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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Jimmy Traina

NFL Rules Analyst Gives Us the Most Hilariously Awkward Television Moment of the Season

1. I have spent many a Traina Thoughts column this season ranting and raving about poor officiating and the complete uselessness of the NFL TV rules analyst.

I honestly don’t want to be mean and I don’t want to see anyone lose their jobs. I just think if networks are going to insist on using a rules analyst, there has to be a better way for them to serve the viewers, because what they do now is just a disaster.

Normally, the rules analyst will come on, defend the refs no matter what, and viewers are left baffled and angry.

However, yesterday gave us a moment that you just had to laugh at. It completely encapsulated everything wrong with the refs, instant replay and rules analysts.

The only people who saw this were those trying to see whether the Chargers would cover the 4.5-point spread against the Patriots, or whether New England bettors would get a gift, so let me set the scene.

Chargers lead the embarrassing Patriots 6–0 in a true pig of a game. New England has the ball with just under three minutes left. On third-and-2 from the Patriots’ 35-yard line, New England quarterback Bailey Zappe throws a short, incomplete pass to DeVante Parker. Refs throw a flag and call pass interference on the Chargers. Los Angeles coach Brandon Staley challenges the ruling on the field because he said a Chargers defensive player tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage, which would negate the pass interference penalty.

CBS shows a bunch of replays that seemed inconclusive, but then one shot appeared to show a Chargers lineman getting a finger on the ball. Play-by-play man Spero Dedes and analyst Adam Archuleta both say the ball was tipped so Los Angeles won’t get hit with the penalty. 

So, naturally, the refs then announces the play stands as calls, meaning the ball wasn’t tipped and there was pass interference.

What followed on the broadcast was just surreal.

Dedes: All right, let's bring in Gene. What did you see on that replay?

Steratore: A great job by our cameramen, quite frankly, to get that pinkie or ring finger and that grazing of the football which does remove a foul for pass interference. And a great job by our camera people and a great ruling on the field of a tip in real time, guys.

Archuleta: But, Gene, they ...

Dedes: Gene, they blew the call.

View the original article to see embedded media.

What a mess. Steratore thought the refs got the original call right. Then he thought replay confirmed the correct call on the original ruling. Then he heaped praise on the officials.

Meanwhile, they got it wrong on the field AND with replay!

The reactions of Archuleta and Dedes, though, were genuinely hysterical.

And I don't think I need to say another word about NFL TV rules analysts.

2. I try my hardest to be fair, so I need to tip my cap to NBC today. Back in October, after the Chiefs played the Jets on Sunday Night FootballI wrote a piece saying NBC embarrassed itself with its over-the-top coverage of Taylor Swift, who was in attendance.

SNF play-by-play man Mike Tirico even referenced the column when I had him on last week’s SI Media Podcast, and we had a spirited back-and-forth about the issue.

So it was very nice to see that with Swift in the building for last night’s Chiefs-Packers game at Lambeau, NBC coverage of the pop star was fine. It was limited. Everyone remained calm. And most importantly, it didn’t intrude on the broadcast.

3. There was some controversy at the end of that Chiefs-Packers game when the refs didn’t throw a flag on an obvious pass interference by Green Bay.

I point this out not to hammer the officials again, but to highlight this quote from the extremely likable Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs’ quarterback didn’t whine and complain after the game and gave a solid quote.

4. Last Thursday’s Seahawks-Cowboys game is now the most-watched game ever on Amazon Prime Video drawing 15.26 million viewers.

The game was up 53% over last year’s comparable TNF game between the Bills and Patriots, which drew 9.97 million viewers.

5. The 10–2 Missouri Tigers will play the 11–1 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29.

Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz revealed how his team will prepare for the game while chatting with ESPN’s Rece Davis on Sunday.

6. If you missed it on Saturday, CBS aired its final SEC game. The package goes to ESPN starting next season. So CBS called on the longtime voice of its marquee 3:30 p.m. ET game, Verne Lundquist, to narrate the opening of Alabama-Georgia.

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