When it comes to improving the umpire function, the NFL has generally exhibited a toxic combination of cheapness and stubbornness. Last night’s USFL playoff game between Pittsburgh and Michigan revealed the madness of one of those attributes.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Maulers leading the Panthers 20-17, Michigan connected on a 55-yard touchdown pass to take the lead.
But there was a penalty. Officials called Michigan right tackle Josh Dunlap for a facemask foul, erasing the score.
Enter judge of heaven. Mike Pereira watched the game and saw that there was no face mask foul. (He appeared to hold the edge of the jersey, but it was clearly not a facemask foul.) The penalty kick was ruled out and the touchdown was reinstated.
This is important because, in the NFL, there would not have been a similar solution. Hidden calls and non-calls cannot be reviewed. In an NFL postseason game, the late touchdown that resulted in a lead change would have been wiped out, with no way to rectify the clear and obvious officiating error.