Tuesday Odds & Ends, or "Run Off *These* 10 Seconds, Baby!"

In between Manteo's uncovering of yours truly as a massively influential '90s Northwest musician, here are other commentaries I feel like making, and things that happened in the news today. They are even Seahawks-related!

  • Last night's surprise mini-thread on the Bears/Cards game is of some interest. In case you were hiding in a cave -- which the Arizona offensive line was apparently doing as well -- the Cardinals blew a 20-0 halftime lead and lost the game, despite not allowing a single offensive TD and causing six turnovers. The final result concerned a couple of us who are closely watching the tiebreaker status between the Bears and Seahawks.

    The Bears' schedule does not really get difficult for quite some time. But, quite frankly, neither does the Seahawks'. The next game I'm really concerned about is December 3 in Denver. We all have a way to go yet.

    For the Cardinals' part, they have changed offensive coordinators lickety split.

  • Speaking of having a way to go yet, the NFL has suspended former Seahawk WR Koren Robinson for a year, stemming from his alleged violation of the substance abuse policy. Robinson has pleaded not guilty to charges incurred in a high-speed chase with police last August, when Robinson was a Viking. He is now a Packer -- at least on the letterhead.

    Anyway, kids, don't drink and drive and attempt to re-establish a football career that's crumbling under the weight of your own mistakes, okay?

  • We haven't really discussed the unusual penalty that went against the Seahawks near the end of Sunday's game with the Rams -- a foul that, curiously, wound up hurting the Rams more than the Seahawks.

    You may not be surprised to learn that Rams coach Scott Linehan has some concerns about the officiating. Saith the AP:

    The yellow flag flew, and many of the Rams began to celebrate in anticipation of an offensive penalty that would require a 10-second runoff, which would have meant the game was over and the Rams won.

    Wrong.

    The Seahawks were whistled for an illegal formation, not a false start. The false start penalty would have required the runoff. The illegal formation call simply moved the ball back five yards...

    "I think the integrity of the 10-second runoff is in question here because the whole idea is you can't have an illegal play of any kind without any timeouts while the clock is running to ensure that you get a chance to get a kick," Linehan said.

    Teams could use the loophole to their advantage, Linehan said. For example, a trailing team that completes a long pass might not have time to get the rest of the team to the ball in the waning seconds. So why not just have the receivers who are downfield run a play and take the illegal formation penalty?

    "If you have a long play now, what I would say is I think Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce should run up and snap the ball to each other," Linehan said. "Everybody stand still. It's an illegal formation -- there's only one guy on the ball and an ineligible taking the snap. Snap the ball and clock it. It's only a five-yard penalty, right?"

    Don't flame me -- I'm a very influential musician! -- but Linehan does have a point.

    The Seahawks clearly did not intend to commit that penalty, but now that it's been brought out into the light, it's certainly possible that a team could use that to buy time in the future. Well, that same situation would have to re-present itself, which isn't terribly likely.

    Nobody is complaining that the rule was misinterpreted by the referees. I've looked at the play in question since, and it was illegal formation -- there was no false start.

    In fact, nobody's even questioning the interpretation of the rule or the 5-yard, no-runoff punishment. Head ref Ed Hochuli gave a notably well-phrased and thorough explanation on the field as to why the penalty was the way it was.

    (Hochuli's one of the very few referees most coaches, players and even fans seem to like, myself included. Hochuli's the guy who came to Seahawks camp last August ostensibly to discuss new rule changes, but also to deal with Holmgrem's inevitable Super Bowl XL complaints. Even before Sunday's game, Holmgren has gone on the record as a Hochuli admirer.)

    I agree, in the interest of consistency, that the exemption from runoff on a formation penalty seems a little screwy. So did the infamous Tom Brady tuck.

    It was clearly an unintentional penalty on the Seahawks' part. It wasn't like taking an intentional delay of game to give your punter more finishing room. It was a mistake. It's hard to believe a team will be cognizant enough to actually use that illegal formation penalty as an end-of-game tactic in the future, but I semi-agree with Linehan: philosophically, the door's been opened.

    The rule on 10-second runoffs isn't exactly arbitrary. Clock runoffs in the last minute of play are reserved for penalties which connote some sort of movement: false starts, illegal shifts and motion. But it can be argued that motion infractions are penalties because they suggest a form of deception; they unduly disrupt the fair rules of play continuity. Illegal formation isn't quite so obvious a disruption, but it can create a deception.

    There is a logic in differentiating between formation and motion penalties. But it would help if there was more clarity on how an illegal formation is structurally, factually different enough that it shouldn't result in a 10-second runoff.

    I agree they should probably look that over in the off-season. So we don't, you know, draft a college kid based on his ability to line up incorrectly. That'd be stealing from the Cardinals' draft strategy, after all.

    I'm sorry, Arizona fans. You knew the jokes were coming.

  • Bill Williamson of MSNBC is officially the first newsman to refer to Sunday's home game against the Vikings as The Poison Pill Bowl.

    Dammit! I thought of it first. I have to remember to call the Patent Office when these things happen.

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