Editorial: Pass interference is hard on fans

Published 9:18 am Monday, November 26, 2012

There is no doubt that the Minnesota Vikings performed woefully on Sunday in their 28-10 loss to the Chicago Bears.

However, there remains an aspect of the NFL rules that boggles us: How is it that a receiver can push off the defender, but the defender is called for pass interference?

This happened to Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield. He and Bears receiver Brandon Marshall were in the end zone as Bears quarterback Jay Cutler scrambled to buy time. Cutler threw to Marshall, and Marshall extended his arm to separate himself from Winfield. However, Marshall still failed to catch the ball, so he immediately demanded a flag from the nearby official, who complied.

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Anyone who watched the play could have thought the flag was for offensive pass interference. Winfield has just as much of a right to go for the ball as Marshall. It was Marshall with the extended arm, after all.

Instead, the call was defensive pass interference, and the Bears were given the ball at the 1-yard line.

Sure, it hurts the most when it happens to our Vikings, but these questionable pass interference calls happen far too often, can swing the momentum of a game and deserve the same scrutiny that other calls get with video replays. It is difficult for fans to watch games with fickle application of the rules. It hurts their sense of competitive fairness.

That’s because the heart of the problem is that referees tolerate offensive players pushing, shoving, grabbing and bumping the defenders far too much. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If the defenders can’t do it, neither should the receivers.