The Electric Commentary

Monday, December 12, 2005

Samkon Gado's First NFL Pass

The Detroit Lions probably should have won their Sunday night matchup with the Green Bay Packers. Sure, they made several incredibly bad plays that ended up costing them the game, like not trying to kick a FG at the end of the first half, and like Roy Williams dropping a likely touchdown late in the game, and like getting stuffed on 4th an goal at the Packer one yard line. But they also got screwed by the refs.

The bizarre sequence took place just after the aforementioned 4th and 1 stuffing. RB Samkon Gado took a handoff and followed FB Vonta Leach just over the right side, where there was a sizable hole. Unfortunately for Gado, Leach missed his lead block and one of the defensive linemen managed to shed his blocker, and Gado was drilled about one yard deep in his end zone. In a last ditch effort to avoid a safety, he hurled the ball forward with both hands. It landed at about the 2 foot line at the feet of Leach who had turned around, probably to warn Gado that he was about to be hit very hard. While this was going on, Packer lineman Mark Tauscher was called for holding. Replays showed that the holding almost certainly occurred in the end zone. Gado was called for intentional ground, Tauscher for holding (declined originally) and a safety was awarded. At this point, Packer coach Mike Sherman tossed a challenge flag.

What happened next is truly mind boggling. It is laden with officiating mistakes and it may hurt your brain. You've been warned.

Intentional grounding, to the best of my knowledge, is not challengeable, however, the refs used this opportunity to reconsider the play. After discussing the play for what seemed like several hours they decided that Gado was outside the pocket when he threw his "pass" and that he did get it back to the line of scrimmage, and therefore the "grounding" was allowed. I believe that the grounding should have been allowed, but not for that reason. I think that the rule that they cited only applies to the QB (I'm fairly certain that I have seen it called that way before on a halfback option), however Gado did target and eligible receiver (Leach) so I'm OK with it.

They also decided that Tauscher's holding took place outside of the end zone even though at no point during the play was Tauscher outside of the end zone, and his tackle-like block resulted in both he and a Detroit lineman being tied up on the ground several yards deep in the end zone. This penalty should have resulted in a safety.

At no point did they ever actually look at a replay, and Green Bay was not charged with a timeout. They were basically given an extra ten minutes to argue, and somehow, they managed to get the officials to change their minds, even though the officials had basically been correct in the first place.

I'm not sure that I've ever seen anything like it, but I'll take any win at this point.

Detroit is just a complete train wreck at this point. The Packers were sloppy and terrible as well, but at least I saw some signs of life (although Ahmad Carroll is going to give me heart trouble if he isn't replaced). I would love to see Detroit play Houston right now. Together I'm convinced that they could come up with the most creative loss in NFL history.

Update: Prof. Karlson poses the question:

Can you play football for leaster?


  • I'm curious, if in a blindly unfair way, the reason the holding penalty was all but dismissed was because it was declined. It doesn't make sense, but then again, neither does continuing Matt Millen's employment.

    By Anonymous Mike, at 12:29 PM  

  • Refs don't want to call safeties for some reason. The Titans have been screwed on two such plays in the Houston game this past week and the Jacksonville game a couple of weeks ago.

    In the Jacksonville game, Byron Leftwich threw a ball out of bounds, while in the pocket, while standing in the end zone. That's intentional grounding, should have been a safety.

    In the Houston game, there was clearly holding in the end zone, which is supposed to be a safety. Of course, Pacman ran a TD back on the ensuing punt, so it was all good. But I wonder if refs have some fundamental mental block when it comes to safeties--unless the ball carrier gets tackled in the end zone or the ball ends up out of the end zone, refs have a difficult time giving 2 points away.

    By Blogger Chris, at 1:52 PM  

  • It does seem that way sometimes. In order to "escape" the endzone the ball has to completely cross the goal line, not just break the plane, but it seems like close running plays out of the endzone frequently end up with the ball spotted an inch or two past the plane, even if the runner didn't quite make it.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 1:57 PM  

  • The Lions are a disgrace. I don't feel so bad that they were screwed on the holding/safetyplay, because they deserved to lose.

    My question is this:
    He threw the ball when he was still inside the endzone, so he must have been behind the line of scrimmage, right? Can a running back can throw the ball like that?

    Also, did the Lions decline the holding call?

    By Anonymous Phil, at 2:18 PM  

  • Yes, A RB can throw the ball just like the QB.

    The Lions did originally decline the holding call, however, after the intentional grounding call was overturned they were given the option of accepting the holding call. They did decline the holding call:

    Penalty on GB-M.Tauscher, Offensive Holding, declined

    But I assume they only declined the penalty because the refs told them that it would not be a safety, and since it was a half-the-distance penalty it would have given GB an extra down to accept while only gaining the lions a few inches.

    Had the refs ruled that the holding took place in the end zone, they would not have declined it, and they did have that option.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:29 PM  

  • The Lions got screwed in another way that not many people are mentioning: I'm nearly certain Gado's knee was down before the ball left his hand. I watched the replay a few times and I'd say I'm about 90%/10% in favor of thinking he was down. So it should've been a safety for three reasons. Four, if you count the argument I've heard (and I'm not sure I buy this one) that if he was trying to pass he should've been treated as a quarterback, and plays are always blown dead as soon as a quarterback is wrapped up to protect them, and Gado was wrapped up before he threw the ball.

    But, honestly, the Lions were screwed a lot more by their own play-calling than they were by the officials. I'm not even talking about the brilliant decision to have Jeff Garcia try a quarterback sneak by plunging directly into a man (Grady Jackson) who literally weighs twice as much as he does. I'm thinking more of all the passes thrown short of the line to gain on third down. When Steve Mariucci was fired, offensive coordinator Ted Tollner was demoted, and Joey Harrington was benched, we were told that those moves would radically improve the Lions' play calling. Uh huh.

    By Blogger MDS, at 2:15 PM  

  • TMQ just mentioned that as well. I must confess that I am also guilty of ignoring his knee, but it wouldn't surprise me. It was one of the most blown calls ever.

    As for the "in the grasp" idea, I don't buy it, as there is no way for a the ref to know in advance that he will be throwing, and because I'm about 90% sure that QB specific rules only apply to the actual QB.

    That was a terribly called game by the Lions though. just like Dick Jauron when he was with the Bears. Dinky screens everywhere.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Amazon Logo