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Quick Inside Slant: Week 12

Impressions of the 2016 NFL Season as perceived by a Creative Writing graduate student, part-time amateur stand-up comedian and collegiate intramural flag football legend.

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By: Dustin Fisher

Honestly, it’s a little freeing now that my team is out of playoff contention. Now I can get on with the rest of my rooting interests.

First, Break All the Rules

What the Ravens did last week was brilliant. They exploited a sort-of-a-but-not-really-a loophole in the rules to ensure they would run out the clock. With 11 seconds left and up by a touchdown, rather than punt the ball and risk a return or a Hail Mary, which the Bengals have pulled off on multiple occasions, they did the same thing that I do when Jenn asks me to clean out the litter box. They stalled. But you can’t really expect your punter to run around for a full 11 seconds by playing fair. So they asked their linemen to do what they want to do on every play anyway – hold the Sam Heck out of their guys. Grab them around the collarbone and throw them to the ground. Lay on top of them. Heck, grab their face mask and their nuts at the same time. It doesn’t matter. Because as long as you can stall for 11 seconds, the game is going to be over. Oh! And just because karma is playing for the Ravens this season, let’s make it against the dirtiest team in the league, the Bengals. Have fun!

Sam Koch was able to run out the final 11 seconds against the Bengals because everybody in front of him holding like crazy.

Sam Koch was able to run out the final 11 seconds against the Bengals because everybody in front of him holding like crazy.

The play drew nine individual holding penalties and confused many people in the stadium and the announcer’s booth. And it really put the refs in a fun position when they had to announce that the game was over because time had run out. Thankfully for them, the game wasn’t in Cincinnati. I kinda wished the game was in England. After all, finding loopholes to exploit things to your advantage is a core American principal.

See, there’s a rule in the NFL and most football leagues that a half cannot end on a defensive penalty. But there is no such rule about an offensive penalty. So if the Bengals accept the penalty, it will be fourth down for the Ravens again, ten yards back from the last play. But since there’s no time on the clock, there is no play. Game over. If they don’t accept the penalty and accept the result of the play, they are awarded a safety and a free two points (yay!). But time has run now off the clock before the free kick. Game over (boo). It’s a lose-lose situation for the Bengals, who lost.
The Ravens did something similar in Superbowl XLVII (47, for you non-Romans), but they simply took a safety and still had to kick the ball off again, as they only ran the clock down to four seconds. They learned that the key to the whole play – the thing that makes time travel possible – is the loophole with the holding nonsense. People have taken intentional safeties before for reasons of field position, but this is the evolution of the intentional safety.

I had this same relative idea in flag football too. If I took the ball and blatantly flag guarded my way to a first down, the defense would accept the penalty and send us back 10 yards, but I’d get another play to do the same thing. And as long as I could successfully flag guard my way to the first down, they’d have to keep doing it, until they eventually started tackling me out of frustration, resulting in off-setting penalties, and a replay of the down yet again. Eventually time would run out. Granted, I wouldn’t do this with more than 30 seconds left on the clock, but it seems like a heck of an idea. Unfortunately, by the time I was savvy enough to come up with this, I was relegated to the defense and never saw any real time or had any creative input on offense. Darn you, Mother Nature and your cruel trickery!

So I’m glad to see that somebody figured out how to exploit that offensive penalty loophole in the rules to their advantage, even if it’s the same coach who whined when Belichick out-ruled him in a playoff game a few years back. And no, the Competition Committee isn’t really going to change a rule that only ever happens to a John Harbaugh team once every four years. So if it’s fourth down with less than 11 seconds left on the clock and you’re winning, grab yourself a fist full of jersey and hang on. And hope to heck that you’re playing at home. Or in Europe.

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Dustin Fisher is a writer, comedian, storyteller, and stay-at-home dad. Follow along with his dad blog at http://daddyneedsanap.com/ or buy his first book, Daddy Issues.

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Dustin Fisher is an amateur standup comedian, storyteller, freelance writer, and stay-at-home dad, all of which are just better ways of saying “unemployed.” He worked in the area of collegiate recreation for the previous 14 years at UMBC, Miami University and the University of Baltimore. There, he became somewhat of a folk legend on the flag football field and actually got paid to play fantasy football. Dustin is currently in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore seeking a Masters degree in Creative Writing. He has made contributions to various publications including The Good Men Project and the Baltimore Fishbowl. For more about Dustin, check out his stay-at-home dad website, Daddy Needs a Nap. Dustin lives with his wife and daughter in New Carrollton, MD in a house surrounded by too many trees to get the Dish Network.

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