In his Tuesday morning MMQB column, SI.com's Peter King speculates that a rule change could be coming in the offseason after a blown call in the Eagles-Falcons game.
For those of you who missed it or are living under a rock, the refs ruled that Falcons return man Adam Jennings muffed a punt with 2:28 left in the fourth quarter. The Eagles' offense took over, Brian Westbrook found the end zone, and the rest is history. Replays showed Jennings clearly did not touch the ball. Had the officials made the right call, the Falcons' offense would have had possession at its own 37-yard-line with a chance to win the game.
So where does the possible rule change come in? Falcons coach Mike Smith was out of timeouts, which is understandable since he was trying to preserve the clock late in the game, so he could not challenge the play. Why didn't the official in the booth call for a replay? There were more than two minutes left. Officials can only call for replay without a coaching challenge with less than two minutes left in each half.
King argues that the official in the booth should be allowed to call for replays in the last five minutes of the game instead of the last two minutes. Here's what he says:
Currently, the timing of plays in the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half differs from how the clock is run at other times of the game. After penalties and after runners go out of bounds in the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half, the clock does not start until the snap of the next play. Before that, the clock starts upon placement of the ball. What I think you'll see now is debate seeking the same rules for instant replay -- let the replay official upstairs call for reviews on his own in the last two minutes of the first and in the last five minutes of the second half. In the Atlanta-Philadelphia case, it would have allowed for Smith to use his timeouts in good conscience, knowing he'd be protected in the event of an egregious call.
What do you think? Have a better solution?
In other news...
It looks like Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will not return Sunday to face the Birds. According to the article, he won't need surgery for a bulging disc in his back, but Hasselbeck has not been cleared to practice or play. This will be the fourth straight missed game for Hasselbeck.