89

I'm not entirely sure that the problem is that PI penalties are subjective. I think the problem is that if a ref subjectively decides that the contact is a little more than incidental they have no choice but to award a spot-foul. The problem is in the all-or-nothing nature of the current rule not in the penalized yardage.

If a DB gets beat deep and intentionally interferes with the receiver inside the 5 yardline in order to prevent a TD, that should be a spot-foul.

And you're wrong in thinking that PIs are the only spot-foul in football. Block in the back penalties on kick returns can be just as harsh as PIs.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:48pm

Grant did run 13 other times for a grand total of 32 yards. And he got nothin' but nothin' on same lame screen passes.

Jennings should have been the featured offensive player last night. Just as the Cowboys schemed to get TO in space GB should have done the same with Jennings. I know McCarthy wants to think all of his receivers are equally capable but matching up Koren Robinson against the hapless Lions is one thing, the Cowboys something else.

It was a group effort last night in being dumb, not the least of which by a guy who has been around for 137 years and should know better.


by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:51pm

"If a DB gets beat deep and intentionally interferes with the receiver inside the 5 yardline in order to prevent a TD, that should be a spot-foul."

Why should it be a spot foul when its only 5 yards if the DB knocks the WR down before the ball is thrown?

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 5:54pm

My previous comment was not a criticism of Grant. It was an indictment of an offensive line that didn't move anyone last night. Even on the big run that was Grant squeezing through a tight space and sprinting past the safeties.

Someone earlier in the week made a Charlie Garner comparison and that run was CLASSIC Garner. Grant almost disappeared only to show up in the secondary.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:09pm

I think the officiating was poor and the Packers took the brunt of it, although Dallas played better and deserved to win the game.

1) The non-turnover when Al Harris stripped TO was a possible game changing play. The Packers would have had the ball in good field position and perhaps been in position to go up 10-0 as opposed to ultimately being tied 3-3, and then in that scenario perhaps we would have seen Favre play within the offense and not have seen so much of Brain Fart Brett.

That play did also cause us to waste a challenge which also came into play later.

2) The pass interference call was touchy and was not blatant - I'm biased, so I don't think it should have been called because it put Dallas right on the doorstep. If the official had immediately thrown a flag for it instead of having a second guy run in and have a 15-second discussion about it, I would have been less offended by the play.

3) The Packers got screwed on the spot that led to the 4 & 1 52-yard FG - unfortunately, we were out of challenges and couldn't review it.

Otherwise, Dallas played better than I gave them credit for on the offensive line and got great pass rush with their front four, while the Packers couldn't protect Favre or Rodgers and couldn't get anywhere near Romo.

The injuries were a major factor but that's life in the NFL. Dallas was healthy, they were home, they got most of the calls, and they played better - that's pretty tough to beat.

The good news is that the game that really counts is in two months, and hopefully the Packers will be better prepared this time around.

The only other point is that the Packers need to commit earlier in the game to running the ball, or eliminate the play action pass from the offense. Nobody is going to bite on play fakes late in the first quarter when you've handed the ball off twice all game - all the play action does is give the pass rush more time to get there and take the running back out of position to pick up a block.

by billsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:10pm

91 et al:

The problem with the spot foul regardless of field position is that it's based on the assumption that the catch was inevitable if there weren't interference, which makes no sense. The best receiver this season in catch % is Wes Welker at 79%. Most other starting receivers seem to be in the 55-65% range. It's a gift to the offense who, having been denied a single 60% chance at scoring, is given instead four chances from the one-yard line. Green Bay was hit with 40- and 42-yard penalties last night. Was either pass interference more than twice as bad as a facemask? Twice as bad as a face-stomping?


Indeed, kick-return penalties based on the assumption that the runner would have not gotten farther without an illegal block/hold are harsh (especially when it's well away from the runner), but they still never give the return team the ball on their own one-yard line, nor do they cause the sort of outrage that PI calls tend to. My problem with the spot-foul inside the five is that you're giving the offense four good scoring chances for having been denied one not-quite-as-good scoring chance.

by erebia (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:10pm

95 i guess you were surprised when an A.J. Feely led Eagles squad hung 28 on the Patriots also...please, just stop the silliness dude and listen to yourself...people have been making excuses of why they lost or why the Cowboys will lose all year...and you never hear anything about injuries are less than 100 percent players...Phillips approach is NO EXCUSES...excuses are for losers...

by Kevin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:18pm

107 - of course you don't hear Dallas complaining about injuries. With the exception of Ferguson and Terry Glenn, the Cowboys are amazingly healthy for this late in the year. Same with the Patriots, who just got their first major injury of the season in Colvin (although they started the season a little banged up and played through it)

But, that's life and a lot of time who survives in January and February is dictated by who can stay healthy.

Nobody whined when Anthony Henry or Terence Newman were out because Dallas has three NFL caliber corners. The reason the Woodson injury killed the Packers so badly is because our other defensive backs just aren't that good.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:20pm

Hmm, I looked up the PI rule, and I'm a little confused. First, ignore the catchable issue: I think it's pretty clear it was catchable, but in either case no one ever calls that anyway. So anyway, one section of the rule says that

(b) Inadvertent tangling of feet when both players are playing the ball or neither player is playing the ball.

is NOT PI. But the DB was not looking back for the ball at all. Ok, so that looks like PI. But then take a look at Note 1:
If there is any question whether player contact is incidental, the ruling should be no interference.

Makes no mention about looking back for the ball.

by erebia (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:21pm

105 who makes the difference on defense?...KGB versus Adams? How many pro bowl D Ends does the Dallas oline have to face for the message to get through?...Woodson would've helped but without quarterback pressure it won't matter...Harris is good but his play is trashy and overblown...and it was pretty clear Dallas went after him...and don't think that the Cowboys are done with them...they want to play the GB defense at full speed and especially with Woodson...and maybe Dallas will have Terry Glenn by then...the problem with the Packers was the Guards and the Safeties...they were horrible...Owens ran away from the entire defense...that and little quarterback pressure...bellyache about penalties as you like...Dallas won this game on both sides of the ball...

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:22pm

Oh, and since someone mentioned this, I linked a picture of that Ware Offsides. I'm not really pissed about it getting called on this play, exactly... more about it getting called repeatedly by officials when really I've never seen Ware ACTUALLY jump off sides. The guy just gets as good a jump off the ball as anyone I've ever seen. I hope phillips or someone sends the tape to the league office so they can inform their officials.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:29pm

Erebia -

I don't disagree with you. I said that Dallas played better, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines.

But, watching the Packer defense all year, it's a significantly different defense when Charles Woodson is on the field. Is it a good enough defense to shut the Cowboys down? No, but it would certainly be better than the Chinese fire drill the secondary put on last night.

Also, the combined loss of Jolly and KGB on the defensive line definitely had an impact because aside from the corners, the other major strength of the defense is the quality depth of the defensive line rotation. Remember, KGB allows Jenkins to move inside on passing down and magnify the pressure. The line couldn't get any pressure on Romo early and faded down the stretch with the inability to stop Barber in the fourth quarter.

Bottom line - Dallas deserved to win the game, and they're a better team than I had given them credit for going in.

But, the Packers certainly didn't get any help from their injury situation and they didn't get any help from the officials.

Does Dallas deserve to be a reasonably heavy favorite if/when we meet again in January? Absolutely. Do I think the Packers can go into Dallas and win in two months? Absolutely.

by FavreFan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:35pm

The reason the Woodson injury is so significant is because of the scheme the Packers run. The whole Packer defense is predicated on having two physical corners that can disrupt routes long enough for a 4 or 5 man rush to get to the QB. Without Woodson, the glaring weaknesses of the other young DBs are exposed.

105 - good point about the Al Harris strip having the potential to completely altering the game. AH clearly had a hand on the ball before TO landed, and began wrestling with him immediately. What if the ball was fumbled rather than completely stolen? I'm 99% sure the refs would have let the play go if that was the case.

108 - Good point about Dallas being incredibly healthy. It is quite rare to have virtually all your starters still intact this late in the year.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:36pm

The real interesting question will be how the Packers handle the Favre injury for next week. If it wasn't for the streak, I think it would be a no brainer to sit Favre for a week and let Rodgers have the start.

1) They're playing Oakland at home, which should be a winnable game regardless of who plays QB.

2) It would be another showcase for Rodgers - let's face it, if Favre comes back next season (and barring health issues it certainly looks like he should), you have to trade Rodgers in the offseason. With last night's game on his resume, letting him showcase his skills in a start could help lay the foundation for them to make a Matt Schaub type trade to one of the myriad of teams that need a QB this offseason.

3) Giving Favre an extra week to rest the arm and make sure it gets as healthy as it can get, given that we're essentially locked into the #2 seed now, makes a lot of sense.

I guess the only question is whether McCarthy can get Favre to go along with it.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:38pm

It's a pretty d*mning indictment of the defensive coaching staff that the secondary looked so disorganized. Particularly since these are the guys who actually PRACTICE since Woodson and Harris get to play tiddlywinks on the sidelines while everyone else walks through drills.

That was as poor an execution of a zone defense as I have seen from a Packer team since the late days of Mike Sherman's Death March. When multiple times you have opposing receivers 20 plus yards downfield just STANDING THERE waiting for a pass you have issues. That is inexcusable. Nobody should be that open that a db couldn't close on the play and prevent the completion.

At least Ahmad Carroll would have been there to wrap up the receiver early and get a LEGIT PI call.

ha, ha......

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:40pm

118. This is all true about the injuries. I don't exactly know how, but Dallas has been very fortunate injury-wise dating back to the year Parcells took over. Some say it's the conditioning and the easier practices, but I'm not so sure it's not just luck.

And yes, the Packers would have been a tougher opponent if they had Woodson and KGB, but I don't know if that would have been enough yesterday. The line was just playing too well for them to have that much of an effect. In the future, in the playoffs? Sure, I think GB will be the hardest matchup for us in the NFC.

Oh, and we did lose Jason Ferguson in the beginning of the year, although I don't think we're missing him that much. Obviously, Terry Glenn never really was a factor this year, although there's talk he's getting closer to returning. We'll have to see if he has anything left in the tank. And Henry/Newman have not started together yet this season, I think. Each missed I believe 5 games, each at different times in the year. And they're still hobbled. Still, a pretty good record as far as injuries go.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:41pm


Trade Rodgers? That's crazy talk.

Dude, this is the NFL where guys are indentured servants until "The Man" says otherwise.

With each passing year it's more likely that Favre either A)suffers a catastrophic injury or B)drives off the career cliff. You gotta have option B hanging around.

Trade Rodgers? Daft I tell you. Daft.......

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:44pm

119. It's funny that use Matt Schaub of all people as an example where that case there might be the example of why you don't want to trade a quality back up.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:48pm

Badger -

Rodgers is in the third year of a five year contract. If Favre comes back next year, that's year four, and then what?

If Favre retires after 2008, you have a starting QB in the last year of his contract, so you probably have to give him a pretty healthy extension purely on spec. If Favre thinks he can play in 2009, then Rodgers will have spent the entirety of his contract sitting on the bench.

I'm not saying give Rodgers away, but if you can get the deal the Falcons got for Matt Schaub (move up in the first round plus two second round picks), it makes sense to at least consider making the trade and drafting another quarterback somewhere along the way.

The Packers did it with Brunell, Brooks, and Hasselbeck - Aaron Rodgers would just be the next in line.

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:49pm

Re: 106

If the block in the back occurs on a punt inside the 5 yardline (no entirely impossible, all it'd take was an ill-advised non-fair catch) and then returned for a TD, that would be a 95 yard penalty. When was the last time you saw a 95 yard? And I've seen it suggested many times that penalties on kick returns should also be a two-tier system so that big returns aren't completely negated by something that happened away from the play.

I'm still not quite sure why you'd argue against awarding a spot-foul for egregious interference? Do you really think that an offense who's WR gets tackled inside the 5 on a 40 yard bomb should only be granted a 20 yard penalty?

What if we combine the two ideas? If egregious interference occurs anywhere on the field, a spot-foul is awarded. If non-egregious interference occurs less than half the distance to the goal, a spot-foul is awarded. If non-egregious interference occurs more than half the distance to the goal, half the distance to the goal is awarded.

by Pippin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:49pm

116: Woah. I guess the angle makes it a little challenging, but it kind of looks like Ware got about the best jump you could possibly get on a snap... starts moving at the exact moment the ball does. Impressive.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:49pm


The Packers got away with trading Mark Brunell only because Favre was the better qb and has stayed healthy. But Favre ain't no 26 anymore. Dude is older than dirt.

Trading Rodgers is the furthest thing from Ted Thompson's mind. Well, that and smiling........

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:50pm

Obviously that should have been "Re: 111". Unless of course I'm arguing with myself.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:53pm


No, no, no. And no.

As I alluded to in the post being written as you were posting, the circumstances were VERY different with those guys. Favre was both better AND YOUNGER. Now he's better but he ain't young.

So you pay. If he doesn't play you pay LESS since what does he use as leverage other than some sporadic appearances?

Based on the track record it's pretty clear that Thompson and McCarthy have a clue about player development/assessment. If Rodgers can play he will stay because finding someone to take the snap on a competent basis is just too d*mn hard to give some guy away.

Just ask the Falcons. Or the Bears and their rotating qbs. Or the Vikings. Or elventeen other teams.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:55pm

Temo -

True - the Falcons got caught with their pants down this season, but there's a price for everything.

The issue is that due to Favre's retirement indecision and subsequent resurgence, Rodgers has a real chance of being a completely wasted draft pick. If you can get real value in trading him, then you at least have to consider it.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:57pm

The only way I could see an Aaron Rodgers trade is if your personnel people feel like yesterday was just an aberration wrought by a team that wasn't game planning for his specific style and they could perform some highway robbery on some QB-starved team (of which there's plenty).

by Wanker79 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:58pm

Re: 129

If he doesn't play and you offer him less, why the hell would he stick around since you can almost guarantee that some team somewhere would pay him decently? And if he does leave as a free agent, you've just wasted a 1st round pick's entire rookie contract with absolutely nothing to show for it and no viable option to replace Favre.

by Kevin (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 6:59pm

Badger -

If Thompson has proven anything, it's that draft picks are golden currency in his mind.

If you can rake a team over the coals and get a bundle of draft picks for Rodgers, you have to consider making the deal.

I wouldn't trade him for a fourth round pick, but if you can get three first day picks for the kid, then you can't ignore that.

If nobody places that kind of value on him, then by all means hold onto him.

Also, make no mistake - I think the QB that follows Brett Favre in Green Bay is almost destined to fail. It's not easy to fill the shoes of a legend.

by MikeJ (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:05pm

Aaron says: "What the hell are you talking about? This is the exact same team as it was six games ago!!!...
If the Cowboys beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, they’re going to do it with the same players that lost to the Patriots in the regular season.

Seems to me that Anthony Henry and Tank Johnson are pretty significant players. Getting Terry Glenn back for the playoffs isn't totally out of the question either.

by FullmoonoverTulsa (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:14pm

114 - I think the PI was based on the hand on the shoulder. At full speed, I thought it looked like a pretty good grab, and PI. It looked less severe in slo mo. Of course, I think they need to show more replays in general in full speed.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:20pm


My point being is that the Packers should be able to match an offer and will WANT to match an offer IF they think he can play.

Thompson is a miser but when needed will have spending "spasms" such as the big signing bonus to Charles Woodson. Which has paid off so far.

It's just after watching every other team in the division fumble around most of the past 17 years trying to find a regular QB I am loathe to have one leave no matter the circumstances.

The dream scenario is that the Packers win something of consequence soon so that Number 4 can leave with peace of mind and Rodgers can step in with a mostly complete team around him.

Won't happen. Favre is The Highlander. Brian Urlacher's son will likely be the one to finally vanquish him in 2030 in front of 473,113 screaming fans at the Devin Hester Thunderdome..........

by thechop5 (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:25pm

Okay wow a lot of stuff to comment on here.

First of all, that strip was a bad call, but they had ruled the balll dead before so it was the correct one in that instance.

The PI's were both correct (IMO), both were catchable and the Miles Austin would have been a TD. I disagree with you guys that the rule needs to change. If Austin isn't touched thats a 50 yard score. The DB was beat but interfered. You can't only give Dallas 15 yards on that, it should be a TD! Thats way to much incentive to mug all of the receivers on deep passes. Also many of the suggested changes make things even more complicated, do you really want the refs to make more selective calls? If we can't even agree on what was/wasn't PI how will we agree on whats major/minor PI? And also the catch rate doesn't matter. That includes balls that can't be caught (over/underthrown, lead to much)and passes that are defensed. I would say Miles Austin catches that ball 80-90 percent of the times as would most NFL receivers.

ALso, I think everyone is overlooking the fact that Dallas made so many mistakes. If TO catches that easy TD pass Dallas wins by 17. If Ellis doesn't facemask on that 3rd down sack its 21. If TO doesn't drop that ball on the second possession its first down at the GB 20. If Romo hits a wide open Witten they had 30 yards and would have been in FG range. Dallas could have had another 3 points (FG) when they went for it on 4th down, and gave the ball to JJ instead of Barber. JJ was 1/2 a yard short. Dallas had 3 possessions inside the 10 where they got only 6 points. Good luck hoping for that again. Bottom line, Dallas killed themselves with mistakes. On a good day they win by 30 in that game. But all you here about is if the Packers had played better they would win. Well, yeah, but the Boys could have played A LOT better. Lets give credit to both sides and not act like this was Dallas' best game. Of course GB could win if they play again, no doubt they are a good team. But as long as the game is in Irving and the 'Boys play like they usually do, I'll take the Boys and I don't think it'll be that close.

Also, someone said there are bandwagon Cowboy fans. Of course there are, in every state, but other teams are just as bad. At the sports bar I go to in the Bay Area, the two biggest fanbases are the Pats and Packers, and many of the Pats fans are horrible there. And just cause someone lives in a different state, doesn't make them a Bandwagon. Look at me. ;)

Finally, Aaron, others, you're wrong in thinking that Dallas has had no injuries and are the same team as the Pats game. They didn't have Henry (who still isn't 100 %), Tank (missed 8 games), Glenn (if he comes back), won't have Ferguson, Ellis missed 4 games and wasn't 100% for the Pats game, Newman missed games and has been hobbled (definitely during the Pats game),and Crayton missed a game. Not a ton of injuries, but not amazingly healthy. I know theres a lot of Cowboys hate on here, but this just isn't true.

by FavreFan (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:37pm

re: 137

Personally, my comment re: cowboys being healthy was just based on this game. The ferguson injury was mitigated by the Tank signing (which wouldnt have happened if Ferg was healthy). Also, if Glenn is in there does Austin get any PT? Can Ms. Glenn still move like that? Anyway, the Pack had been incredibly healthy as well up until last week.

Great point about the fact that Dallas left a lot on the field. There is no question the Pack were completely over-matched last night.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:38pm

Most of the stuff so far has been fair and impartial, chop. There are plenty of cowboys haters, but usually most of the cowboy haters on this site are pretty impartial. In fact, unless you ask about a Pats issue, you'll get about 95% fair and balanced arguments not driven by irrational hatred or homer-ism like you would on other sites.

Also, I would argue against Ellis not being 100% for that pats game. His missing time was more holding out for money than it was for injury.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:40pm

138. Up until a couple weeks ago, Miles Austin was most known for making tackles on kick coverage. He wasn't even returning kicks. So a healthy Glenn I'm thinking is an upgrade over Austin. She can still move with the best of them, at least last year.

by Packer Pete (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:40pm

Pass interference and illegal contact calls could be cut sizeably if the league instructed the refs to consider two items. One, the defensive player has a right to his position on the field. If the defender has inside position and the receiver cuts inside and bumps the defender, it's not illegal contact as the defender has a right to his position. Two, if the receiver alters his route to chase a poorly thrown ball, such as a receiver on a fly route suddenly slowing for an underthrown ball and drawing contact from a DB, then it's not interference. Sure, it's more judgment calls, but at least the refs get some leeway to say that while contact occurred, it's not necessarily illegal contact.

What worries me most about last night's game is how Dallas dominated both the offensive and defensive lines. That's not a quick fix for Green Bay, and KGB isn't gonna swing the balance in favor of Green Bay. Next season, the zone blocking scheme should be scrapped and a few big boys should be signed or drafted with the purpose of putting helmets on helmets, not hiking the ball, having the whole line run laterally and hoping the running back can get through a crack.

by Costa (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:48pm

"And just cause someone lives in a different state, doesn’t make them a Bandwagon. Look at me. ;)"


by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 7:53pm

"Two, if the receiver alters his route to chase a poorly thrown ball, such as a receiver on a fly route suddenly slowing for an underthrown ball and drawing contact from a DB, then it’s not interference."

Thats the one I see most often: Balls where the DB has better position than the WR, and runs into the DB, and gets the flag.

by Herm? (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 8:25pm

PI should be automatically reviewed if results in more than X yards (20 yards?) or more than Z % (50%?) closer to the end zone.

Costa, I liked your point about how the PI rule isn't what needs to change, and that the root issue is that it needs to be called correctly and consistently. There is mail from Doug Farrar in the article that says it should be discussed at the competition committee that it should be reviewable. (so I guess there is no original thought on my part)

You can usually weed out the out-of- state Dallas bandwagoners by asking their favorite baseball team. Try it sometime...about 1 in 4 will say Yankees. You can immediately dismiss them (and despite the temptation please don't hit them with a bottle, but rather you should plead with them to stop watching sports altogether)

PS: Congrats to the Pats fans who didn't jump on Kevin's ticking timebomb at 113.

by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 8:58pm

PS: Congrats to the Pats fans who didn’t jump on Kevin’s ticking timebomb at 113.

Hmm, I was just about to... :-) I was about to argue that the Pats first major injury was probably Morris, not Colvin, since in hindsight it was pretty clear that he was intended to be the feature back, and Maroney the change of pace back.

And you’re wrong in thinking that PIs are the only spot-foul in football. Block in the back penalties on kick returns can be just as harsh as PIs.

I don't really see that. MOST ref crews are pretty good about not calling block in the back penalties unless they affected the play--i.e. the blocked guy had no opportunity to make a tackle, when he otherwise would have. Subjectively, I think the odds of someone getting blocked in the back in a called penalty being hypothetically able to stop a long runback are greater than an interfered with WR being able to catch a long ball a lot of the time when PI is called.

Thank you, I'll be murdering grammar all week. But you know what I mean.

Here's a completely different idea. It would change the nature of the game, but maybe would be fairer and eaiser to call. What if there WAS no PI, either defensive or offensive. I.e. you can't HOLD anyone running downfield, but you can bump them as much as you want, and they can bump you. DB's can check or shove the WR, WR's can push off. It would put a premium on bigger and stronger DB's and WR's, and maybe lead to more injuries, but it could be fun to watch...

by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 9:34pm

Did anyone else hear that lovely bit of commentary from Collinsworth in the middle of the 2nd quarter?

"Demarcus Ware ... what a tool he is"

by stravinsky (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 10:09pm

I'm showing my age here but my recollection was that back in the early 80's, if the defender touched the receiver at all while the ball was in the air then it was pass interference.

As a result, minor contact that occured as the defender tried to knock the pass down got called PI which was frustrating because in many cases the contact was good defense not PI. Even worse, it didn't matter if ball hit the receiver in the numbers or was 20 rows up in the stands, any contact was a penalty.

That's when the "Uncatchable Ball" rule interpretation was added. The whole point of it was that if the pass was clearly way overthrown or way out of bounds and was clearly impossible for the receiver to catch then the defensive player touching the receiver was not PI.

In any case, the PI rule back then was very restrictive on the defense and basically created a situation that when the ball was thrown, the receiver had to be left alone to make the catch. That was a big part of why so many QB's threw for tons of yards back then, the defense basically could do nothing but let the receiver catch the ball unless they could break it up without touching the receiver in any way. Even if the pass was underthrown and the receiver had to stop to catch it, it was the defender's job to avoid the receiver.

Then about 1986 or so, the rule was reinterpreted to say that when the ball was in the air, it was anybody's ball - the defender had as much right to the ball as the receiver. That's when I recall the concept of "Incidental Contact" being introduced to regulate that when the ball was in the air and the defender and receiver were battling for the ball, any contact was incidental and should not be PI. This was very different from what the rules had been prior to then.

That rule interpretation worked pretty well until defenders learned that as long as they pretended to be "playing the ball" they could pretty much mug the receiver and it wouldn't be called PI. That was where the notion of "looking back at the ball" became common terminology. By lookingback towards the LOS as the pass was in the air, the defender made it look like he was playing the ball as he ran right up and over the receiver. Because he was "playing the ball", he avoided the PI flag. And since then ,we've had PI rule interpretations on top of PI rule interpreations leading to the problem where it's now almost impossible to tell PI.

by FullmoonoverTulsa (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 10:22pm

I thought it was pathetic at the end when Gumbel and Collinsworth started looking for reasons to turn this game into “the Cowboys can beat the Patriots.�

Is it such an affront to reason to suggest that a team may actually beat the Patriots? Nobody is suggesting the Cowboys are better, but they have as good a chance as anyone.

by thepainster (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 10:38pm

OK Packer backers, the VP of officiating Mike Pirrera, just made a ruling on the two worst calls in the game last night on NFL Total Access.

The Harris strip of the ball from TO, he basically said the line judge ruled forward progress and at that point the play was dead and not reviewable. But, he said he would not have ruled it that way himself and would have called it a catch and a strip. IE, Packers got screwed.

On the second PI call where the legs got tangled, he said this was PI because when the defender made contact he was not looking at the ball. If he would have been looking at the ball it would have been ruled incidental contact. He said nothing about the ball being non-catchable.

There you have it. Tough break on the first call, but the second PI seemed legit.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 11:22pm

149. Ya, I thought as much about the PI, reading the rule book made it pretty clear. Still doesn't mean that PI isn't a broken rule though.

by vijay (not verified) :: Fri, 11/30/2007 - 11:48pm

Re 137:

Great points. I think the Cowboys left somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 points on the table in that game - the TO "should have been a TD" drop, and a FG instead of going for it on 4th and 2 late in the 2nd quarter. Plus, the Cowboys completely backed off and let Rodgers try to beat coverage instead of rushing the passer. I believe that was a poor strategy and is probably the type you might be able to take advantage of against a younger QB (which they won't play in the playoffs). So I think the pressure will come back in future games.

The Packers clearly had injury issues but I just don't think they would have been able to stop the Cowboys. I think the Cowboys have a dynamic offense and you'll have to outscore them to beat them. Romo showed that he might be the 3rd best QB in the league behind the Brady/Manning combo.

I agree that I thought that the TO/Harris call on the 1st offensive play of the game was weird. I didn't think Harris had control of the ball going out, but I do think that should have been reviewed and probably an incompletion and not a reception for TO.

As an unabashed Cowboy fan who tries to be a reasoned fan, my thought is that the Cowboys are clearly above the rest of the NFC. I think they can hang with even a healthy Colts team but still have a ways to go to reach Pats level. But this game showed me that if they can put up 37 against a decent defense (I say decent because of injuries only, when healthy, they're pretty good) and make as many mistakes as they did, then if they play a PERFECT game, they can beat the Pats. BUt unfortunately, they will have to be PERFECT to pull it off.

Either way, as a Cowboy fan, it's been a long dark 10 years so I'm thrilled that we're back and playing great again! So Go COWBOYS!

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 1:49am

Just wanted to say that post 137 was mine> Sorry, I post under that name on baseball boards. Not trying to gloat just want to take credit for such a long post! That was my longest one ever on FO!!! :)

Bandwagon.... yeah well... tell that to me when we're 6-10 again!!!! And I absolutely HATE the Yankees!!! Way more than any other team in any other sport!!! ;)

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 2:43am

You can touch the receiver when the ball is in the air so long as it doesn't disrupt the receiver. A soft hand on the shoulder is legal contact. He didn't push, twist, turn, hold or in any other disrupt the route. You don't have to be looking at the ball to do this and the it did not. Trules specificaly state this.

The rules state that legs getting tangled is not PI unless it was obvious tripping.

Finally, the rule book specificaly states that if there is any doubt at all about if PI happened or not, it must be ruledhat is, there must be indisputable evidence that PI happened, without a shred of doubt, for it to be called.

That last PI wasn't PI at all. The contact was legal, the leg entanglement was legal and there certainly is some doubt if it was PI or not. Therefore PI cannot be called. We're not even sure of the ball was catchable and the rules also state that if a ball potentially wasn't catchable, then it isn't PI. It must be indisputable that the receiver would have caught the ball had the infraction not occured.

Lastly, I don't think it mattered because Green Bay couldn't stop the Dallas offense at all. But it was still the wrong call and it happened at a terrible time. Dallas and Green Bay fans were robbed of a well called game. And Dallas had some calls that were garbage, such as Ware's offsides. He wasn't.

by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 2:52am

Ned Macey's description of the game (one QB has all the time in the world and the other is getting hit constantly) perfectly describes the last Giants-Cowboys matchup. However, instead of recognizing that, most of the NY media used it to rake Eli over the coals. And the was before the Minnesota debacle.

For all the weapons and the Jason Garrett talk, the difference in this Cowboys team is it's lineplay on both sides of the ball. I knew the Cowboys were going to score on the Packers. Their secondary is overrated and the real strength of the defense (deep, talented d-line) has been weakened the past few weeks. They still have enough talent left to stop most good offenses in the league.

by FullMoonOverTulsa (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 3:28am

153- I didn't see it as a soft hand on the shoulder, and definitely thought the ball was catchable. You sure speak with lots of authority though.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 7:09am

Oh and nice post vijay. I completely agree. Especially the last part!!! :)

by mush (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 8:33am

On many plays Romo is getting extra time because he's so good at sliding in the pocket, finding a lane and an extra second. Talk about a skill that Bledsoe (and many others) never had. Brady, Marino, all the greats can do this to some extent. Romo's basketball skills, understanding of spacing, probably help a lot in this area.

Re: 14, I hear you, that "it would appear" recording with Gumbel drove me batty, as well. I remember loathing Gumbel's work on PBP last year and thinking "surely he'll shake off the rust and improve next time around." Okay, maybe not.

by thepainster (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 10:02am

Nathan Z, Please refer to my post 149. The NFL VP of officiating, Mike Pereira (sorry I spelled his name wrong earlier) said on NFL Total Access that it was PI. It obvious from your post you know more about the rules than the NFL VP of officiating. Thus I have sent a copy of your post to Mike, and he has decided to void the results of Thursday nights game. The game will be replayed sometime in the future in your honor.

by matt millen's brain (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 10:38am

I've long thought that w/r/t pass interference, the egregious vs non-egregious distinction makes sense (like in the case of face mask calls). I think it would make more sense to combine the college rule (for more incidental plays) where the penalty is 15 yards (irrespective of field position), and make the blatant cases, with a high bar being set before a case is considered blatant, spot fouls? Sure, it's one more judgment call but IMO it would be an improvement over the offense gaining 40 yards of field position on questionable calls.

by JDog (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 12:32pm

RE 149. Look at NFL.com on the videos section (official review). Mike Pereira explains well why the PI should have been called in that instance. Perhaps the rule should be changed, but the call was correct given the current rule.

It was debatable whether it might have been uncatchable. However, it certainly wasn't "clearly" uncatchable. It landed a couple of yards beyond where the receiver landed after falling, but it isn't obvious if he would have been able to reach it if he had been unimpeded.

by Duane (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 2:36pm

Forgive me if this has been addressed already, but there's a way to at least diminish the impact of inconsistent PI calls: Instead of spot-of-the-foul ball placement, how about half the distance to the goal, or half the distance to the spot of the foul? That would still be significant, but eliminate the all-but-guaranteed scoring after a PI call close to the goal line.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 3:04pm

Guys, at this point it has become painfully obvious that Pereira's job is to justify ref calls after the fact, looking for any minimally plausible reason why a controversial call might, just might, have been correct as called. The good thing is that he is pretty fair in how he calls things with respect to any team, and the bad thing is that his goal is simply to cover the referee's ass.

If one goes picking nits in super-slo-mo on all long pass plays, one can easily find that a good fraction have contact before the ball gets there with the defender not looking at the ball. It's absolutely impossible for two big guys to run top speed next to each other converging on the same point without touching. That means that almost every PI call can be justified somehow in retrospect (this one, Hobbs's in Indy-Pats, etc). But since this "minimal contact" standard is not applied consistently, or for that matter even relatively often, when it is it is inherently unfair, unless the NFL puts out a memo that says that from now on it has to be called every time. Until they do, they are just putting the refs in situations is which, purposefully or not, they can arbitrarily affect the outcome of a game, and that's bad.

by Temo (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 3:16pm

162. How can you compare this PI call to Hobbs' PI? The DB in this one was clearly beat, didn't look back for the ball, and ended up tripping the player. The rulebook clearly says that's a PI. The ball by all accounts looks catchable. It's cut and dry.

And no, that does not mean the rule is fine. But the play was called correctly, and that's Pereira's only job.

by JDog (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 3:48pm

Re 62. We aren't talking about minimal, inconsequential contact. Intentional or not, his contact caused the receiver to fall to his face right before the ball arrived.

By the rules, interference is defined (in part) as:

Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch.

There is an exemption made for accidental tripping:

Inadvertent tangling of feet when both players are playing the ball or neither player is playing the ball (does not constitute pass interference).

However, in this case, the defender was NOT playing the ball, and the receiver WAS. Therefore, this exception doesn't apply. The correct call was made under the rules.

by Todd M. (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 4:40pm

Aaron Schatz: I thought it was pathetic at the end when Gumbel and Collinsworth started looking for reasons to turn this game into “the Cowboys can beat the Patriots.� They said about the Cowboys, “This is a far different team than the team of six games ago.� What the hell are you talking about? This is the exact same team as it was six games ago!!!
17 players started both this game and the game against the Pats, and other than Greg Ellis, the differences are based solely on what scheme Dallas was playing on the first play of each game (i.e. Fasano started against the Pats, Hoyte against the Packers). If the Cowboys beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, they’re going to do it with the same players that lost to the Patriots in the regular season.

While I agree that the announcers vastly overblew this storyline, two points have merit.

1) With a healthy Anthony Henry, Terence Newman can cover Wes Welker out of the slot (as opposed to Bradie James or Nate Jones).

2) Given that pressure is key against Brady, the Ellis progression from injury (a sack a game) is important.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 6:21pm

Oh man. I just saw a slow motion replay of Ware's offsides on the first side. He just got a ridiculous jump, but it wasn't offsides. This would have taken away the 3 points the packers got, and I think at least takes away the TO strip call, if not gives the edge to GB. And they still should have lost by 21.

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 6:46pm

The PI rules also state that you can only call PI if it is unquestionably PI in terms of contact being made. But the refs don't enforce it this way.

From the rules: "Note 1: If there is any question whether player contact is incidental, the ruling should be no interference."

Also: "(d) Laying a hand on a receiver that does not restrict the receiver in an attempt to make a play on the ball."

So, the hand on the shoulder shouldn't matter. He didn't grab the player at all. And it didn't look like he pushed or twisted or anything.

That leaves the feet. I think it is at least reasonably questionable if the feet entanglement was done as a trip or as incidental. Especially on a 60 yard pass where the receiver may have to adjust and slow down a step, causing both players to collide.

I think there is enough reason to not call PI on a 60 yard bomb because form that range, incidental contact becomes more and more likley. And since there might be some question as to if this contact was incidental or not, you have to rule no PI.

by Grant (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 7:05pm

The strength of Cullen Jenkins is that he can play the run outside and then rush the passer from the inside while KGB just pins his ears back. Losing KGB hurt both the inside and outside pass rush.

Trading Rodgers right now would be retarded IMO.

Sending Owens in motion took away the strength of Harris - literally. And the movement screwed with the younger DBs.

The Packers couldn't really send extra blitzers to help the ailing pass rush becasue of the secondary issues.

McCarthy seemed to take the blame for the deep passes, alluding to some things they had seen on tape. Either they had a game plan that was not effective or he was taking the blame for Favre's decisions.

I also wondered about the guy getting pushed into the punter. I don't think the announcers mentioned it and I didn't really get a good look at it. That is not a call that is usually missed.

For the first time this year, McCarthy may have been outcoached. Yes, he did a poor job in the second half of the Chicago game. But Phillips/Garrett seemed to have a good game plan.

I thought the Packers should have gone for it on 4th and one. You need a touchdown anyway. I would rather try the 4th and 1 from the 34 than have to make a 4th and 8 toward the end of the game. Also, if you get the touchdown and are unable to stop the opponent fromm kicking a field goal you are still only down one score, not two.

by FullMoonOverTulsa (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 7:12pm

167 - he wasn't playing the ball when the incidental contact occurred, the receiver was, so it is PI.

by Temo (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 9:16pm

167. I think the contact was incidental too. Expect it doesn't matter if it's incidental or not if you're not playing the ball.

The Rule says: "
Actions that constitute defensive pass interference include but are not limited to:
(a) Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch. "

Obviously the contact by the DB restricted the ability of the receiver to make a catch.

Now for the question of incidental contact:"Actions that do not constitute pass interference include but are not limited to:
(b) Inadvertent tangling of feet when both players are playing the ball or neither player is playing the ball."

So as you can see, in this case incidental contact does not apply because the DB was not looking back for the ball, and thus cannot be said to be playing the ball and not the receiver.

by JDog (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2007 - 11:11pm

RE 167: If you are going to go to the trouble of copying and pasting part of the rulebook, at least continue to read through the entire section on PI. Better yet, play the video explanation from Mike Pereira from NFL.com which clearly demonstrates why the PI call was correct under the current rules.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 2:44am

I agree with what 169, 170, 171 said. It was clearly PI under the current rules.

Also if anyone cares theres a link in my name (I think it should work) showing that Ware was not offsides on the fumble. Its on the 4th post down. I think its clear that though the officiating was bad, neither team was screwed much more than the other.

by Harris (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 2:45am

Mizzou down by 21 with less than two minutes to play. 4th-and-1 at their own 33. Why are you punting?

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 3:03am

The defender had his head up, looking at the ball. I think it can easily be argued he was playing the ball. Watching the video it even looks like the WR Watch the video:


Not to mention that ball wasn't going to be complete anyways. It landed a few yards ahead of the receiver and to his right and even without any contact I think it's legit to believe there was a chance it wasn't going to be caught.

My point is it isn't indisputable so therefore no call should have been made. This reffing crew leads the league in PI calls and is also the most unexperienced. The league as a whole doesn't know what PI is any longer.

by enderwiggins (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 3:27am

I came to this article to hopefully read insiteful analysis of the packers-cowboy game but instead i find a bunch of 13 year old girls whining about the world not being fair, we got a penalty, lets all cry, geesh i could get this on the emo blogs. This used to be a pretty good mans site about football, hopefully one day it will be again.
One point of interest to me would be that since the NFL is a huge copy cat league and they all copy the winning teams will everyone throw every down next year much like the patriots, colts, cowboys, and packers do.

by Temo (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 3:53am

174. Nope, not seeing the DB look back for the ball at all. Horrible quality video as well. Click my name for a much better version. Can't see anywhere where the DB looks back for the ball.
As for catchability, the ball lands at the 3 yard line while Austin's face is planted at the 5 yard line. Does that show that it was catchable? No, but it's possible and officials rarely call uncatchable unless they're really sure anymore.

by thestar5 (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 5:41am

Nathan Z,

I just don't see how you could say that. Watch Temo's video. He is clearly watching the receiver, not the ball. Its pretty indisputable.

As far as cacthing it. Just because there is a chance it won't be caught doesn't make it uncatchable.

by JDog (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 11:14am

Nathan appears to be someone who never lets evidence and reason get in the way of his opinion.

"I think it’s legit to believe there was a chance it wasn’t going to be caught." By that logic you could form tackle Terrell Owens pre-catch on every pass play, even if the ball was going to hit him square between the numbers.

by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 11:34am


Hello? From post 43:

"This discussion of penalties baffles me. Dallas was going to score on GB. A few penaltes may have expedited the process."

It is one poster who persists in the somewhat specious argument that no penalty took place. The VAST majority of folks have no issue.

Get a smaller brush when you paint that picture..............

by Zac (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 2:36pm

Re: 20. The problem there is intent is way too hard to judge. The league tries to limit judgment calls as much as possible, and in those cases, it's at least "How bad was it?" and not "Did he mean to do it?" I'm sure a guy could make a PI penalty look quite accidental to a viewer.

by Shannon (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 3:54pm

Why did this whole Audibles turn into discussion/overdiscussion of a PI call?

I thought the amount I read Friday morning was enough, now we're about to start Sunday's games and it's still going on.

The game is over, if there's a rematch, let's hope that Hoculi is out there and they let them play.

by Temo (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 6:15pm

181. I'm gonna go with "when the FO people were talking about questionable calls during the game" on that one."

And also this is the most recent FO post so people have nothing else to go to.

by Shannon (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 7:41pm

182 - Good point. I just thought it was more than well handled on Friday's posts.

At least it's not more overdone Pats talk.

by Temo (not verified) :: Sun, 12/02/2007 - 8:40pm

183. Oh I agree, but no new posts=nothing for people to do other than argue with Nathan.

by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2007 - 5:49am

Atari Bigby is a penalty and gaffe machine.

by George O. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2007 - 1:24pm

Hi -- I just wanted to stop in and complain about the Seahawks getting jobbed in the Super Bowl on this PACKERS and COWBOYS game thread. Oh, you say that was already covered in the first paragraph? Great. As long as someone took care of it.

by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2007 - 1:44pm

By that logic you could form tackle Terrell Owens pre-catch on every pass play, even if the ball was going to hit him square between the numbers.

I'm all for it.

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2007 - 2:19pm

I think a lot of the PI discussion has to do with the larger problem that the NFL is turning into Arena Football. They already nerfed the NFL by disallowing contact with receivers past 5 yards before the ball is released. You can still do this in the college game and before the infamous Patriots/Colts playoff game.

That game generated enough debate because Manning couldn't complete his timing patterns because the Patriots were so physical down field. The NFL decided TD's are more important so they stopped calling offensive line holding and started calling defensive PI and holding much, much more. So, with the defense unable to play defense they get burned more easily and resort to contact or PI.

So, smart teams are taking advantage of this and playing what amounts to Arena Football.

Is it any wonder that scoring records are falling, TD pass records are being broken, etc since they've made it impossible to be a defensive back?

It bothers a lot of people and it seems like you can't go a game now without a game changing PI call. And its worse when the closest ref doesn't see it, another one talks with him and as the crowd gets in the youngest officiating crews head, they throw a flag.

It isn't just this incident. It's the entire league wide policy of getting rid of field position fights, making the LOS meaningless and turning it into a TD fest by disallowing physical defense in the favor of easy passing. Who can throw more bombs into soft coverage and possibly get the PI calls?

Offensive holding isn't enforced as much (protects QB's), defensive linemen can now draw the offense offsides even though the offense knows the count, you can't make real contact more than 5 yards down field before the ball is thrown, PI as a side effect is easier to commit now and it's being enforced more and by stricter guidelines.

Yet, WR's can still make contact 5 yards down field before the ball is thrown (push offs before the ball is thrown are almost never called).

by coldbikemessenger (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2007 - 8:19pm

I think a lot of the PI discussion has to do with the larger problem that the NFL is turning into Arena Football. They already nerfed the NFL by disallowing contact with receivers past 5 yards before the ball is released. You can still do this in the college game and before the infamous Patriots/Colts playoff game.

That rule was changed in 1978.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2007 - 10:28pm

When Jerry Jones hired Garrett before he hired Phillips I thought he was making a huge error. I didn't really know too much about Garrett (other than the fact that he was a pretty ordinary quarterback) and was sceptical of Jones referring to him as though he was an up and coming genius. That was probably because I am generally pretty sceptical of Jones. It seemed to be a very dangerous move to hire a coordinator before a head coach, how does a guy carry authority when someone else hired one of the top coaches. All things considered though it all seems to be working very well.

Garrett is doing an excellent job of designing defensive schemes, his attention to detail shines through his playcalling. He does an excellent job of alternating between using Owens and Witten from their conventional positions to drag the coverage out of shape leaading to easy completions to Crayton and Fasano, and then putting one of his two stars into the slot to make it difficult to bring extra coverage against them. It keeps the defense of guard which helps blocking schemes and the running game.

As FO says you have to pass to set up the run, Garrett's moving his top notch weapons around the formation creates huge mismatches which lead to straight forward completions, hitting guys running into space without having to force the ball into coverage. I know every coordinator tries to do the same stuff, but Garrett seems to be doing it better than most. Although he does have good players.

by Kyle S (not verified) :: Mon, 12/03/2007 - 10:48pm

The current 5-yard rule was adopted in 1978, but it has a predecessor from 1974. That year, after complaining by Bengals coach Paul Brown that WR Isaac Curtis was frequently mugged downfield, the original illegal contact rule passed.

It stated that defenders could only contact eligible receivers only once after said receivers were more than 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. That rule still allowed Mel Blount and others to be physical beyond that point, but just once. Not enough for a lot of people - hence the 1978 'Mel Blount' rule.

by Nathan Z (not verified) :: Tue, 12/04/2007 - 1:20am

So I'm a little behind on the current rules!

Seriously though, it seemed like they allowed a lot more bumping and nudging before the ball was in the air before.