For the second time this NFL season I cheered out loud in response to a Bucs performance. In a play right out of the Gators’ national championship game, Ike Hilliard broke free for a long catch-and-run touchdown to complete the Bucs improbable comeback… and the walls erected around my cynicism fell down.
It lasted about thirty minutes.
About ten minutes into the overtime period, the Bears completed what initially looked like a controversial play… a long pass putting them in field goal range (and that much closer to the Bucs losing a game in sudden-death overtime). Immediately after the play, Tampa Twin Ronde jumped up wildly gesturing that the ball hit the ground, thus voiding the play. The officials on the field didn’t agree. The one replay shown by Fox at least gave the impression that it deserved another look, from another (TV) angle. It appeared that the Bucs only hope was that the NFL’s instant replay rule would come to the rescue. However, the crafty Bears ran up to the line to run the next play, giving the replay officials less time to look at the play and call time out (by rule, a play can not be stopped for a replay review once the ball is snapped on the ensuing play). As the Bears ran up to the line I was yelling at my TV (again)… “JON, CALL THE TIME OUT!!! YOU’VE GOT ONE LEFT!!! WHAT ARE YOU SAVING IT FOR!!! PLEASE GOD… CALL THE TIME OUT!!! GIVE THE REFS MORE TIME!!! IT’S OUR ONLY HOPE!!!”
As you can well imagine, he didn’t hear me. He didn’t call time out. The replay officials didn’t stop the game for a review. The Bears scored, the game ended, and the Bucs lost… again. I have no idea whether the replay officials would have taken another look if Gruden called time out… but it has happened. I think it might have happened in a Bucs game earlier this year (initiated by the other coach, of course).
Oh well, it looks like we may be two games away from clinching (at least) the number three pick in the next entry draft. There’s always next year. Maybe they’ll draft more bait for the backfield…
–ig sEXTENDED BODY: