Eagles-Cardinals: Officials Rearing Heads

ExtremeRavens .comCorrespondent IJanuary 18, 2009

A quick take on the kickoff controversy.

First and foremost, when it comes to rules and on-field rulings: never trust Joe Buck.

In case you missed it, it was a bit of a wacky play. The Cardinals, following a score to go up 21-6, pooched the kickoff toward the sideline. The ball appears to hit in bounds at approximately the 28-yard line, bounce and hit an Eagles blocker whose foot is out of bounds, and then stay in bounds to be recovered by the Cardinals.

Now, the officials got it wrong. But unfortunately for Arizona fans, the ball should not have gone to the Cardinals anyway.

Official Walt Anderson, after a lengthy conversation with his crew and later with both coaches, announced that the ball was ruled out of bounds after touching an Eagles player and that, by rule the ball belonged to the Eagles at that mark.

He also said that such a ruling was unable to be challenged after Arizona head coach Ken Wisenhunt dropped his little red hanky.

By the way, if Anderson’s announced version of the events is correct, his ruling is correct. Unfortunately, that’s not how it happened on the field.

Additionally, a flag was on the field that was never mentioned by Anderson. That is likely because Anderson’s ruling is that the player touched the ball before it went out of bounds.

Looking at the replays, the officials got it wrong.

First, the ball does not touch the Eagles blocker until after the Eagles player establishes himself out of bounds. At the point of contact, the ball is then out of bounds and the ball is dead. Additionally, by rule, the kick has gone out of bounds and a flag should be thrown for illegal procedure on the kickoff.

Ravens fans should remember this rule from several years ago. A Matt Stover kick appeared to be headed for the end zone when an opposing player stood out of bounds and reached in to touch the kick, thus establishing the kick as out of bounds.

So, what’s the point? Well, apologies to the Cardinals, but its actually the Eagles that got the raw deal. The Eagles should have been given the ball 12 yards further up field.

Walt Anderson did get one thing right: once the ball is established as out of bounds, whether its by going out itself or by touching a player, the play is dead. There is no way the ball should have been awarded to the Cardinals.

…Get it?