Broncos, Seahawks are battle-tested

Romo's Last November Game of the Year: Blue-clad Dallas Cowboys leading 28-21, the Oakland Raiders faced third-and-9 on the hosts' 20 with nine minutes remaining. Presnap, third-string quarterback Matt McGloin saw speed receiver Jacoby Ford in single-man coverage with corner Brandon Carr playing press, and no safety over the top. Any quarterback would audible to a "go" in that situation. McGloin audibled to a go.

Just before the snap, Carr began to backpedal. Either because of the coverage called or because Carr correctly guessed the play, by the time McGloin started his throw, a best-case scenario had become a worst-case scenario -- the corner he thought would bump-and-run had instead "turned his hips" and was retreating at maximum speed. But McGloin made up his mind before the snap to throw to Ford. The ball went straight to Carr, whose pick was the game's decisive play. Soon the 'Boys were titans astride the NFC East, which this year means were 7-5.

Denver's Own Personal Stats Item: The Broncos are on a pace to score 619 points; the league record is 589 points. Peyton Manning is on pace to throw 55 touchdown passes; the league record is 50. Denver has outscored opponents by 147 points. The Broncos have kicked 59 extra points; the Jets have kicked 16 extra points. Denver's own personal worrisome stat: the Broncos have 25 giveaways, tied for third-worst in the league.

Adventures in Officiating: Jacoby Jones of the Baltimore Ravens was sprinting up the sideline in front of the Pittsburgh Steelers' bench for what seemed a likely kick return touchdown when Steelers coach Mike Tomlin put his feet onto the field in Jones' path. The Baltimore player sidestepped Tomlin, slowing down enough that he was caught from behind at the Steelers' 27. Tomlin wasn't flagged.

Set aside that during the offseason, the NFL said a 2013 officiating point of emphasis would be keeping head coaches off the field. Set aside that maybe Jones would have been caught anyway. That doesn't matter to rule enforcement, otherwise players could contend, "Sure I grabbed his facemask, but maybe he would have gone down anyway." And it does not matter whether Tomlin stepped into Jones' path on purpose or just made a knucklehead mistake; many sports penalties are unintentional. TMQ's question is: Why wasn't Baltimore awarded a touchdown?

The NFL rules list five ways a touchdown may be recorded, the fifth being, "The Referee awards a touchdown to a team that has been denied one by a palpably unfair act." An opposition coach steps directly into the path of a runner who is likely to score. The rules give the referee broad authority to determine what constitutes "palpably unfair" action. When Tommy Lewis left the Alabama bench to tackle a Rice runner in the 1954 Cotton Bowl, Rice was awarded a touchdown. What Tomlin did was not so spectacular, but the officiating decision should have been the same.

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