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Fans outraged by call

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

John from Jacksonville:
Do you think anyone feels worse about Carson Palmer's injury than Kimo von Oelhoffen? Did you notice his reaction after the hit? You could see him look down at Palmer and make an aw-shucks gesture. He knew right away.

Vic: It's a crazy game. The players go out there with the intention of hitting each other as hard as they can, but their hearts sink when one of them sustains an injury. If Carson Palmer is never the same again, von Oelhoffen won't be, either. The thing I'm having trouble getting out of my head is the misfortune that continues to dog the Bengals franchise. Not only did they lose another great quarterback prospect, Greg Cook, years ago, the Bengals also lost the 1995 first pick of the draft, Ki-Jana Carter, when he sustained an ACL in his rookie training camp. Then there's Mike Reid, who was the second-best defensive tackle in the game and coming into the prime years of his career when he decided to leave pro football to become a concert pianist. I hope Carson Palmer makes it all the way back.

Zachary from Indianapolis, IN:
What's really more embarrassing, ensuring all of the playoff seats are filled with Colts fans or having to cover part of your stadium with a tarp?

Vic: I can think of a third thing that's more embarrassing.

Carly from North Brunswick, NJ:
What did you think of the pass interference call that led to the Broncos touchdown?

Vic: It was a horrible call. It gave the Broncos a touchdown. The thing that made it even worse was the no call in the Steelers-Colts game the following day. Marlin Jackson literally tackled Antwaan Randle El as he was trying to make a catch, yet, no call was made. Where is the consistency?

Adam from Portland, OR:
Did you see that interception by Troy Polamalu that was called incomplete? It's official, the league wants the Colts to win.

Vic: When I opened my inbox this morning, I had over 400 e-mails to "Ask Vic" from the long weekend. I knew it would be that way so I made sure I was at work by 6:30 this morning to begin the process. No less than 90 percent of those e-mails involved the Steelers-Colts game in some way. The most prominent topics were the Polamalu call and Peyton Manning's performance. That game took America's emotions hostage. It was one of the most compelling games in NFL history and the e-mails I received were loaded with anger at the league for what fans perceive as another blatant attempt to get Manning into the Super Bowl. I give the league credit for responding quickly on Monday by issuing a statement that the Polamalu interception should not have been reversed. I think the league sensed the fan outrage and addressed it as quickly as possible. That's great but if the idea of replay-review is to get the call right, then why not just call the official while he's "under the hood" and tell him what the right call is? Give him a cell phone. I say this tongue in cheek, of course, but what good does it do to issue a statement the next day that the wrong call was made. If the league knows what the right call is, then call the guy and tell him before he marches out onto the field and makes a fool of himself. The whole idea is to get the call right, right?

Steve from Jacksonville:
I thought Vanderjagt was money in the bank?

Vic: I guess the bank was closed.

Scott from Canandaigua, NY:
What a home job for the Colts, and they can't even win the game. This further makes me more angry that the NFL must have its golden boy Peyton win a Super Bowl.

Vic: See what I mean? This is just one of a couple of hundred similar e-mails I received. You know, I give Joey Porter credit for having the guts to say what everybody was thinking but nobody was willing to say and pay the fine.

Howard from Homestead, FL:
Now that Manning has lost yet another bid for the Super Bowl, what rules changes can we expect from the league next season as a result?

Vic: I think this one will officially take the shine off Manning. I expect sales of his jersey will begin declining. He's on his own now.

Brian from Jacksonville:
Damage control; that's what the NFL would have had to do if the Colts had beaten the Steelers.

Vic: The league got very lucky on this one.

Keith from Miami, FL:
What do the Panthers have that the Jaguars don't?

Vic: A major play-maker, Steve Smith; that's all. That's the only difference between the Panthers and the Jaguars.

Ronnie from Pleasant Plains, AR:
Has any team won three straight road games in the playoffs to make it to the Super Bowl? Do you think if the Steelers do it, considering who they have had to play – the three teams had a regular season record of 37-11 – would it go down as the greatest playoff run ever?

Vic: It would go down as the greatest playoff run ever if they win the Super Bowl. The 1985 Patriots won three road playoff games to make it into the Super Bowl – the only team in NFL history to accomplish that feat – but the Pats were crushed by the Bears in the big game.

Daniel from Wichita, KS:
Was that Peyton's last shot or can they manage the cap?

Vic: If the NFL doesn't get a CBA extension before March, the Colts will begin losing players. They would probably lose Reggie Wayne and Edgerrin James. Yeah, that could be Manning's and the Colts' last shot, but maybe for a reason other than salary cap problems: They're in decline.

Ed from Jacksonville:
Why are people calling the Steelers the first sixth seed to make it to the AFC championship game? Didn't the Jaguars do that in 1996?

Vic: The Jaguars were the fifth seed; the Colts were the sixth seed.

Jeff from Boonsboro, MD:
Boy, you were right about playing the Colts in the second round and not in the AFC title game. The refs did everything in their power to make the Steelers lose. Do you think Morelli will get fired?

Vic: I hope not. I think he was victimized by three isolated situations that were mishandled. Otherwise, I thought he and his crew did an outstanding job. One of the things I liked was that they weren't flag happy. The problem with his and his crew's performance is that it completely blew a blatant pass interference situation, it made no call on a fourth-and-one situation in which Morelli announced that the offense "did not move" but the Colts clearly jumped across the line and made contact. His no-play decision really lacked courage and I feel sorry for him because it's going to dog him. The Polamalu call was just a case of ridiculous over-analysis. Here's the question I have: If the Colts had recovered Polamalu's "fumble," would Morelli still have reversed the interception call?

Seth from Jacksonville:
So in the best available player theory, we should have taken Ben Roethlisberger over Reggie Williams? Wow! Talk about a move, or lack of it, that might be felt for a decade.

Vic: The Jaguars were in an impossible situation. They couldn't entice either Pittsburgh or Buffalo to trade up. It was draft poker and the Steelers stood pat on their hand and won. About all the Jaguars could've done is call the Steelers' and Bills' bluff, take Roethlisberger and then try to trade him. That's too risky. There was nothing the Jags could've done.

Pete from Jacksonville:
Does the running game continue to be the key to victory in the NFL? All eight playoff winners out-rushed their opponent and yet, again, the top light-it-up offense in the league fails in the playoffs. Check the 2005 regular season rankings for rushing offense and you will see that the top five rushing offenses have three out of the four teams playing in the championship weekend. Check the rankings for top passing offenses. How many of the top five passing offenses are still in the playoffs? None. How many of the top 10 passing offenses are still in the playoffs? None. Throw to score and run to win.

Vic: Every once and awhile I receive an e-mail of such quality that I am proud that it is appearing in "Ask Vic." This is such an e-mail.

Stephen from Trenton, NJ:
Well, the big question has finally been answered and buried. Should you rest your team the last week or two of the season when you already have a bye in the first round? Should you shut it down the last game of the season in order to prevent injuries?

Vic: I understand your logic. This past weekend's games support it. Pittsburgh had to win four straight at the end of the year to even make it into the playoffs. The Broncos didn't shut it down in San Diego in the final game. Indy shut it down in their last two. The Patriots shut it down in their last one and so did the Bengals. Let's not forget Seattle, however, because the Seahawks shut it down and lost to the Packers.

Larry from Jacksonville:
I have lost all respect for Peyton Manning after hearing his postgame remarks following the loss against the Steelers. He blamed his offensive line as one of the reasons they lost. Why couldn't he take the blame instead of calling out other positions? You would never hear Byron saying those remarks, even if it was obvious that happened in the game.

Vic: You're right.

Tim from Tallahassee, FL:
After the Colts' stunning loss to the Steelers, do you think the Jaguars will be the favorite to win the AFC South next year and possibly get a first-round bye?

Vic: A lot will depend on what happens with the CBA and what that would cause in the way of salary cap problems and potential losses for the Colts. If the Colts start losing players, I think you'll see the national media come off them real fast.

Joni from Jacksonville:
Is it just me or was Sunday's game between the Steelers and the Colts the way football should be played? Establish the run and protect the lead.

Vic: It's how playoff teams play. The NFL is a 20-17 game.

Andrew from Bradenton, FL:
Do you think the Jaguars should make a push for Reggie Wayne, since he will be a free agent this year? He might be one of those play-makers we are looking for.

Vic: If it turns out that Reggie Wayne is available and at an affordable price, I'd say go get him. I was impressed by his performance on Sunday. I thought he out-played Marvin Harrison.

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