Ravens: 92 yards and a cloud of uncertainty
Okay, before I begin whining about the NFL's ridiculous instant replay system, let's stipulate that the Pittsburgh Steelers drove 92 yards to score the winning touchdown in final minutes of a hard-fought game. The Ravens left that door wide open by settling for field goals in a couple of promising situations and by leaving the defense on the field way too much in the second half. No excuses for that and -- to their credit -- the Ravens didn't make any.
Now, upon further review, the officials covered their rear ends by changing their explanation of the decisive play after the game. The original announcement was that receiver Santonio Holmes (right) had both feet in the end zone and possession of the ball, which supposedly made it a touchdown whether the ball broke the plane of the goal line or not.
Of course, the rule is that the ball must break the plane, so referee Walt Coleman told pool reporter Jamison Hensley that he misspoke originally and the ruling was that the ball did, in fact, break the plane, even though there wasn't a single replay that showed that conclusively. Remember, the ball was not ruled a touchdown on the field, so the replay is supposed to show overwhelming evidence that the call was incorrect.
Funny, but when the Ravens challenged a first down call in the second quarter on a one-yard run by Gary Russell, the replay looked to everyone like the ball was stopped more than a yard short of the first down. It seemed pretty conclusive, but the same officials ruled that it was not conclusive enough to overturn the original call. If you watched the game, you know that there was no way anyone could say for sure whether the ball broke the plane on the Holmes catch, but the officials had to come back after the game and claim it was conclusive because they announced an incorrect ruling on the field.
Maybe the Steelers run a quarterback sneak on the next play and win the game. Maybe they kick a field goal and win in overtime, since the Ravens couldn't move the ball against them anyway. Give them credit for being a good team that found a way to win a big game on the road. But please, please, commissioner Goodell, tweak this replay system so that this kind of thing doesn't happen any more.