NFL’s Final Four blemished by variety of issues

Alan Greenwood

Two extraordinarily entertaining games made Sunday’s NFL Final Four exhibits No. 1-A and 1-B when the league next peddles the rights to telecast its games to all interested TV networks.

Two games, two overtimes, lots of back-and-forth, lots of drama, lots of emotion. Somewhere in one eternal resting spot or another, the NFL’s first business savvy commissioner, Pete Rozelle, is feeling awfully smug.

Then came Monday morning, when Rozelle’s distant descendant, Roger Goodell, had to have his lackeys acknowledge that the officiating crew working the NFC Championship Game lost its yellow hankies and let a blatant pass interference call go uncalled. That astounding blunder came just as the game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles reached its dramatic, emotional crescendo.

New Orleans fans filed a lawsuit against the NFL demanding that a big, fat mulligan be declared, requiring the Saints and Rams to resettle the issue of who will play the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Do-Over Bowl I? There is an infinitely better chance of Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft and Goodell joining in a group hug after Goodell presents New England’s sixth Lombardi Trophy.

As for the Patriots’ triumph over the Kansas City Chiefs, the whining from middle America centered on more standard mixed calls. Most interesting among them was the offsides call on Chiefs defensive end Dee Ford, who lined up in the neutral zone and was called on it after Brady threw an interception that would have effectively ended the Pats’ season.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid, never at a loss for alibis after his teams’ worst losses, wondered why the officials didn’t give Ford a warning.

Really? A five-year NFL veteran needs to have the concept of lining up in the neutral zone explained in the closing moments of a conference championship game?

As former NFL ref Jim Daopoulos told NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran: “In the first quarter or the first couple of minutes of the game if the defensive end is lined up offsides, absolutely, they’ll give him a warning. But at that point in the game, late in the game, absolutely not.”

Finally, there was a measure of whimpering over the Patriots winning the game on Brady’s surgical touchdown drive while Patrick Mahomes had no opportunity to respond.

How unfair. The overtime rule needs to be changed (again) to make sure each quarterback has a chance to shine.

How about this: Leave the rule alone and rely on a team’s defense to make a stop?

What a whacky concept.

TIME TRAVEL: Jan. 23, 1978 – “The Nashua High Blades staged a spectacular comeback this weekend. After a four-game losing streak, Nashua defeated Winnacunnet on Saturday night at Skate 3, 15-4, and on Sunday in Manchester it defeated Trinity, 9-2.

“Joe Basius, Gregg Metcalf and Bruce Solomon were the outstanding Blades this weekend. Basius tallied 15 points in the two games to break the record for the most goals in a season by a Nashua player. He scored nine goals and had six assists.”

Apparently playing back-to-back nights didn’t cause any physical meltdown among the Nashua skaters.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-1248, agreenwood or @Telegraph_ AlanG.