Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Jan 2006

TMQ: 5,000 Thanks to Primetime

This week, Gregg Easterbrook eulogizes NFL Primetime, has some thoughts on Black Monday, and asks why Norvell sent out the punt team on a 4th-and-1 from the Raiders 15. He also notes with some curiosity that the Falcons, Bengals and Titans all "rolled over and played dead" in Week 17, and picks USC in a "walkover."

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 03 Jan 2006

28 comments, Last at 05 Jan 2006, 4:12pm by Sophandros


by wrmjr (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:03pm

Hasn't he done the whole toy train bit before? How else could I possibly have known so much about toy trains?

And punting from the 15 doesn't seem all that questionable; but Norv punting later from mid-field sure does.

by Harry (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:04pm

OK. I'll start the New Year Easterbrook criticisms. Gregg writes "My guess is the Primetime staff did not report to work on New Year's morning expecting someone to run through the halls yelling, "We need that 1941 reel of the last drop kick!"

Actually Gregg, Berman is the guy who urged Belichick and Flutie to run the drop-kick in the first place so I'm sure they had that 1941 reel ready for at least a week.

by dfarrar777 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:05pm

Re: his Sweet Play of the Week - "Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress got downfield blocks way down the field."

Uhhh...if that was a block that Toomer laid on Fabian Washington, I'm Nick Nolte. That, my friends, was a 20-yard uncalled hold.

by Smeghead (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:31pm

Strong take on the Alamo Bowl all-the-Cornhuskers-wander-onto-the-field situation, with chapter and verse rulebook citations.

Very nice.

As a referee, you'd have to have some kind of cojones to make a call like that, though. Maybe there'd have been a better case for it if the last Michigan guy didn't just say, aw, what the hell, and run out of bounds with the ball.

Speaking of bowl game officiating ineptitude, how about the bogus offsides called on Iowa on the onside kick they recovered at the Florida 41 trailing by 7 in the Outback Bowl?

That'll make for a tough day at the offseason grading review.

by Drew (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:40pm

Since people like to bash on TMQ, I'll be nice and gripe about something TMQ probably didn't even write.

The Coke commercial bit features a picture with the caption "You must be tired from your 22,000-mile trip. Have a Coke."

Should it be about half that distance? 22,000 miles would have the bear traveling all the way around the world and ending up back in the Arctic.

I assume the pictures and captions come from someone at NFL.com, rather than TMQ himself.

by Israel (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:44pm

If Plaxico blocks well, it's because he learned from Hines. He certainly didn't bring it with him from Michigan State.

And regarding Plax the receiver, he should read what Aaron wrote yesterday.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:49pm

I know this is where we gripe about TMQ, but I really liked his column today. As usual, I disagree on some of his calls (as I always disagree with other fans on some things), but I think this is one of his better efforts this year.

And I'm totally with him on everything he wrote about Primetime. Let's hope NBC doesn't screw it up.

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 5:15pm

I'll agree with #7... after being thoroughly disappointed in TMQ's effort this season, this week wasn't half bad.

I also agree that a punt from your own 15 in the 3rd quarter, really isn't "quitting".

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 5:30pm

I am starting to question Vick's heart. He appeared to roll over and play dead against the Bears, seemingly because he was cold, and quitting in the last game is not a charateristic one associates with leadership from the QB position either.

by GBS (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 5:52pm

On "Mike and Mike" this morning, Mike Golic claimed that an offsetting penalties on the last play of the game are NOT replayed. He stated that calling offsetting penalties would have still resulted in the game ending on that play.

Also, a player is offsides on a kickoff if ANY PART of his body is over the line when the ball is kicked. I'm not so sure that call was incorrect in the Florida/Iowa game. There were plenty of other bad calls though.

Finally, for what it is worth, the Bellman Equation says go for it on 4th and 1 from anywhere, including your own 15.

by Zac (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 6:48pm

"plus, during much of its 19-year run was the highest-rated cable television show."
Can someone verify his statement about NFL Primetime? I know that the NFL game on Sunday nights (which is not the same thing as the NFL Primetime show) is nearly always the highest scoring show on cable, followed by Nip/Tuck, WWE Raw, and 10 different airings of Spongebob Squarepants. Click my name for the cable numbers from 12/19 to 12/25. At best, Primetime hasn't been #1 for quite some time.

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 6:50pm

The Bellman equation must not notice that if you MISS it from your 15 yard line, you're handing off a score to the other team...:)

And I can't BELIEVE he didn't mention Belichick going for it on fourth down two or three times.

Oh wait. The Pats lost. I guess I can.

by Duane (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 6:52pm

#10, regarding the offsides call, I believe the offending player's head was over the line at the kick, even though you could see the white line completely. Every replay official, and announcer for that matter, should be required to take a remedial class in photographic illusion, stuff like telephoto foreshortening, distorted geometry and parallax. Or eliminate the distortions by requiring standardized camera placements for replay purposes, instead of relying on network angles only.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 6:56pm

Strong take on the Alamo Bowl all-the-Cornhuskers-wander-onto-the-field situation, with chapter and verse rulebook citations.

Except wrong. As noted, the head of NCAA officials has said that offsetting penalties do not result in another down when time has expired.

Also, the Michigan players stayed on the right side of the field not to avoid the Nebraska players coming on to the field, but to avoid the Alamo Bowl trophy presentation stand which was being rolled onto the field while the play was taking place.

Finally, a Michigan coach set what amounted to a pick on a Nebraska player during the final run-back, which is as much or more an 'illegal act' as what the Nebraska players did.

by EJP (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 7:56pm

Re #7. Nit-picking aside, I too enjoyed this week's column. For some reason that I can't quite put a finger on, it seemed like the type of column he used to write, or at least I perceived this column as I did when I first discovered TMQ about a year and a half ago.

I've been a huge fan of NFL Primetime for as long as I can remember. Tom Jackson and Chris Berman are like peas and carrots - they have always worked so well together. I enjoyed Gregg's send off.

I thought the offsides call on Iowa was horrible.

I enjoyed Gregg's look at the rule book - never knew those existed. I always wondered what would happen if say, while a player was runnning down the sideline for a sure score, some person standing on the sideline stuck out a foot and tripped him?

by Bill Krasker (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 9:33pm

EJP (#15):

Supplemental Note 2 to Rule 11-2 ("The referee may award a touchdown when a palpably unfair act deprives the offended team of one."), cited by TMQ, is just a special case of Rule 12-3-3:

"A player or substitute shall not interfere with play by any act which is palpably unfair. PENALTY: Offender may be disqualified. The Referee, after consulting with his crew, enforces any such distance penalty as they consider equitable and irrespective of any other specified code penalty. The Referee could award a score."

by wrmjr (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 9:43pm

#15, there actually was a famous example of that happening. 2 running backs having career days. Toward the end of regulation, back A is racing down the sidelines for a game-winning score. Back B is on the sideline, comes onto the field, and tackles the runner. The Refs awarded a touchdown.

Alas, though, too many brain cells have been killed for me to remember who was involved. But I remember having a book as a kid that recounted this story (and other strange football stories). It even included photos of it happening... I'm sure someone here can provide details.

by Vince (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 11:52pm

Re #17: It was a college bowl game about 50 years ago. I've got it on a sports bloopers video somewhere. The Alabama runningback is running down the right sideline, looking back over his left shoulder at the defense. He is then blindsided by a player from the opposing bench -- who promptly jumps to his feet, scurries back to the bench and sits down, as if he had been there the whole time. It is awesome.

The offending player then went on (I think) the Ed Sullivan show. Sullivan (or whomever the TV host was) asks why he did what he did, and the player says "By that point, I was SO FULL of Alabama..."

by jimmo (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 1:26am

good old "Strange but True Football Stories." Dickie Magle did the tackling I believe, can't remember the runner. Flutie's kick brings to mind Frosty Peters from the same book; Peters was some kind of crazy drop-kicking god many moons ago, but I of course don't remember the details.

by Paul (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 1:37am

I agree with #7 #8 and #15

by Levente, Hungary (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 9:31am

Re: Alamo Bowl
In other sports rules do exist to prevent such events.
In the 90's in the last seconds of the water polo World Championship final in Vienna, Austria, the substitute goalie of Italy jumped into the water (with his robe on) celebrating his team's victory, as usual in this sport. The rule says, if an extra player enters the water it is an instant penalty, so ref awarded a penalty shot for Hungary, who converted. As the score was a draw, overtime ensued. Luckily for the guy they won the game, avoiding to be killed by his teammates and the fans.

by Tom Kelso (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 11:49am

It was Dicky Moegle who leapt off the bench to tackle the Alabama runner in the Cotton Bowl.

Now for the strangest part of the story -- Moegle played for Rice. RICE? How the Hell did RICE ever make the Cotton Bowl?

by GBS (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 11:59am

Oh, the Bellman equation takes the odds of your opponent scoring into account after failing to convert from your own 15. It also factors in the probability that they're going to score anyway if you punt from there. The paper's only 42 pages long so I've attached it for some light reading.

by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 12:51pm

re: #17 & #22

It was Dicky Moegle who was the runner for Rice. Tommy Lewis was the guy for Alabama who did the tackling. Lewis was not having a career day. Rice destroyed Alabama, 28-6.

As for Primetime, I thought it was an okay show but it could have had more highlights and less "analysis". It seemed like 1/3 of the show was blather, 1/3 was commercials, and 1/3 was actual highlights. Even when they made it a 90-minute show, they just added on 30 more minutes of jibberish. Also, they had the worst background music ever.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:02pm

re 14: That would be unfortunate if the head of NCAA officiating really did say that, or maybe it might explain things:

Rule 3-2, article 3. Extension of Periods. A period shall be extended until a down (other than a try), free from live-ball fouls not penalized as dead-ball fouls, has been played when:

b. Offsetting fouls occur during a down in which time expires.

I don't see why they didn't throw a flag there. If they're not going to enforce the rules on the last play of the game, don't run the play, just have the teams walk off the field.

I can't see the Sun Belt being invited to officiate bowl games next season.

But enough of that ... um, TMQ, infinity wasn't being expanded. The definition of infinity was, and the definition (presumably) has limits.

Also, the Pittsburgh-Detroit contest became ho-hum somewhere around November.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 6:15pm

re 14: That would be unfortunate if the head of NCAA officiating really did say that, or maybe it might explain things:

I've linked the article.

by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 7:55pm

re 25

free from live-ball fouls not penalized as dead-ball fouls

Which is exactly what it would have been had they thrown the flags....

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 4:12pm

Which conference officiated the Rose Bowl? Or any of the other bowl games where blunders occurred? Don't give in to the BCS Cartel.

Re: Rice

You'd be surprised at who were football powers "back in the day."