Last night’s game was a great way to open the NFL season. Two playoff contenders battled it out, and at the end of the night, it was clear where the game hinged.
Early in the third quarter, the Broncos trailed the Ravens by three points. Then Wes Welker dropped a third down pass – except he didn’t. The officials called the play a completed pass, and the Ravens failed to challenge the play, despite clear evidence it was a drop. Sure, Peyton Manning snapped the next play off very quickly, 24 seconds later by NFL.com’s count, but that was still enough time for NBC to replay the “catch,” and the Ravens had spare time to make the call.
Now, the question becomes, should the NFL adopt college football’s “replay everything” system.
Personally, the answer is no. The current format the NFL uses is obtrusive enough. Anything inside the two-minute mark of either half, any scores and any turnovers are already reviewed. Any further, and the NFL will have to go to college football’s system.
Part of the charm of NFL football in comparison to the college game is the way the event flows. In college, there’s a clock stoppage for everything, and it can be maddening. Because NFL games continue to flow, a rhythm develops that isn’t present in college football.
By giving coaches the opportunity to challenge meaningful plays and let meaningless ones go, it prevents the booth from feeling obligated to challenge a two-yard completion. Yes, it means every call won’t be perfect, but frankly, no college game is called anywhere near perfectly, and they use replay on every down.
Football is made of a human element. In the perfect world, all referees would make perfect calls every game, but they’re part of the human element that has an impact on the game. The NFL’s current system works for me. It ensures the huge plays will be reviewed if they need to be, and it allows some of the lesser calls to be left alone, allowing the game to continue without constant interruptions.