TheState- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera would have liked for safety Mike Adams to bat down New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees’ fourth-down pass in the final two minutes of the Saints’ 31-26 wild-card win.
Rivera also would have liked for the officials to review the play to make sure Adams actually intercepted it. Actually, Rivera said he “would have loved” for the NFL’s replay center to look at it.
Later Monday, the NFL confirmed the the replay center had done so.
Rivera said he told the side judge that officials should review it.
“I said, ‘Hey, you guys need to take a look at that because I’m being told he dropped the ball.’ And he just said, ‘Well, we’ll see,’” Rivera said Monday. “And he actually did say something into his mic. I have no idea what he said. But I did bring it up. I got no information on that (play).
I know, I know. I'm not exactly an unbiased observer that is fluent in the art of refereeing football. Luckily for me, and Ron Rivera, I'm pretty sure that means I'm only a striped shirt and whistle away from being qualified to call games at the NFL level. At the very least, I have better command of 'forward progress' than Jeff Triplette so maybe his upcoming retirement is actually the opening I needed to get into the profession.
With that said, let this explanation of late-game officiating to a losing head coach that's frantically searching for a scapegoat serve as my resume...
You see, Ron Rivera, the best way to force a 4th down incompletion is to instruct your players not to intercept it in the first place. I'm not here to declaratively state whether or not Panthers' safety Mike Adams completed the process of a catch. As even the most casual of fans know, trying to definitively do so is a fool's errand. So, when it's on behalf of a defensive team that is trying to overturn their own goddamn turnover, it's an errand that oft-scrutinized officials are less likely to run out of fear of - once again - looking foolish. While I suppose it would have been nice of the crew to save a team from its own lack of situational awareness, it's certainly shouldn't be their priority.
This might come as a surprise to Ron Rivera, but leaving a judgement call up to those that have - up until that point - granted you a 91 yard edge in penalty yards during a tightly contested road playoff game probably isn't the greatest idea. Maybe Cam Newton was out of the tackle box, maybe he wasn't. Either way it came down to a matter of inches, and those inches didn't change the fact that his attempt to make a play from the pocket literally got dragged into a desperate attempt to avoid a sack as soon as a loss of yardage appeared imminent. Devin Funchess couldn't have caught that ball with the most elongated of pool skimmers and Cam Newton damn well knew that as he "tried" to throw a 30 yard pass while falling backwards with a 290 pound All-Pro salivating on his chest. If Ron Rivera thinks that was in the "area of a receiver" then he might as well start getting directions from my un-licensed grandmother, because apparently he isn't too keen on time, space, or distance. Whether or not it was ever-so-slightly outside the imperfect box used to fit the description of 'intentional grounding', the officials stuck to the spirit of the rules in deciding that for just the second time all evening the Panthers - god forbid - actually broke them.
Hopefully I cleared that up for the coach who was trying to defer blame by pleading for more video reviews when the rest of the football-loving world is sick of staring at the ass of a ref while he squints at a monitor and - more or less - tries to save teams from themselves by the centimeter.