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Commentary: NFL's expanded replay should be reversed

When is a scintillating, mind-blowing, "Do-you-believe-it!" touchdown not worth cheering about? Pretty much every week in the NFL, where you can't trust your own eyes or anyone else's.
It seems counterintuitive, but trying so hard to ensure that every call is right is actually the wrong call. The NFL's current version of instant replay challenges slows the game interminably. It still doesn't get the calls right and, actually, seems to make the officiating worse. And it makes fans wonder if that touchdown they just saw was really a touchdown. They should make an announcement during games asking paying customers to "hold their applause until the end."
The all-too-familiar scenario played out twice in the final two minutes of last Sunday's Vikings-Ravens game.
Jacoby Jones improbably, unbelievably returned a kickoff for a touchdown after Minnesota had scored to take the lead. And the crowd went wild.
Momentarily. Because every fan in the stadium realized the play would be reviewed and that a genius in stripes would take three or four (or more) minutes to review the play from every angle, using super slow-mo and enhancement technology to see if Jones' pinky toe might have grazed the sideline en route to the end zone.
The TD call was, eventually, confirmed, but the process was repeated soon afterward when, following another go-ahead touchdown by the Vikings, Joe Flacco found Marlon Brown in the back of the end zone.
The capper to the craziest final two minutes in NFL history, fans should've been able to go bonkers without fear of a tremendous letdown. But, again, they had to restrain themselves.
Instead of screaming their lungs out, they were craning their necks toward the video screen to watch the same replay referee Pete Morelli would be looking at - for several more minutes, through another long commercial break - in an effort to ascertain whether Brown really got both feet down inbounds and then held onto the ball "through the completion of the catch."
The climactic moment wasn't Brown's grab, but rather the sight of a high school principal moonlighting as a referee trotting back out to the middle of the field to make the announcement that the fans did, in fact, see what they saw.
What a drag. It was bad enough when only a coach's challenge could initiate a replay review. Expanding replay to all scoring plays and turnovers only made things worse.
The news this week that the NFL is contemplating a move of all replay challenges to a centralized location was welcome. That would at least speed things up, take the intimidating crowd factor out of the decision-making process, and keep sometimes out-of-shape refs from jogging the length of the field to the replay monitor.
Better news, to me, would be abolishing replay. But that will never happen. Football fans may not care if they get "their" or "there" right on a Facebook post, but, dadgummit, they can't accept a single call being wrong.
Of course, there are numerous wrong calls in every game and replay doesn't fix them.
Pass interference is the most egregious and costly example week after week. Even though replay shows officials to be wrong on this "judgment" call far too often, it is deemed a call that can't be reviewed. The Patriots won last week because of a terrible "PI" called against Cleveland. That's OK, though, because they lost a few weeks earlier when a "PI" that should've been called against Carolina wasn't.
As a matter of fact, even Ravens fans have to admit the pass interference call against Minnesota's Chad Greenway that turned a game-losing interception into one more shot at a game-winning TD was iffy.
The refs can't even get the calls that are reviewable correct. Everyone's definition of what constitutes a catch seems to be different. Ditto for what it means to be down.
Clearly, Toby Gerhart's knee was down before the ball came loose and the Ravens pounced on it to set up their first touchdown Sunday. I saw it. You saw it. The announcers saw it. Even Mike Perreira, the guy FOX pays to sit in its studio and comment on close calls, saw it. Morelli didn't, even with the benefit of a long replay delay.
Ironically, at about the same time, another ref - Jeff Triplette, who was behind the Sunday Night fiasco in Washington a few weeks back - was having a similar problem, not noticing that Cincinnati's Benjarvus Green-Ellis had been tripped up by a Colts player short of the end zone on fourth down, erroneously giving the Bengals a critical touchdown. (If it seems to you that the officials - the best-paid part-time workers in all the land - simply award a touchdown every time a player gets close to the goal line because they know every scoring play will be reviewed, well, you're not alone.)
All these replay reviews make the games longer - the Ravens-Vikings game ended around 4:30 - they deprive fans of unbridled joy when their team does something spectacular, and they still don't ensure that the calls will be correct.
After further review, it's been confirmed. The NFL's call on expanded replay should be reversed.

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