Replay Debacle

The Vikings know they're going to be in tight games all season because of a scoring-challenged offense, but the outcome of Sunday's game may well have hinged on a blown call by the officiating crew that apparently couldn't see what Brad Childress, the Vikings coaches and millions of fans could see without the benefit of high-definition TVs.

Instant replay has had many proponents over the years and rightfully so. When a call that can change the outcome of a game is clearly wrong, replay allows for those visual mistakes made by officials to be corrected.

Unfortunately, those who are opposed to instant replay often feel that way because the system is far from perfect – starting with the concept that the same officiating crew that made the call serves as judge and jury in determining whether a call stands or not. It has become something of a running joke to listen to announcers or media members in the press box saying, "this one's coming back" or "there's no way they can overturn that call" only to have the officials confound conventional wisdom by "doing the opposite."

Prior to Sunday's game, there weren't that many fans that knew who Walt Anderson even was, but thanks to his stepping under the hood and botching a huge call, the Vikings may have gone from being 2-1 after three games to being 1-2. The play in question came with slightly less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half. The Vikings had dominated the action to that point and the defense had created a turnover when Spencer Johnson hit Damon Huard and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Vikings on the Chiefs 33-yard line.

Two plays later with a second-and-goal from the 8-yard line, the Vikings called a trick play that worked as drawn up. Mewelde Moore takes a sweep to the right side and, as Chiefs defenders close in, he lofts a pass to Shiancoe for an apparent touchdown – except for one thing. The referee standing behind Shiancoe calls the pass incomplete.

Like fans themselves, the Vikings coaches in the press box area scramble to get a view on the TV monitor, which confirms to them that Shiancoe got his right elbow under the ball and it never touched the ground. They get word to Brad Childress to challenge and he does – only to have the call upheld by the same crew that blew it in the first place.

It can be blamed on a Vikings-Chiefs game drew so little national interest that FOX Sports assigned the J-Team announce crew to the game and that the number of cameras at such a tilt are considerably less than those that followed Troy Aikman and Joe Buck to the Giants-Redskins game Sunday. But, even with the one angle that was available, it seemed clear that the ball never touched the ground and, considering that the replay booths have been installed with high-def televisions, it would seem logical that the referee would have seen the ball cradled by Shiancoe.

Childress was none too happy following the game in giving his opinion of the decision.

"There was no doubt in my mind," Childress said of his belief the Vikings had a touchdown. "I only got one look at it. They just said that if they would have called it a touchdown, they would have left it a touchdown and if they called it incomplete, it would stay incomplete. They just couldn't find anything to roll it back the other way."

In the process, the replay haters have been given more ammunition to be opposed to it. It's not to say that the Vikings would have rolled to a victory if the touchdown had been awarded, but seeing as the final was 13-10, having an extra four points would seem to have been critical.

Upon further review, the refs blew it.

* While the Vikings offense has provided little in the way of returns, a case could be made that if the call Sunday had been made right and Ryan Longwell's field goal at Detroit at the end of regulation doesn't hit the upright and bounce out, the Vikings could be 3-0 heading into the matchup with the Packers.
* Packer fans have to be giddy, seeing as the Packers have defeated the Eagles and Chargers at home – two opponents most chalked up as losses from the time the schedule came out.
* Brett Favre tied Dan Marino's all-time touchdown record with three scores Sunday to give him 420 for his career. He'll look to set the new record at the Metrodome Sunday. It will be interesting to see how fans respond to seeing history being made if Favre sets the most prestigious passing record on the books at the Metrodome in front of Viking partisans.
* Childress' big surprise turned out not to be a surprise after all. For days, the media speculated that Kelly Holcomb would start and Tarvaris Jackson would be inactive, which came to pass Sunday. But, like Brooks Bollinger, Holcomb did little to divide a locker room in favor of keeping him as the starter.
* Chester Taylor and Tony Richardson were inactive for a second straight week, leading some to believe that Taylor's injury, which has been moved and downplayed for two weeks, might be more serious than the team is letting on. But with two 100-yard games from Adrian Peterson in three weeks, Vikings fans aren't complaining.
* From the Things Could Be Worse Department comes this: Midway through getting gutted by the Cowboys Sunday night, Bears fans by the thousands began chanting "Griese! Griese" – a reference to backup QB Brian Griese, who fans want to play instead of Rex Grossman.

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