ABC learned a lesson Monday night that the rest of the country has been catching on to for a couple of weeks now. When the NFL plays night games, stay tuned. There’s no telling what might happen.
Two Sunday night games have had frantic finishes, and for the third straight week a Monday night game turned on the final play. Only this time, it wasn’t really the final play.
With 6 seconds left and Pittsburgh poised to kick a 40-yard field goal to win the game, Jacksonville blocked the kick and Chris Hudson returned the ball for a touchdown, putting the Jaguars ahead 29-21 as time ran out.
Some players shook hands and others trotted off the field. Announcer Al Michaels said, “So much for what should be a game-ending extra-point attempt,” and signed off the air. Everybody decided the game was over. Referee Gerry Austin decided otherwise.
NFL rules stipulate that teams must attempt the extra point in regulation time but not in overtime. So Austin ordered the teams back for the kick that made the final score 30-21, a phantom extra point for fans who, by then, were watching their local news or heading off to sleep.
“We knew the rule but when the coaches and players left the field, we realized it would take a long time to reassemble them,” ABC spokesman Mark Mandel said. “We had network obligations to get back to local affiliates. We were stuck in a situation late at night.”
“In television, seconds are like minutes and minutes are like hours,” Mandel said. “The league was in complete agreement.”
Newspapers got calls Tuesday from fans who thought the final score was 29-21 and were confused when it was correctly reported as 30-21.
Things would have been much cleaner, of course, had Norm Johnson made the field goal, but the snap hit holder Mike Tomczak in the knee.
“I thought it was laying sideways when I kicked it,” Johnson said. “Maybe it’s the Monday night jinx for place kicking.”
Ex-Bears coach dies
Abe Gibron, a former Chicago Bears head coach, died Tuesday, a day after his 72nd birthday.
Gibron died at his home in Belle Air, Fla.
He became head coach in 1972 after seven seasons as an assistant, inheriting a bad team that continued to struggle through his three seasons in the job.
As head coach, he was 11-30.
Around the league
Cincinnati Bengals running back Ki-Jana Carter has a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder and could be out for the rest of the season… . A specialist has examined the injured arm of Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Thomas and his prognosis remains week-to-week. Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer denied reports that the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Thomas might be done for the year… . The Bears placed running back Rashaan Salaam on the injured reserve list, losing him for the rest of the season. The move comes six days after he underwent surgery on his broken lower right leg.
Running back Erric Pegram was waived by the San Diego Chargers to create a roster spot for a kicker. … Nose tackle Jerry Ball and kicker Eddie Murray, two unemployed former Pro Bowl players, got jobs with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings signed Ball to help solidify one of the NFL’s worst run defenses, and Murray to stabilize the kicking situation. Minnesota also released kicker Greg Davis, who missed twice at Chicago and from 22 yards in Sunday’s loss at Green Bay.