Normally, I'm not an instant replay basher, but Sunday night's game between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers highlighted a problem with the NFL replay system that really must be corrected to maintain the credibility of the sport.
Everybody knows that there is some homecooking built into the replay protocol, but it shouldn't be allowed to change the outcome of the game the way it did on Sunday night. The Packers got a phony touchdown when Andrew Quarless landed out of the end zone and bobbled a touchdown pass out of the sight of the officials.
NBC went to a commercial quickly after the touchdown and didn't show a definitive replay until after the commercial break. The Packers lined up and kicked the extra point before the Vikings could challenge the play. If the roles had been reversed, the replay would have gone up on the scoreboard to alert the home team.
OK, so the system gave the Packers at least the difference between a touchdown and a field goal (four points) in a four-point game, but that's just part of the problem. The Vikings also had two disputed plays in the end zone, but the Packers had sufficient time to challenge and two touchdowns were overturned. One of them was clearly the right call. No problem with that. The other was a great catch by Visanthe Shiancoe that was overturned because the officials claimed that the ground helped him catch the ball.
Personally, I don't think there was compelling evidence to overturn the play. The guy had possession all the way and simply landed on the ball. The announcers opined that it might have moved in his hands slightly. I couldn't see that, so I have trouble thinking it was obvious enough on replay to take away a great play. That was another four points, since the Vikings kicked a field goal instead.
If you want to go outside the confines of last night's game, you don't have to go far. The Miami Dolphins feel they got a win stolen from them yesterday because of a poorly administered replay on that goal line fumble by Ben Roethlisberger.
There is no perfect system, of course, but it should not be this imperfect and -- in this case -- so favor the home team that it decides a very high-profile game. The point of the replay system is to get plays right, not to create a whole new dimension of home-field gamesmanship.
I don't have that much sympathy for Brett Favre, whose selfish I'm-going-to-make-a-big-play-no-matter-what-the-risk style of quarterbacking both kept the Vikings in the game and ultimately took them out of it. I know it's being reported that he was playing on a damaged ankle, but that doesn't change the fact that his gunslinger mentality is a two-edged sword that ultimately cut the wrong way on Monday night.