I will do my best to make sense of the following post, but no promises.
In Sunday's postgame blog I questioned Marvin Lewis for not challenging the spot on the Braylon Edwards 4th quarter reception that essentially clinched a Cleveland victory.
In Monday's blog titled "Browns 51 Points, Bengals 45 Points-Part Deux," I opened with these words:
"I was planning on blasting Marvin Lewis in this space for not challenging the spot on Braylon Edwards' 7 yard reception on 3rd & 8, with 3:11 remaining in the 4th quarter, which somehow--thanks to them cheatin' refs--resulted in a first down. That gift spot essentially sealed the victory for Cleveland, and it made me want to punch several people, namely the refs and Marvin Lewis.
But then something happened--I went back and watched the game, and it revealed that I'm an idiot. In my head, the Bengals still had one challenge remaining. I thought Marvin's previous challenge, a failed effort, came late in the 2nd quarter and not early in the 3rd. And since you can't challenge two plays in the same half, Marvin was up shit creek.
I apologize, Marvin."
And after some friendly banter (scroll to the top after clicking the link) with Bengals.com message board peoples, we finally got to the bottom of it.
(Note: I have no idea why I ever thought that coaches are only allowed one replay challenge per half.)
Essentially we discovered that you can challenge two plays in one half, even if you lost the first challenge--all you need in order to challenge a second time in one half is a timeout to potentially lose.
When I found that out, I blew a fuse. In related news, I think my face exploded (I'm not even sure what that means but I'm not taking it out). But listen, the Bengals had one timeout remaining when Edwards was given the generous spot. And instead of challenging the spot, which was the only way to keep alive a realistic shot at winning, Marvin decided to use the final timeout.
Let's take a closer look at Marvin's two options after the Browns were handed a first down:
1. He could call timeout with hopes of forcing a three-and-out and maybe getting the ball back with one minute left, buried in their own territory. Or...
2. He could challenge the shaky spot, and if the play was overturned (which was plausible) his superstar QB (during his record-setting day) would be handed the ball with nearly three minutes remaining. And, okay, I realize a failed challenge would have officially ended the game, but it was easily worth the risk.
Here's where it becomes a million times worser than the worstest thing ever.
Did you hear Marvin's press conference Monday afternoon? I would suggest skipping ahead to the 4:05 mark, right before Chick Ludwig asks the following question: "Marvin, did you consider challenging the spot on Braylon Edwards...?"
Warning...if you root for the Cincinnati Bengals, Marvin's answer will make you want to blow up your neighbor's house with dynamite, followed by an assassination of their cat, who's name may or may not be Mittens.
If you don't want to bother listening to his pathetic answer, here's exactly what he had to say: "He ruled forward progress, and that's the ball spot, and that's where he put it. So at that point it's kind of a dead issue."
Even if you had trouble interpreting Marvin's mumbling nonsense, one thing was loud and clear: Marvin thinks that forward progress is unreviewable.
Wait, what? Has he not watched football games before? Has he not read the rules regarding instant replay? They're not that long, really. Take a look for yourself...
The NFL replay system currently only covers the following situations:
1. Scoring plays
2. Pass complete/incomplete/intercepted
3. Runner/receiver out of bounds
4. Recovery of a loose ball in or out of bounds
5. Touching of a forward pass, either by an ineligible receiver or a defensive player
6. Quarterback pass or fumble
7. Illegal forward pass
8. Forward or backward pass
9. Runner ruled not down by contact
10. Forward progress in regard to a first down
11. Touching of a kick
12. Other plays involving placement of the football
13. Whether a legal number of players are on the field at the time of the snap
Jesus, that took forever to read. I'm fucking exhausted. Pass me the Sunny D before I start cramping up.
All joking aside, Marvin's answer is unacceptable. And I'm wondering how all the media-types failed to ask a follow up question. I mean, we're not talking about an obscure rule in golf; this is instant replay in the NFL...even casual fans know those rules. Does he think we were born last Tuesday?
Look, I routinely ripped Marvin last season for his piss-poor (not good) clock management, which warranted far more attention than it received. But this year I had a clean slate waiting for him. I thought maybe he'd learn from his mistakes and lead this team to the promised land (or something gay like that). Regardless, his reasoning for not challenging the spot is absurd, even though it's hard to believe he doesn't know the rule.
My gut feeling is that he panicked, called timeout and was forced to live with his decision. But if he really didn't think that he could challenge the play, well, I just don't know what to do with that information. Is that grounds for suspension? Termination? Corporal punishment? I don't know, it's tough to say. What I do know is this: it's hard supporting a guy who likely struggled on the Iowa tests?
And like Pete Mackanin's handling of Josh Hamilton's playing time, this will barely get mentioned on talk radio.