MNF Refs Got Things Right

Did you see last Monday night’s game with the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens? What a finish! That was incredible!

The end was basically determined by the officials’ decision. Contrary to what the Titan fans may think, the officials’ ultimate decision was 100 percent perfect.

If you didn’t see what happened, I’ll try to explain it to you.

Baltimore led Tennessee 16 10 in the fourth quarter. On third down and goal from the Baltimore 6-yard line, and with 15 seconds to play, Titan quarterback Steve McNair threw a quick slant to wide receiver Kevin Dyson. Dyson made the catch and was stopped one yard short of the goal line in-bounds. The clock continued to run, from 10 seconds down. It was fourth and goal from the 1-yard line.

The umpire did a great job of hustling to the ball and getting it spotted. There were five seconds on the clock. McNair, aware of how much time was on the clock and what down it was, got his team to line up and got set in formation, got the snap and snuck into the end zone for the would-be winning touchdown.

The Ravens didn’t know what hit them. They were all shell shocked that McNair was able to get the play off. They thought Tennessee had not gotten set. They did.

The Ravens were offside. The referee first made the signal as offside against the defense, and declined the penalty. The Titans thought they had won. Some of the players were on their way to the locker room. The fans were cheering for what they thought was a victory over division rival Baltimore.

But hold on.

The officials conferred to try to figure out what happened. The ABC broadcasting crew of Al Michaels, Dan Fouts and Dennis Miller showed the replay several times and gave their opinions as to what the call should end up being.

The question was, if Baltimore was offside, was it a dead-ball foul? If it was, the play should have never happened.

Peter Boulware was the man offside for the Ravens. He was trying to get on his side of the line of scrimmage after Tennessee was already in formation.

This is what should have happened.

When Boulware came through the line of scrimmage, he made contact with both McNair and the Titans’ center. At that moment, the play is dead. It never should have happened.

Because contact was made beyond the neutral zone by the defense, it is a dead-ball foul, which means the play will never happen. Tennessee does not have the option to decline the penalty because of the fact it was a dead-ball foul.

Thus, the touchdown by McNair does not count. The ball should be brought back to the previous spot. The penalty will be half the distance to the goal (because it is inside the 10-yard line), and the down should be replayed. It should have been fourth and goal from inside the 1-yard line.

As for the time, the referee said in his explanation that there would be an un-timed down. That is not correct. Whatever time was on the clock when the offsides occurred should be put back there. It was about three seconds. Although the referee did not vocally explain that, he did put it on the clock.

ABC’s broadcasting crew mentioned that the formation Tennessee was in was illegal. The Titans only had six men on the line of scrimmage. They are correct in the sense that is not a legal formation. However, they are incorrect in the sense that it has any significance in the play. The reason for that is because the foul was a dead-ball foul. The play never occurred. The illegal formation penalty is not a penalty until the ball is snapped. Thus, illegal formation is only a live-ball foul. A dead-ball foul makes all live-ball fouls null and void on any play, unless they are particularly flagrant.

The Titans did run another quarterback sneak on fourth and goal play from inside the 1-yard line, and they were pushed back. The game was over. Baltimore won on one of the most memorable moments in Monday Night Football history, 16-10.

The fans booed the officials after the game was over, but that doesn’t change the fact that the officials got it right.

Lance welcomes feedback at: [email protected].