I’m still amazed at the tumult and discussion over what I will henceforth simply call “the timeout,” the stoppage of play that rendered Sebastian Janikowski’s 52-yard kick through the north end zone uprights meaningless late Sunday afternoon.
“A crazy timeout; I don’t know,” opined Kenny Mayne on SportsCenter Monday as he narrated the sequence of Janikowki’s miss and Jason Elam’s successful 23-yarder. “Maybe they should identify when the timeout was called.”
Uh, Kenny … they did.
Perhaps it’s because I clearly saw official Byron Boston waving his arms to stop the clock from my press-box perch. While 74,000 of the people inside the stadium had some kind of visceral reaction to the play, I just shrugged. It didn’t count. It wouldn’t count. And if referee Walt Anderson ruled that it did, instant replay would show otherwise.
To me, the whole thing wasn’t a big deal. Yes, Elam has said that opponents’ attempts to ice him are futile — which is probably why the Raiders didn’t follow suit with a timeout of their own on the following possession. Nevertheless, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do — wait until the last possible second and then get the stoppage?
Which brings me to the first inkling I had of any controversy.
As the hours passed from merely late to workaholically insane late Sunday night inside the INVESCO Field at Mile High press box, I paused to hear the end of KCNC-Channel 4′s postgame show, Broncos All-Access, where the station replays phoned-in comments from fans sounding off about the game.
The last comment dripped with vitriol. The lady yelled into the phone, accusing Mike Shanahan of cheating and poor sportsmanship. (She then said, “You’ll never run this.” She underestimates those of us in the mic-and-laptop set. We love contrarian opinions delivered in a needlessly emotional and over-the-top manner. The more loony the reaction, the more likely we are to use it. Basically, we’re only opposed to boring.)
Even my girlfriend wondered about the ethics of the timeout — and she was pulling fervently for the Broncos, evidence of which exists in a series of text messages that became increasingly frazzled as the game’s tension increased.
Now, I had this piece written hours ago. But when she raised the objection, I wanted to talk further with her about it before firing this missive. (Sorry about pilfering your word, J. Mike.) What struck her as wrong about the play? She’s rational and intelligent; her medical doctorate is proof of that.
To her, it was just the fact that it came so late — and from the sidelines. I can respect that perspective, but I’m still not down with it.
(That being said, after seeing how someone as rational and logical as her can see this issue differently, I’ve softened this blog entry a bit. The original one was angry and flustered, not unlike my reaction to hearing Hells Bells over the P.A. sytem Sunday.)
Shanahan played within the rules of professional football — rules which were specifically rejiggered this offseason to permit what he did. If Lane Kiffin or Dick Jauron had done the same thing, you wouldn’t hear an objection from me.
It couldn’t be more clear. Coaches can call timeouts. Shanahan was positioned next to Boston. The Broncos took their timeout. The official signaled for a stoppage of play. If anything is to blame for the Raiders’ execution of the soon-to-be-nullified kick, it’s the crowd for doing exactly what it’s supposed to do in that situation — raising a jet-engine-level ruckus.
If the Broncos call that timeout and the game is on the road, Boston’s whistle is heard throughout the stadium. Even Oakland’s Barry Sims admitted hearing the whistle.
Maybe it’s just because everyone’s on heightened cheat-watch alert in the wake of the Patriot Caper and the subsequent punishment handed to Bill Belichick.
But let’s not get carried away trying to turn a perfectly legal strategem into something devious.
FYI … Unless something unforeseen arises, I will be responding to blog comments Tuesday afternoon after getting back to my desk … I’m not ignoring the posts; I’ve just been fairly busy since the end of the game.