Sherman Explains Non-Challenge


Sometimes your living room couch really is the best seat for watching a football game.

Following the Packers' playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons, questions abounded as to why GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman didn't challenge the officials' ruling on a second quarter play in which Atlanta recovered what was considered on the field to be a muffed punt and fumble by Packers return man Eric Metcalf.

Television replays of the incident showed that after Metcalf signaled for a fair catch, Atlanta's Kevin McCadam forced blocker Tyrone Williams into Metcalf, preventing him from fielding the punt.

While the officials ruled that the ball then bounced off of either Metcalf or Williams, one camera angle presented several times in ABC's broadcast seemed to indicate that the ball first bounced off of McCadam. If that were the case, the ball would have been considered dead on contact and the Packers would have started their next possession.

Sherman's post-game comments to the media gave the impression that he had spoken with an official directly after the play, who told him that the play was unreviewable.

But in fact, as Sherman clarified Wednesday, his discussion with the official was in regard to receiver interference, not to which player first made contact with the ball.

"When I went and talked to the official, I talked to the official strictly about the fact that (Metcalf) had called for a fair catch and it was a fair catch interference penalty," Sherman said at his final press conference of the season. "I did not see the ball hit their player."

Nor did Packers coaches in the press box, who didn't see an incriminating angle of the play until after the Falcons started their ensuing possession, when it was too late to challenge the previous call.

"They had one feed, it was an end zone feed," Sherman said. "It didn't show it hitting their player. On the TV copy when they replayed it, it did show it hitting their player. But we weren't privileged to that information in the press box and I didn't have that information previous to (the Falcons' ensuing play).

"My argument was solely in defense of the fact that we have to give that player a right to catch the football on a fair catch ... When you saw me on the field talking (to the official), that's what I was defending.

"The fact that it hit their player, I didn't see that part."

If he had, or even thought that part of the play was in question, Sherman said he would have thrown the red flag asking for a challenge immediately.

"If I ever knew there was a fumble involved, it's worth the flag," Sherman said.

In the end, Sherman said officials were correct in not calling receiver interference.

Although Metcalf signaled for a fair catch, NFL rules allow for a coverage player to maneuver a player from the receiving team into the return man, as McCadam did to Williams.

"Myself and all the other officials saw that it hit (a Packers player) first," Sherman said. "Nothing warranted me to think otherwise on the field, and I wasn't getting any feedback anywhere else that it was (touched first by Atlanta) ...

"You'd like to see a uniformity on what they're showing at home and what you're seeing up in the box. I'm not sure that's always the case."

As a result of the ruling on the field, the Falcons took over at the Green Bay 21-yard-line. A few plays later, T.J. Duckett ran in the third touchdown of the game and Atlanta moved out to a 21-0 lead.

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