Let me start off by saying that I hated all four teams in the NFL Championship round equally. I had no care of whether or not I'd be able to root against Jim Harbaugh, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, or Joe Flacco. Couldn't care less...but I still noticed something that really irked me about these games.
I saw a grand total of one...one in two games...holding calls. Not that I didn't see A LOT of times where it could have been called without question.
Now, there is a lot of belief that in the playoffs you simply "let them play" and maybe I'm down with that...but what that really does is completely change the rules. It completely nullifies the strength of a lot of teams. Teams have traditionally been built "from the inside out" with a huge emphasis on the defensive line...like the Lions have been built...and it drives me crazy to see hold after hold after hold not called...Why? Because--please, please, please--when the the Lions start becoming perennial contenders, they will be one of the most hurt by officials looking the other way.
Furthermore, it takes away from the integrity of the game. They say holding can be called on every play...it's a judgement call by the officials...meaning the game is pretty much being played at their discretion.
Seriously, down the stretch, the Lions DL was mugged so many times, I think Cliff Avril had to file a police report.
And it's not just holding...there are other plays from this past weekend that drew my ire.
For instance in the Bal-NE game, Baltimore wideout Torrey Smith took a pass down the sideline, tried to stiff arm a defender and dove more than five yards to hold the ball out over the goal line for the score. Because it was a scoring play, it was automatically under review.
So the world got to watch, replay after replay of the play and what did they see...although no announcer ever made any comment whatsoever...Torrey Smith facemasking the defender. In fact, the blatant facemask made the play even more impressive, because Smith grabbed that facemask so hard that he actually dragged the defender with him as he flew through the air!
Why do I bring this up? Other than because I am so outraged that the call was so utterly blown, but during the season, Lions WR Nate Burleson was called for doing the exact same thing...big play reversed...for the Lions...If Torrey Smith has a lion on the side of his helmet, the whole play gets called back, who cares if he scored or not.
Consistency is my big issue. Sure it's easy to complain about the refs on any given Sunday, but do they have to make it so incredibly easy?
Another example, the SF-NY game had tons of awesome hard hitting...tons of completely illegal--according to the rules--head to head contacts...No calls...And don't think that I'm against the hitting...I don't think it should be called. It's football for heaven's sake, it's all about hard hitting...but if you put in the rules and you're going to penalize some teams you have to penalize them all. It's supposed to be a level playing field.
Is it because it was in the playoffs, or was it because there were four successfully established franchises playing in the games? The rules shouldn't change from week to week for ratings or for anything else.