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Harbaugh talks about decision not to challenge key fumble

One of the things we don’t like about the current replay system is that the quest to ensure that possible human error won’t influence the outcome of an NFL game unnecessarily injects strategy — and, yes, possible human error — into the process.

The Ravens committed a human error on Sunday when deciding not to challenge the human error made by officials who concluded that a punt from the Patriots had been touched by a Ravens player and that possession had been secured by Kyle Arrington before he fell out of bounds.

Replays showed that, while the ball struck the back of Tom Zbikowski, Arrington did not have full possession of the ball before going out of bounds. 

But Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t throw the red flag.

“Our coaches upstairs told me they saw the punt hit Zbikowski a couple of times on replay but they never saw enough to alert me to make a challenge,” Harbaugh told Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC.  “I’m disappointed, but in the heat of battle, sometimes that happens.”

It shouldn’t have to be that way.  If the NFL is serious about using available technology to get it right, the technology should be applied in any instance where the officials on the field possibly have gotten it wrong.

So coaches like Harbaugh shouldn’t have to rely on someone eyeballing a replay and concluding on the fly whether to use one of only two challenges (three if the first two are used properly) available to each team.

The fact that the NFL automatically subjects questionable calls to replay review without a demand from the team in the final two minutes of each half and in overtime makes our case in this regard.  The NFL should be willing to take a look at the tape whenever and wherever necessary to cure a mistake that the officials have made.

Or, better still, the NFL should find a way to get its officials to make fewer mistakes.

Until that happens, the league needs to be willing to fix any that are made.

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49 Responses to “Harbaugh talks about decision not to challenge key fumble”
  1. virtualplague says: Jan 10, 2010 7:14 PM

    As much as I wish this was possible, games would last 5+ hours if every questionable call was reviewed.

  2. twinsanity says: Jan 10, 2010 7:15 PM

    Or mandate that teams must immediately display replays of the previous play on the Jumbotrons. the NFL could enforce this. But why the Ravens didnt have a network feed that everyone else could see is baffling.

  3. The Coop says: Jan 10, 2010 7:18 PM

    Awesome suggestion, Florio. Bring on the 5 hour games. Advertisers and corporate sponsors will love it. More money for everyone.

  4. gforce89 says: Jan 10, 2010 7:21 PM

    Katmandu and you other Steeler fans…..we can’t hear you…..and we can’t hear you cocky Pats fans either……suckers!

  5. axonjackson says: Jan 10, 2010 7:21 PM

    or Harbaugh could get his head out of his ass and throw the flag on calls when Phil Simms and Nantzy are saying that it is clearly a paly that should be overturned. The fact that the Ravens are winning with this scrub is nothing short of amazing.

  6. wvugrad00 says: Jan 10, 2010 7:22 PM

    if the nfl wants to take anything from the college game it would be the replat system

  7. 34_Fan_4_Life says: Jan 10, 2010 7:22 PM

    Make fewer mistakes ????
    Are you loopy ??
    They want those “mistakes”, that’s what helps them steer games in the direction they want. . . . .

  8. Observer1 says: Jan 10, 2010 7:22 PM

    How much time has it added to the college game…zero. It needs to be done.

  9. d.b.cooper says: Jan 10, 2010 7:22 PM

    The “coaches upstairs” should be kicked in the ass by Harbaugh.
    Very stupid not to challenge.

  10. BigOx says: Jan 10, 2010 7:26 PM

    It’s one thing to have automatic challenges on deciding ticky-tacky, non-critical issues; but on significant, when possible points are involved, game-changing plays perhaps it’s warranted.

  11. stefanovich says: Jan 10, 2010 7:28 PM

    Are you serious, Florio? This is the dumbest article I’ve read in my life. You want the NFL to automatically review every single questionable play? Okay. Say hello to five-hour games.
    What if the officials screw up and don’t review a play a coach wants to review? Will coaches even have challenges, and if so, what’s the point?

  12. AcidSoda says: Jan 10, 2010 7:28 PM

    The technology that professional tennis uses–the animated (?) replay to judge whether a ball is in or out is quick and snappy. Now, granted the nature of having to survey a small court is very convenient, pro football should develop the same technology. Now, IMO i think it’ll happen eventually but probably not for a decade or two.

  13. ShruggingGalt says: Jan 10, 2010 7:28 PM

    So why doesn’t the NFL make it official and just call it the Major League NCAAs.
    I think it’s bogus that in FBS Football that the booth can review anything they want (practically) anytime they want.

  14. LiveNBreatheFootball says: Jan 10, 2010 7:29 PM

    The point of replays is to fix mistakes that could affect the outcome of the game. This mistake did not affect the outcome of the game. So, not challenging it was no big deal.

  15. edgarpoe says: Jan 10, 2010 7:31 PM

    I think your last line sums it all up:
    [QUOTE]Or, better still, the NFL should find a way to get its officials to make fewer mistakes.[/QUOTE]
    That would solve a whole lot of problems with NFL refs. Get it right the first time. That is supposedly what you are paid to do.

  16. i'm president charlie! says: Jan 10, 2010 7:33 PM

    I wish there were more commercials in football, it seems like there are not enough….derp derp

  17. deymond says: Jan 10, 2010 7:35 PM

    Ahhh…like we don’t already have enough time wasted on bad challenges by coaches. Idiot.

  18. af16 says: Jan 10, 2010 7:36 PM

    Hell, just give them a TV set to watch what’s being broadcast to us at home… we could all see what happened just fine.

  19. BigOx says: Jan 10, 2010 7:36 PM

    My God, what a terrible call. It’s not like he fell on the ground and the ball rubbed the turf and bounced under his body and was hard to see – damn thing bounced about 5 feet away once he hit the ground

  20. ncsteeler says: Jan 10, 2010 7:40 PM

    Collges basically do this and their games aren’t remarkablly longer than the NFLs.

  21. Mizzou1839 says: Jan 10, 2010 7:40 PM

    College football reviews every play (so they say) and those games aren’t five hours long. The college system is way ahead of the NFL on this

  22. JimmyY says: Jan 10, 2010 7:42 PM

    Don’t agree at all, unless they adopt an NHL style replay whereby there’s a Control Center of some sort reviewing each and every play in real time, yes, that would be feasible. If Nantz and Sims could see it right away the coaches should have.

  23. tigerlilac says: Jan 10, 2010 7:57 PM

    If at first you don’t succeed . . . Patriots need to take advantage of another bounty of draft picks in 2010:
    Per Round
    1
    2
    2 (from Jacksonville)
    2 (from Tennessee)
    4
    6
    7
    7 (from Denver)
    *not including compensation picks.

  24. cunn9305 says: Jan 10, 2010 7:58 PM

    Are you on dope ???

  25. slipkid says: Jan 10, 2010 8:01 PM

    college has 4 12 minute quarters.
    pros have 4 15 minute quarters.
    college will always have shorter games on average.

  26. habibfromnewdehli says: Jan 10, 2010 8:14 PM

    This would be beneficial to every team EXCEPT the Ravens. The officials would not overturn something that helped the Ravens out. Shoot, they tried to help the Patriots get back into this game quite a few times.
    Both Patriots touchdown drives helped by the officials. And they took a McGahee 2 pt conversion away.
    Anyway, the Ravens special teams are HORRIBLE. Trade your 5th round pick for that kicker on Dallas. Bueller I think his name is? Now that guy actually has an NFL leg.

  27. Ravens Macg says: Jan 10, 2010 8:33 PM

    @slipkid
    “college has 4 12 minute quarters.
    pros have 4 15 minute quarters.
    college will always have shorter games on average.”
    College, 12 minute quarters? What games have you been watching?!!! 15 minutes each quarter, numbnuts. You must be a squeeler fan.

  28. tip56 says: Jan 10, 2010 8:35 PM

    @ slipkid you are kidding right? College and pro quarters are both 15 minutes.

  29. BigOx says: Jan 10, 2010 8:37 PM

    @ LiveNBreatheFootball
    The point of replays is to fix mistakes that could affect the outcome of the game. This mistake did not affect the outcome of the game. So, not challenging it was no big deal.
    ——————————————-
    Uhhh, that’s true, but unless you have a crystal ball you won’t know that until after the game if it was significant – when it’s too late. That was a significant play, early in the game; perhaps, under different circumstances, it may have made a difference and it would have been a shame to see it influence an outcome. I thought, overall, the zebras called a pretty good game.

  30. FlorioWhorio says: Jan 10, 2010 8:54 PM

    tigerlilac says:
    January 10, 2010 7:57 PM
    If at first you don’t succeed . . . Patriots need to take advantage of another bounty of draft picks in 2010:
    Per Round
    1
    2
    2 (from Jacksonville)
    2 (from Tennessee)
    4
    6
    7
    7 (from Denver)
    not including compensation picks.
    ___________
    With all of the whiffs by Belichick lately, he is gonna need all those chances. LMFAO!!!
    Oh, and BTW, it’s official – the Pats STILL haven’t beaten ONE SINGLE GOOD TEAM this season and WON’T. LMFAO!!!!
    Cue COWARD IMPOSTER…in 3…2…1

  31. leatherneck says: Jan 10, 2010 9:00 PM

    Keep the challenge system. It works.

  32. Shaun Lowrie says: Jan 10, 2010 9:12 PM

    Marvin Lewis says he wouldn’t have challenged that.
    It was in the second quarter, he would be well out of challenges by that point.

  33. AutumnWind999 says: Jan 10, 2010 9:16 PM

    It shouldn’t have to be that way. If the NFL is serious about using available technology to get it right, the technology should be applied in any instance where the officials on the field possibly have gotten it wrong.
    So coaches like Harbaugh shouldn’t have to rely on someone eyeballing a replay and concluding on the fly whether to use one of only two challenges (three if the first two are used properly) available to each team.
    ———————–
    Yeah, let’s go back to the system that got canned because it slowed down the game to a snail’s pace because officials go into Cover My A– mode and review about 20 calls per game. Ever watch a college game lately. Every other play is reviewed. It blows.

  34. RockPile says: Jan 10, 2010 9:19 PM

    “But why the Ravens didnt have a network feed that everyone else could see is baffling. ”
    It’s not baffling. It’s New England.

  35. NFL_1974 says: Jan 10, 2010 9:30 PM

    Why did he have to challenge in the first place? There is a god damn ref STANDING RIGHT THERE 3 feet away from the freaking play. God, why cant these refs get the calls right? And why is it whenever they get it wrong, its ALWAYS in the favor of the Pats? I loved Phil Simms comment when the ref got the first down call wrong that fortunately was over turned… ” The refs will always go with the side of caution”. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK….yeah, only when its in the favor of the Pats. God these refs make me sick.
    SO GLAD THE PATS LOST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BA BYE

  36. bornman3 says: Jan 10, 2010 9:57 PM

    The challenge system is fine. I am a huge Ravens fan, and disappointed in our coaches in the booth. Harbaugh has been through some tough times this season, but I put no blame on him here other than picking the coaches to help review.
    Teams with great coaching staffs, make better decisions. And the challenge system helps to highlight those choices. And even thought there was one questionable call, the Ravens coaches put their players in a better postion to win the game.

  37. DirtMcGirt24 says: Jan 10, 2010 10:02 PM

    As an intermediate step, perhaps refs could make calls and throw flags using what the see, not what they THINK they see.

  38. DirtMcGirt24 says: Jan 10, 2010 10:11 PM

    And another thing – who cares if the games get extended perhaps an extra 5-10 minutes a game if all questionable plays were reviewed? What else do you have to do on Sunday that those 5-10 minutes will jeopardize that the other 180-200 doesn’t already?

  39. Murabma says: Jan 10, 2010 10:12 PM

    Mort was reporting on Twitter that the Ravens coaches upstairs never got to see the replay, which is really the only possible reason that the play wasn’t challenged. How typical. Looks like the Pats* were up to their usual cheatin’ ways, which should surprise exactly no one at this point. I do, however, really wish that someone in the media would do a little more to call them out on what any even casual fan can see in terms of (a) biased officiating favoring NE* (look no further than the high percentage of the posts above that come to that conclusion) and (b) NE*’s general skirting of the rules over the years–both the stuff they’ve been caught doing and the stuff they’ve been suspected of (one of which was shutting off the opponent’s headsets at key times in a game–two coaches accused them of that),…

  40. geogibso says: Jan 10, 2010 10:39 PM

    College has the same replay rule described in the post and they don’t have 5+ hour games.
    Tha only reason their games are longer are becuase of the rules for first downs and out-of-bounds. If you are that ignorant of the rules you shouldn’t be allowed to post anything on this site. Check your facts next time and keep your mouth shut.

  41. Fidelito says: Jan 10, 2010 10:45 PM

    This is actually my least favorite idea of yours. Players make mistakes, coaches do, front office people, why shouldn’t refs? The game can’t be made to be perfect. Unless we drop the humans involved in the NFL and just start televising Madden games? Replay adds another strategic element to the game, and the rule as it is takes care of a lot of the major errors. It’s hard to say what you really want, other than to fill more column space. I can’t imagine you actually believe essentially every play should be reviewed. Stupid even for you Florio.

  42. ParkerFly says: Jan 10, 2010 10:46 PM

    axonjackson you made the dumbest post ever on here.

  43. SkinsFanInNebraska says: Jan 10, 2010 11:42 PM

    Did somebody here actually say that NCAAF games have 12 minute quarters? Come on!
    The NFL should adopt the same system that the NCAA uses. If getting the calls right is their goal, as they claim, then they need to adopt a system that gives them the best chance to do so. Having a replay official take a quick look at every play to determine if a closer review is needed makes sense, and does not extend the time of the game. You can still have the coaches’ challenges as well. College football does that, too.

  44. Favre On HGH says: Jan 10, 2010 11:50 PM

    When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

  45. Cleric John Preston says: Jan 10, 2010 11:51 PM

    Ummm everyone relax.
    There was ONE, ONE worthwhile post above that suggested a solution, and of course, the dregs of this community ignored it.
    FORCE HOME TEAMS TO PLAY REPLAYS ON THE VIDEO BOARDS
    Its that simple. The end. Simple solution.
    And of course I believe Mort about the Ravens not getting the replay feed. More Patriots cheating.

  46. tigerlilac says: Jan 11, 2010 12:09 AM

    I’ll take a Belichick whiff given it means having nine straight winning seasons, four trips to the Super Bowl, three Super Bowl wins, and only one “one and done” in seven playoff appearances during those nine years. It also means winning his division and earning the number 3 seed in the AFC while reloading his team with youth and depth.
    As for all the talk about bad calls by refs, there is one person I have never heard complain about a ref’s call after a game, Bill Belichick. He doesn’t complain about refs, injuries, or the the weather’s effect on winning or losing, and he certainly isn’t fixated on any other team other than the one he is playing that week.

  47. ZombieRevolution says: Jan 11, 2010 11:59 AM

    “…the technology should be applied in any instance where the officials on the field possibly have gotten it wrong.”
    So we should review every play, in case a holding or pass interferance is missed?
    Florio you are a genius, not in the NFL sense (there you are are from it), but in the sense of generating webhits. You are a god, but stay out of NFL rules please.

  48. smashmouth football says: Jan 11, 2010 12:16 PM

    I completely agree with the posters who advocate the NCAA replay system. It doesn’t drag out college games, I think it would improve NFL games as well. And Florio is right when he argues, “The fact that the NFL automatically subjects questionable calls to replay review without a demand from the team in the final two minutes of each half and in overtime makes our case in this regard.” Ravens were lucky this didn’t come back and bite them in the ass. (Disclosure: Ravens fan.)

  49. tigerlilac says: Jan 11, 2010 2:37 PM

    Arrington ‘s knee came down in bounds with possession of the ball. He would not need to keep possession when he did a face plant out of bounds if he was touched while down in bounds. I am not even sure he would need to keep possession after he went out of bounds if he was not touched given he had possession with his knee clearly down in bounds but I will leave that up to someone who knows the rules better than me.
    Does anybody have a link to the replay so we can see for ourselves?

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