In response to an item in our Conference
Championship Ten-Pack regarding a key pass interference call on Patriots
cornerback Ellis Hobbs that allowed the Colts to complete an 18-point comeback
and knot the game at 21, a member of PFT Planet has alerted us to a January 25,
2007 "Q&A" on Jaguars.com in which Vic Ketchman writes that the NFL has acknowledged
that a bad call was made.
Writes Ketchman, in response to a question that
chastised him for suggesting that face-guarding is still
"Face-guarding was discontinued several years ago and I
completely missed it. I talked to Dean Blandino in the league office and
he confirmed what you're saying. Blandino, by the way, was in the replay
booth at the Patriots-Colts game. Ellis Hobbs should not have been flagged
for pass-interference. He didn't make contact with the receiver and in no
way did Hobbs impede Reggie Wayne's ability to catch the pass. Blandino
confirmed that the incorrect call was made. It advanced the ball from the
Patriots' 19-yard line to the one-yard line and was the big play in a touchdown
drive that led to a two-point conversion and a tie game at 21-21. Referee
Bill Carollo made no reference to face-guarding in his explanation, but CBS
analyst Phil Simms did. Apparently, he, too, doesn't know the rule no
longer exists. The next time you hear a TV analyst say, 'he wasn’t playing the
ball,' think of the Hobbs play, then turn down the sound."
How does this happen? I don't think judgement calls should be reviewed in a "was that holding" sort of manner, but if they called "face guarding" and it wasn't face guarding, that SHOULD be reviewable. If there's not even a distinction about face guarding in the rule book, HOW CAN YOU CALL FACE GUARDING.
It blows my mind that this is under the radar in the NFL right now. If this happened to the Colts, Bill Polian would be on the front page of ESPN.com, cbs.sportsline, cnnsi, thatguysports, all of the major sports websites in the country. But because it happened to the Patriots, nobody is going to freak out and nobody is going to say anything.
Face guarding isn't even a rule anymore. Yet it was called in the AFC title game. Unreal.