Neutral zone infraction.
It's the dumbest penalty to have called on you in the NFL.
After watching this call made in all the wildcard games, I came to this very conclusion. Any player who lines up in the neutral zone and then incurs a penalty is bone-headed.
Simple as that. Think about it. How hard is it to turn your head, glance down the line of scrimmage and determine if you are BEHIND the ball? This is not rocket science, people! I know not every player in the league is an honorary member of MENSA, but still, just take a look where you're standing! If you feel like you're standing in a "gray area", take a baby step back. Refs don't call you when you step BACK, just when you step FORWARD.
Yes, I know I'm getting a bit worked up about a five-yard penalty, but it's a stupid one that can easily be prevented. And five yards can make a HUGE difference, especially if, say, it's third down and four and you get flagged for lining up in the neutral zone all because you didn't just simply TURN YOUR HEAD.
In other news around the league, scandal broke out in New York when we learned Jets' coach Rex Ryan had a picture of his wife wearing a Mark Sanchez jersey tattooed on his chest. Really? The regular season is over, so this is what sports networks have to scrape up to report on? I don't care to ever see Rex Ryan shirtless for one, and for two, who cares what he's got tattooed on his body? It's his body, and it's covered up (thankfully), so unless he starts getting some Mike Tyson face tattoo work done, I think we all just need to breathe into a paper bag until the "crisis" passes.
Also this weekend:
- Snore me this... Wildcard games were snoozers.
Wow, what a boring weekend of football. I mean really, these games were like lullaby music to a newborn. Anyway... aside from the Seattle-Washington game (more on that below), the other games were big time yawners. A few plays in to the Bengals-Texans, I was asleep. Sorry, I can't do more in depth coverage on that one. Doesn't appear like I missed much. Same with the Colts-Ravens game on Sunday. I fell asleep before that one even started. (Apparently, I need to get more sleep during the week.) I was actually excited to watch the Packers and Vikings, but once I heard Christian Ponder wasn't starting at quarterback, the words "game over" bounced through my head. As expected, it didn't take long for the Pack to flex their muscle.
- Much like everything else over-hyped by the NFL, the rookie match up failed to live up to expectations.
With Robert Griffin III playing at about 80 percent, fans weren't treated to some of his more spectacular plays. Things looked good early, though, when the Skins went up by 14, but Seattle's D tightened up and held Washington scoreless the rest of the way.
The Redskins spiraled downward shortly after RG3 tweaked his already injured knee. He pressed on, but finally went down for good in the fourth quarter. Kirk Cousins did little to help the cause.
While much has been said about RG3 this year, I'd like to focus on the Seahawks for a moment. This team has been on quite a roll, and even being down two touchdowns on the road didn't phase them. Russell Wilson looked poised and the defense looked tough.
If I were the Falcons, I'd be a wee bit concerned.
- Sit back and enjoy, boys. Time for the big guns to come out and play.
Well, I certainly hope the slate of games for the divisional round are less sleep-inducing than the wildcard games.
First up on Saturday is Peyton Manning's playoff debut with the Broncos when they take on the Ravens. Uh, well, this one COULD be a snorefest, at least for me, as I have zero interest in the Ravens, and it will probably only take me about five plays in to get tired of Peyton Manning.
In the Saturday nightcap, the Packers visit the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh is already scowling about something. On Sunday, Seattle visits Atlanta. I think Matt Ryan needs to lead his team to a win to move into that upper tier of quarterbacks. Until he gets a playoff win, he's still just a mid-carder.
The final game of the weekend pits the Texans against the Patriots. I'm going on record to predict it will be raining or snowing and Bill Belichick will be wearing a ratty-looking cut-off sweatshirt. And a tabogan. Because nothing protects you from the elements like NFL approved gear.
Until next week, enjoy the divisional games!
Hershberger can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org