|Dez Gets Processed|
> Just like last week, there's really no way to argue with a clear conscience that justice was served. Dallas WR Dez Bryant makes a ridiculously good play that should either give Dallas a touchdown or first and goal from the one, and the refs reversed it. The precedent to this (the Calvin Johnson catch in 2010) was terrible, and never fixed.
(By the way, this now puts Dallas in the same place as Oakland on the Tuck Game. Add it to ReversalGate1 and the Fail Mary, and we are really racking up the Screwjobs now, aren't we?)
So if you want to see the intent of a play rewarded -- i.e., the offense won that down, just as the defense won the down last week -- it's the kind of thing that makes you feel stupid for watching, or caring, about the outcome. Because it just seems scripted, or arbitrary, or nonsensical. All of which isn't what you are paying for when you agree to watch sports. (And yes, you are paying for it. A lot, every year, to cable companies, if nothing else.)
> Having said that... the impact isn't really the same, because the rationale behind throwing to the end zone at that moment is idiotic. Dallas has a fourth and two from the Green Bay 32 with a little over four minutes left. They trail by five points. Going for it on fourth down isn't the issue, especially since your kicker has missed earlier in the game. The play call is.
Instead of running it with RB DeMarco Murray (25 carries for 123 yards, only stopped by his coach most of the day) or RB Joseph Randle (2 carries for 15 yards, criminally underused as he usually is, given that he has ability, doesn't fumble, and is rarely singled out by the defense), or working a short pass to TE Jason Witten (6 catches for 71 yards, effective and trusted over many years) or WR Cole Beasley (3 catches for 38 yards, having a solid day on infrequent use)... QB Tony Romo goes for it all.
Here's the thing with that play: what happens if it works? Bryant scores, Dallas goes for a 2-point conversion given the time and condition of the game, and leads on the road, 29-26 or 27-26, with four minutes left. The Pack has just gone 80 yards in 8 plays to take the lead in the first place -- and the drive before that was 7 plays for 90 yards for another touchdown. So even if your low percentage, super gutsy gambling fourth down play works... you've given the MVP of the league all the time in the world to come back and tie it up, or win, in regulation. Against your suspect defense that hasn't gotten a stop in a really long time.
If it's my team, I run it there; maybe with a bit of misdirection, or from a 3-WR set, but I run it. I probably make it. I then run it some more, and given how I'm getting 5 yards a pop on the ground, maybe I grind out the clock and make Green Bay use up their timeouts while scoring my go-ahead touchdown. I put the game on more plays by my best unit. Because I'm not, well, an idiot.
> Had the Dallas defense made any stops after the reversal, the game isn't over. Green Bay converts on 3rd and 3 to WR Davonte Adams for 26 on missed tackling with 2:24 left; if they had gotten off the field there, you force a punt before the 2-minute warning and still have two timeouts to work with. Had you stopped WR Randall Cobb on the 3rd and 11 from the Dallas 38, you make the Packers think about a very long field goal, or an unsatisfying punt, and you still have Bryant and the strong chance of get-even DPI calls on a final drive. Instead, Cobb gets clear, Rodgers makes the throw, and the game is over. Basically, the Dallas coaching and defense wasn't good enough to win this game.
They were robbed, but they also lost it on their own merits. It's what usually happens after Screwjobs.
> Garrett's poor decisions weren't limited to just the fourth quarter. With a 3rd and 1 from the Packer 27 and 40 seconds left to go in the first half, he calls for pass instead of run, which fails. (By the way, Dallas converted on an unusual number of short third downs by running it much of the rest of the game. No, seriously.) After a missed field goal that didn't count due to a false start, Garrett compounds the problem by trying the figgie again, this time from 50. K Dan Bailey misses that one as well, and Green Bay takes over at their own 40 yard line with 29 seconds to go, and three timeouts. Rodgers manages to get his team in range, Packers K Mason Crosby connects, and the game is 14-10 Dallas at the half, rather than, well, 17-7, or even 14-7. Dallas lost this game by five points. Going pass instead of run on third and one, or maybe punting after the missed 45-yard figgie and flag, costs them three to six points. Kind of important points.
> I don't think either Screwjob will matter very much for this year, because neither of these teams (or, for that matter, Detroit) was going to win in Seattle, especially with the way that team is playing defense right now. But what these games have done, and in a year where the League has just been in a constant state of PR crisis, is put the integrity of the games into doubt.
This won't matter in the here and now of Ratings; the NFL is beyond bulletproof in terms of Appointment Live TV, and the demographic groups that spend and need to be found by advertisers aren't ditching the heroin-level addiction in this lifetime.
But young'uns and teens, who are dealing with an entire year of You Are Stupid For Watching This, with no end in sight?
Well, they are still in the realm of being able to change lifetime viewing habits.
And nothing about what's been going on, for a long time now, should make them want to stay.