The 'Tony Dungy Rule' Makes NFL Look Like World Cup
Like a cheap NBA trick, the otherwise inert Chicago Bears had quarterback Rex Grossman lob a water balloon downfield in hopes they would "draw a foul" and the referees would help them yet again. But New England Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel made the better adjustment to the punt-like jump ball and sealed the Patriots 17-13 win.
Samuel intercepted Grossman three times Sunday, and the New England defense had completely shut down Chicago's offenses, but for three extremely questionable penalties that totaled 80 yards, 3 first downs and led to 10 free points. Meanwhile, Tom Brady was 22 of 33 for 269 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions against the No. 1 passing defense in the league.
Brady also ran 6 times for 12 yards (includes three clock-killing kneel-downs for -3 yards), once for 11 yards on a 3rd-and-9 conversion on which he faked Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher out of his cleats, and another for 3 yards on 3rd-and-2, both of which set up Brady's 2-yard toss to Ben Watson for the game-winning touchdown.
Tom Brady runs on a huge 3rd-down conversion as Chicago linebacker
Brian Urlacher (54) looks on helplessly after Brady faked him out, and
quite comically. Urlacher is probably pretty good in the NFC though.
But for a couple lucky turnovers, a couple good ones (on great Bears defensive plays) and the help from the officials, New England was in complete control of this one from beginning to end. The Patriots were driving early in the first quarter after Samuel's first interception, when Brady's connection to Watson popped almost straight into the air, almost directly to Charles Tillman.
Chicago responded with a long drive, aided by a couple unbelievable 3rd-and-long conversions, but the spark fizzled just outside the red zone, and Richard Seymour, still playing with a huge brace on his left arm, blocked Robbie Gould's field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless.
Brady's other interception late in the third quarter, a rocket aimed a little high for Troy Brown, was deflected twice before flying directly to Tillman again. That led to the most bogus scoring drive I've seen in quite some time.
Stalled (again) on 3rd-and-8 just past midfield, Grossman hucked a wounded duck up for grabs. The ball was terribly underthrown, and Patriots safety Artrell Hawkins looked back and made a play on the ball. Bears receiver Benard Berrian whined for a call, and the officials flagged Hawkins for pass interference -- a 45-yard theft.
At the time it seemed odd, because 8 minutes earlier, Tillman did the same thing to Pats receiver Chad Jackson, except that he didn't look back and didn't make a play on the ball, but there was no flag.
This clear instance of pass interference was ignored by the officials.
Chicago's Charles Tillman never looked for the ball and never made
never made a play on it. He simply hooked Chad Jackson's arm.
Two plays later, Grossman three another poor ball way out in front of Mushin Muhammed, but New England cornerback Ellis Hobbs was called for illegal contact, and that gave the Bears another gift first down inside the Patriots 5. Even color/analyst Troy Aikman, who was calling the game like he was a Chicago cheerleader, said both calls were pretty bad.
Alas, but it did not end there. On Chicago's next drive midway through the fourth quarter, the Bears and the officials conspired to do the same exact thing. This time, Berrian flopped like he was in a World Cup Soccer game, and the officials obliged, flagging Hobbs for a 30-yard pass interference penalty that laid a red carpet into red zone for just the third time all day.
But the Bears offense fell dormant again; or, rather, the Patriots defense showed what champion defenses look like and shut the door again, and Chicago had to "settle" for a field goal that brought them to within a touchdown of a win.
Alas, but it did not end there. On Chicago's next and final drive late in the fourth quarter, they tried it again. This time, Grossman's pass was so poorly underthrown that Bears receiver Rashied Davis couldn't "create contact" and Samuel nabbed his third interception of the day, tying a Patriots team record.
For some reason, the officials insist on making themselves part of the game; and, it seems, the bigger the game, the larger impact and brighter spotlight they want.
But let's face it, every since Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning whined like a couple 3-year-olds after the 2002 AFC Championship, the Patriots have been defrauded on similar plays constantly and consistently, just that it's now spread against all opponents.
Besides the single-sidedness of the pass interference calls, every reviewed play went against New England. Two pass completions were overturned; but Chicago's similar play at the end of the first quarter was not, though it was clear the ball touched the grass and Berrian bobbled it, and the call should have been reversed.
The two overturned Pats completions came in the last two minutes of the first half and were prompted by the video replay official in the booth above the field. But when Corey Dillon fumbled in the last two minutes of the game, the replay official didn't extend the same courtesy of even checking the play for the Patriots.
There were also a few ball spots that greatly favored Chicago, but the announcers said nothing, and the Patriots couldn't challenge all of them.
Samuel's interception hat trick was the first since Ty Law's in the 2002 AFC Championship win over Indianapolis. Roland James last achieved the feat in the regular season on Oct. 23, 1983 at Buffalo.
Pass interference should ...
This poll is closed
be kept exactly as it is.
require more than just a jersey tug or a hand check.
be called more consistently .. somehow.
be called only when a defender is clearly impeding the receiver.
be limited to 15 yards and a first down.
be limited to 15 yards (an only a first down if line to gain is made).
be limited to automatic first down.
be eliminated completely.