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Stranded in Boston

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Everything posted by Stranded in Boston

  1. The other thing that's odd is that the back judge in the end zone clearly was aware of the wording of the touchback rule: he did not blow his whistle or signal, and he jumped aside when the returner flipped the ball to him. If the back judge knew the explicit rule, why the hell did he let himself be overruled by the sideline officials, who evidently did NOT know the wording of the rule?
  2. Indeed, I checked the wording of the touchback rule after the game, and JF is dead right: if the the returner catches the ball he must either lie down or take a knee for a touchback. The rule book says nothing about extending your arms for a touchback. Of course, nobody would argue with the "common sense" interpretation that the return man "intended" a touchback (and maybe they'll update the touchback rules in response to this incident). But if the officials can apply common sense to interpret intent as they wish, shouldn't they likewise exercise common sense in interpreting Cody Ford's wholly benign "crack-back" block in OT? The crack-back rule was intended to prevent injurious blindside hits on defensive players; Ford barely knocked the guy off stride. Sorry, but if the officials insist on following the exact letter of the rule against Ford, they must follow the exact letter of the touchback rule as well. The rule is not ambiguous.
  3. Don't hold your breath for Brown to be suspended if the Saints sign him. For example, could someone please explain to me why Patrick Chung -- indicted on a felony charge of cocaine possession last summer -- has not been suspended, or at least placed on the commissioner's exempt list? I pointed this out to my wife last Saturday during the game, and she thought it was just more of my "F everything about the Patriots" rhetoric ...
  4. Definitely The Harp -- and don't worry, dude: WNY will own the place today. 😎 The Harp is across the street from TD Banknorth Arena, just steps from the North Station T stop (don't try to park downtown if you're driving). The WNYer college kids are home for Xmas break, so it'll probably be easier to get a table today. But there should still be a good crowd. I used to bring my twin boys with me when they were little (in their little Fred Jackson jerseys), and they got pretty upset at all the screaming -- mostly from me.
  5. I watched that Pittsburgh game at the old Bills fan club at The Fours Bar in Boston, across from the old Boston Garden. The place was absolutely packed with Bills fans; it would violate fire codes nowadays. I was crammed up against the front plate glass window. When Beebe scored one of his touchdowns, we screamed so loud I swear the glass buckled; I thought I was going to end up bleeding on the sidewalk on Canal Street ... good times!
  6. I don't believe in conspiracies or rigged games, and I think the refs are doing the best job they can do as humans observing a very fast, chaotic game. But there is *implicit* bias in sensory perception (it's my line of work -- don't ask!). Lots of experimental evidence suggests that our perceptual interpretations are influenced not only by the objective sensory information entering our brains (visual, auditory, etc.), but also by our *expectation* of what should happen/usually happens. For any experts out there, this falls under the rubric of Bayesian inference, in which the perceptual decision -- the "posterior probability" -- is a computed (according to Bayes' theorem) from incoming information AND a "prior probability" encapsulating bias, expectation, etc. Just like us fans, refs undoubtedly have priors about which teams are "better", "more disciplined", etc., that tip the balance in interpreting virtually identical plays. Unfortunately, the Bills have a reputation of being a mediocre, undisciplined team for some 20 years, which impacts referees' decisions on a moment-by-moment basis. Stephon Gilmore is a good example: you can see how confidently he interferes with receivers now, since he left the Bills for the Pats (I've heard claims that he is flagged as much in NE as he is with the Bills, but to my eye he also engages in much more contact with receivers.) Another example is the Cowboys only getting a sideline warning for spearing Josh on his slide rather than a flag (see the Cowboys' mic'd up highlights), whereas the current Bills would be penalized 100% for that infraction. I also remember the Bills getting away with a lot of calls in the early 90s, when they were usually considered the more "disciplined" team on the field. Implicit bias is a tough problem in refereeing, but what to do about it? I imagine that refs discuss this a lot in training, but it's pretty hard to resist something that's been burned into our brain circuits over eons of evolution! Maybe we'll have real-time machine-vision/AI solutions in the future. I have colleagues working on this now, LOL.
  7. I think we're seeing a bit of generation divide here. To you young guys -- everybody in Bills-land loves Singletary; he could really develop into a special back. But Joe Cribbs was absolute dynamite. To my mind, he was the original dual-threat running back, presaging by a decade the Thurmon Thomas/Marshall Faulk hybrid backs. Cribbs was a shifty-smooth-strong runner with amazing hands and superb route-running skills. If a defense was foolish enough to try to cover him with a linebacker, Cribbs would absolutely kill them. The Bills had a lot of great offensive weapons in the early 80s, but Cribbs was the original "motor". That said, keep it rolling, Devin!! 😀 Quick edit -- lest anybody think I was shortchanging Singletary -- check highlights for his fantastic blitz-pickup block on Josh's TD pass to Cole Beasley last Sunday. Singletary totally stones the full-tilt linebacker to give Josh the clean pocket; a real veteran-looking play there.
  8. What a great game that was! I dimly recalled that OJ was out injured that day, and "Bubby" Braxton carried the load, but OJ apparently did play (thanks for setting that straight, PUNT750). But I remember clear as day the headline of the Buffalo Evening News sports page the next day -- "Bills Dine on Red Birds". 😀
  9. You young guys out there might not realize that we lost 21 games straight to Miami -- the entire 1970s. You know how much you hate NE? That's how we felt about Miami; maybe even worse. We still owe those SOBs bigtime. So as for today, all I can say is ... NO MERCY. 😆
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