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Officials obsessing

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

Luis from Green Cove Springs, FL:
There are a few issues where I don't share your opinion. One of those opinions is that Peyton Manning is not that special. I don't like the guy but he is an awesome player.

Vic: It's not that I don't think Peyton Manning is special. He's clearly the league MVP and that makes him special. My criticism of Manning has always been that he doesn't get it done in the big games. This may be his year. All of the indicators are in his favor. He'll be home for the Colts' first playoff game and even if he has to win in Pittsburgh and in New England to get to the Super Bowl, he would be matched against a rookie quarterback in one game and an injury-ravaged secondary in the other. If he doesn't get it done in the playoffs this year, I think a lot of people are going to begin questioning his postseason record. If he does get it done, I will hail him as the best quarterback in the game. Until then, that distinction belongs to Tom Brady. That's my opinion.

Will from Jacksonville:
What is the record for the most turnovers in one game?

Vic: Three teams are tied at 12: Detroit vs. Chicago Bears, Nov. 22, 1942; Chicago Cardinals vs. Philadelphia, Sept. 24, 1950; Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, Dec. 12, 1965.

Mike from Jacksonville:
Great game by the Jags. What is your opinion of the fumble by Byron in the first half for Green Bay's first touchdown? Also, what was your opinion of the pass interference on Deon Grant late in the fourth quarter when the Green Bay receiver ran up his back?

Vic: This stuff about "control of the ball" has gotten out of hand. In my opinion, we are demanding way too much evidence of control. In my opinion, officials are obsessing in their replay-review examinations. That's the problem with the system. We've gone beyond reasonability. The ball was in Leftwich's hand and he was attempting to pass. That's all I need to know. I felt the same way about the touchdown catch by Jay Riemersma a couple of weeks ago. The ball was in his hands and he had taken two steps. What did he have to do to establish possession, eat the ball? Pass-defense penalties are currently the worst examples of over-officiating, but, of course, the league warned us before the season began that there would be a "major emphasis." There sure has been a major emphasis. It's to the point now that it's nearly impossible to play pass-defense. Any kind of a nudge in the secondary is a pass-interference penalty against the defense, even if the offense initiated the contact, which was clearly the case on the Deon Grant play to which you're referring. I saw one early in the game when Reggie Williams literally stuck out his arm to impede the progress of the defender, but it was the defender who was flagged. You gotta be kidding me! No wonder Peyton Manning is about to set a record for touchdown passes in a season. No wonder there's a rookie quarterback who's 12-0. No wonder Drew Brees has come out of nowhere to have a 103.8 passer rating. The game is so tilted toward offense that defense doesn't have a chance.

Josh from Sierra Vista, AZ:
I know you're probably going to receive a couple of hundred e-mails on this one, but what is your opinion on Darius' hit that got him ejected? I thought it was a tough, nasty hit that made a statement to receivers about coming across the middle. Do you agree that it may have been a statement and do you think it warranted an ejection and/or fine or suspension?

Vic: I don't like your use of the word "statement." It implies that Donovin Darius' hit was an intimidation tactic. It also implies that you condone such actions. Darius' hit was an obvious infraction of the rules. You can't go high in today's game. In my opinion, the penalty and the ejection were no-brainers. So is the fine that's coming. What we don't know and can't know is Darius' intent on the play. That's the real issue here. Did he go high maliciously? Only he can answer that and Darius said it was not intentional. I accept the fact that football is a dangerous game and accidents happen, but I can't help but wonder what the reaction in Jacksonville would be today if it was Jimmy Smith who had been hit high by a Packers defensive back. Would we be talking about making a statement? The play bothers me. I don't like it. It shouldn't have happened. That's my opinion.

Adam from Jacksonville:
What an inspiring game. A Jag team hasn't played that well on the road since the 1996 Broncos game. I hope Alltel is packed next week. My question is if the Jags win Sunday and Baltimore, Denver, and Buffalo all lose can the Jags clinch the playoffs?

Vic: I'm not trying to dodge all of these questions about playoff possibilities, but there are just too many tie-breaker variables remaining to be decided to give absolute answers. If you're looking for a simple formula to get the Jaguars into the playoffs, here's one: Baltimore loses one more game, the Jets win one more game and the Jaguars win their remaining two games. That would do it and it wouldn't matter what Buffalo and Denver did.

David from New Smyrna, FL:
If the Jags go to the playoffs, who would they play in the first round?

Vic: If the Jaguars make the playoffs, they would likely make it as the sixth seed, which means they would play at the third seed in the wild-card round. Who will the third seed be? That's easy; the winner of this Sunday's game between San Diego and Indianapolis.

Mike from Middleburg, FL:
Perhaps there is a silver lining to the hit that Donovin Darius put on the Green Bay player. Will any receiver in the NFL ever run across the middle of the field now without wondering where Darius is? The hit may cost Darius $20,000, but in the long run it may be the best money he ever spent.

Vic: I don't like that thinking. I covered this league in the 1970's when that kind of thought was very much a part of the game and the result was devastating. I witnessed Lynn Swann being assaulted from behind by George Atkinson. I saw Glen Edwards clothesline Kenny Anderson five yards out of bounds in an obvious attempt to knock him out of the game. Then, ultimately, we witnessed the Darryl Stingley tragedy. I don't ever want to see pro football return to that level of brutality. What you're suggesting makes me shake my head in disbelief.

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