There's been an awful lot of talk about the 4th and goal play at the end of the Super Bowl. Looking at the play over and over and over again, it is a bit of a mystery to me how defensive holding wasn't called on Ravens CB Jimmy Smith. I mean, the guy had 2 handfuls of the receiver's jersey which impeded progress as they entered the end zone. It really doesn't even look like a 50/50 call to me, but what really amazes me is how nobody is talking about the 3rd down play in the same series.
If you go back and watch it, it's even more plain to see that an unnecessary roughness flag should have been thrown on Smith on that play. He clearly lowered his head and lunged forward making contact with the side of Crabtree's helmet. That's been a penalty all season long. So, why wasn't it in the Super Bowl?
Certainly, we don't want to have to talk about how the officials "decided" the biggest game of the year, but a penalty is a penalty, and that lack of a call on the 3rd down play may have done just that by not being made. You know, it brings to mind all the firey rage being leveled at the replacement refs at the beginning of this season. Arguments about how the game was too fast for them and how they were frequently out of position come to mind. So, where were the zebras for this game? It's hard to say, but they've left Goodell in another bad spot. Not making the call on the 3rd down play removes all credibility from the league that they are trying to make the game safer for the players.
We probably all know by now that the officiating teams for the playoffs are "all-star" configurations. Teams of officals will stay together for the entire year, only to be broken up and dispatched willy-nilly to each of the 11 postseason games. This is the first thing that has to stop. If a head ref is deemed worthy of being in the playoffs, his entire crew should follow him. The familiarity a crew has is even more important come playoff time than it is during the regular season, and the players deserve at least that much.
Without that familiarity, we inherently are going to have problems like occurred in Sunday's game. The side judge doesn't want to throw the flag anymore than the back judge or linesman or any other guy in a striped shirt because they don't want to be the goat of the game. So, we get to a "no blood, no foul" mentality, and that really creates danger for the players on the field. I'm really surprised this hasn't ever been an issue for the NFLPA. Heck, in the little brawl that took place in the first half of the game, a Ravens player actually pushed a ref and wasn't flagged and ejected. Are you kidding me?
The bottom line, football fans, is that you're beloved league has become weak under this current commissioner. Goodell has to go, and that's all there is to it. So let's go, owners. You've got work to do.
THE NBA (5-3 last night and 7-4 so far for the week)
SU WINNERS (7-1 last night and 9-2 so far for the week)
PACERS, NETS, GRIZZLIES, ROCKETS and NUGGETS
TOTALS (6-2 last night and 8-3 so far for the week)
OVERS - Suns/GRIZZLIES (183), Warriors/ROCKETS (216 1/2), Bucks/NUGGETS (214 1/2) and Hawks/PACERS (183)
UNDERS - Lakers/NETS (195)
BUTTA (1-0 last night and 2-0 so far for the week)
Tonight's schedule looks a lot like last night's in that there's a play I want to make on the Nets, but there are a lot of questions for both teams when it comes to player availability. So, it's another patient waiting game.
ALL THE REST
1. PACERS (-5 1/2) over Hawks - The worry here is not which is the better team, but instead is all about motivation and possible fatigue. All Pacer starters logged over 30 minutes in last night's big win over division rival Chicago. The Hawks really aren't all that impressive, if you ask me, but they do want to get out and run, and that could be bad news for the Pacers. PACERS 101, Hawks 90
2. NETS (-3 1/2) over Lakers - The issue here is not that Howard and Artest will be most likely missing for the Lakers tonight, but that Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, C. J. Watson, MarShon Brooks and Andray Blatche are all nicked up for the Nets. All except Blatche are listed as "probable", but funny things happen during pre-game warmups sometimes. I'll wait till just before tip to decide one way or the other on this one. NETS 94, Lakers 86
3. GRIZZLIES (-8 1/2) over Suns - You should know by now that I'm not at all impressed with anything the Suns bring to the court on a nightly basis. The Griz are still in transition though, so I'll just let this one slide on by. GRIZZLIES 103, Suns 82
4. Warriors (+2 1/2) at ROCKETS - Sometimes, it's not who you play, but when you play them that makes all the difference. At long last, the Rocks should be pretty well rested for this game, but their big task is going to be how to handle a Warriors team that suddenly has some competitive size in the paint with the return of Bogut. ROCKETS 113, Warriors 112
5. NUGGETS (-6 1/2) over Bucks - All the numbers, trends, etc. point to the Nugs here. With the numbers and my projection, however, there just isn't enough "wiggle room" to make me comfortable. Probably, the best looking action on this game would be toward the OVER. NUGGETS 117, Bucks 110
COLLEGE HOOPS (1-2 ATS/3-0 SU/0-3 TOTALS last night and 2-4/5-1/1-5 so far for the week)
1. GEORGIA TECH (-3, U128) 58, Florida St. 50
2. N. CAROLINA (-12, U148) 68, Wake Forest 53
3. MICHIGAN (-7 1/2, U 132) 60, Ohio St. 48
4. Purdue 66, PENN ST (+2 1/2, O125) 65
5. Kansas St. (-11 1/2, U128 1/2) 67, TEXAS TECH 43
6. DePAUL (+2 1/2, U144 1/2) 70, Villanova 68
7. Florida (-12, U137) 69, ARKANSAS 51
Probably, the most tantalizing of the games above, for me, would be the Kansas St. and Florida matchups. I don't want to lay doubles with visitors unless I'm really sure though. Tech may be one of the worst teams in all of college hoops, but K-State isn't a real juggernaut when it comes to offense. The Gators are a juggernaut right now, but they're playing into an extreme home court advantage tonight. I'll pass on both. And one last word: Be very careful with Michigan tonight. They're a much better team than the Buckeyes, but off that loss on Saturday that dropped them from the top of the polls, there's a chance for a big letdown.
Have a great night, and I'll talk to you again tomorrow.