I have a multitude of issues to raise here, some are fixable, some are not, some are going to make me look like a whiner. I'm ok with that, because I watched the game live, I've watched it on film, and I've listened to it from the perspective of both the Colts and the Jaguars radio broadcasters. How can you ascertain the accuracy of a call based on a radio team? You can't, but you can gauge by their reaction how surprised they are at a particular ruling.
Which leads me to address an important issue, first and foremost.
There were questionable decisions made by the Officials: I really despise even discussing officiating on this site, mainly because I think it's something done to cover up legitimate deficiencies in a team. It's an easy target to attack referees because its easier than examining what's wrong in a locker room. Jacksonville suffered from a series of calls in the first half that led to almost immediate Colt touchdowns. I will take a frame by frame look at both, and see what I think
1. 1st Quarter, Jaguars first drive, 3rd down and 7. David Garrard is sacked by Robert Mathis and fumbles. The fumble is ruled to be recovered by Greg Jones after a typical fumble scrum. Colts Defensive Tackle Raheem Brock looks like he and David Garrard went down with the ball. Both Brock and Garrard would have some sort of possession, the ball would hit the ground and be hidden from sight, then Brock would appear to come up with the ball and start to get up off of his knees when Jaguar Tony Pashos makes contact with Brock, rendering him down. The four pictures attached should illustrate this. Picture one shows Garrard and Brock both going after the ball, two shows the ball on the ground, three shows where the ball was lost from view, and finally four shows what appears to be Brock getting touched and rendered "down". The NFL Game book says that Brock was put down by Mo Williams and Vince Manuwai, I guess another angle makes that more clear.
Indianapolis would win this challenge and immediately score with a Dallas Clark Touchdown. Were the Jaguars to keep the ball, we would have punted on 4th down and given the Colts very good field position ( Punt from the goal line, with a little luck on the Jaguars part puts the Colts somewhere around midfield, depending on the bounce). You can argue that the Colts would have probably scored anyhow, given the good spot, but anything is better than giving Manning the ball at the Jacksonville 11 yard line.
Is it a good call, I think I begrudgingly agree with the officials. I wish the Jaguars had pulled off there "punt really quick" that they used against the Bills so we wouldn't have to deal with this, but yeah, I'll agree that this first call was correct.
2. 1st Quarter, Colts third drive, 2nd down and 16 on the Jaguars 48 yard line.. Peyton Manning passes to Tight End Ben Utecht for a 8 yard gain. He fumbles after a hit by Justin Durant and the ball is picked up by Terry Cousin. Tony appears to challenge that Utecht was down before fumbling, and once again we go to review. The play was overturned, saying that the pass was incomplete. I was kind and let the last replay go, but this one stings because of what would happen on the next play.
Two pictures illustrate everything that is wrong with this call. First, this picture clearly shows that Utecht clearly had possession of the ball well before being touched by any Jaguar. He has enough possession to begin turning upfield, again with the ball. The second picture shows that Utecht drops the ball before going down. How do I know that his knees arn't down yet? Because (and I can't illustrate this, because my "evidence" is the bounce that you see Ben do when he hits the ground a few frames later, but you can tell here that the ball is out).
This one is clearly and absolutely wrong. Not only is it wrong, but the next play would see Reggie Wayne get open on Brian Williams and score a huge touchdown. With this decision to rule what is clearly and obviously a fumble as an incomplete pass took a 7-0 game and made it into a 14-0 game. Call me what you will, but I think the evidence backs me up. Even the TV Announcers sounded stunned when they declared it incomplete.
That said, the officiating is what it is. You can't get too obsessed with how good or bad a job they did, because there's nothing you can do about it. Sure, you can strike out at least one Indianapolis TD if we get the call we're supposed to get, but what does that matter now.
What I wanted to do here was dispel and clarify a bit what happened on those two challenges. I could be wrong, hopefully we get an explanation by the officials later in the week and know for sure.
I didn't intend to write this post, but I don't think the story of the game can be told without addressing these two calls. I'm officially "moving on" from blaming the officials. I encourage you to do the same!