Colts echo Jim Irsay's call for replay review of penalties but, 'We’ve got to move on'

Indianapolis Star INDIANAPOLIS — Darrell Baker Jr. has watched the film, taken a good, long look at the two penalties the referees called on him on back-to-back plays late in Sunday’s loss to the Browns, a game that likely would have ended in a Colts win without those flags. Baker still believes they were bad calls, still wouldn’t change anything about how he handled those two plays.

The Colts submitted the two plays to the NFL, along with others, for review this week, and Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay issued a statement Sunday night saying that the league admitted the calls were incorrect, along with his belief the NFL needs to institute replay for all plays, including penalties, in the final two minutes of games. “I definitely agree because decisions like that can really alter the outcome of a game,” Baker Jr. said.

“And that could alter the trajectory or the career of a player. You never know what can happen after that. ” Baker is a backup cornerback in his second season in the NFL, an undrafted free agent who had to fight and claw to earn a starting role out of training camp, only to lose that spot in favor of rookie JuJu Brents after the first two weeks.

He knows how much is riding on every play. When he watched the film of the final series, Baker found himself wanting another chance at a different play. “I feel like I should have ended the game a couple of plays before that, when I almost had the interception,” Baker said.

“But almost doesn’t count. If I end it there, it’s a different story. ” Baker was the man at the center of the two controversial calls that ended Sunday’s game.

But his views were shared by a lot of the players in the Colts locker room Wednesday, both in the belief that there should be instant replay and that they should have done more to take the game out of the official’s hands. “I actually think there should always be replays,” running back Jonathan Taylor said. “We have the cameras, we have the technology.

It might drag the game out a couple times, but if we have the technology to have a clean game and get all the correct calls, that’s what we want. ” Penalties have not traditionally been reviewable in the NFL, in large part because the NFL’s competition committee tries to focus replay on objective calls — did a player get both feet down in-bounds, did the ball touch the ground — rather than subjective calls like penalties. The NFL allowed replay review on pass interference calls in 2019, but the threshold for overturning a call was so high that just 13 of 81 challenges were successful.

The league scrapped the idea after one season. And the Colts acknowledged there could be drawbacks to instant review on all plays inside the final two minutes, particularly repeated clock stoppage when time is at a premium. “It is what it is at this point.

I know, at that certain point, you don’t want to have certain stoppages of the game. At that point, timeouts are a factor, so you don’t really want to be pausing a game over and over, because that gives an advantage to either side,” Colts middle linebacker Zaire Franklin said. “But look, I get it.

The way I look at it is, whether I like it or not, once a flag is thrown, me yelling at them, I’m going to tell them a piece of my mind, but me yelling at them isn’t really going to change the call. We’re just moving on. ” That was the other message from the Indianapolis locker room Wednesday.

Irsay saying the NFL admitted the referees made the wrong calls isn’t much of a salve for the wound. “They don’t take the ‘L’ away, they don’t give (E. J.

) Speed the strip-sack,” Franklin said. “We’ve just got to move on and focus on New Orleans. ” From a player’s standpoint, the NFL’s admission would only help to figure out how to avoid a key flag in the future.

Or to avoid a flag being key at all, for that matter. “You kind of get the benefit of the doubt afterwards, but at the end of the day, as players, you’ve got to find a way to eliminate the refs from the game,” Taylor said. Put simply, the Colts do not believe dwelling on the Browns calls does much of anything to help them beat the Saints this week.

“I think we could have won that game, and that’s on us,” quarterback Gardner Minshew said. “There’s a million plays out there that could have been made, and we didn’t make them. It’s always convenient to look for excuses, but I think we’ve got to look at ourselves and figure out what we can do to fix it.

” From a coaching standpoint, Indianapolis head coach Shane Steichen hasn’t said much on either call, likely because NFL rules prohibit team officials from discussing the results of the review. Asked if he agreed with Irsay that the league should have replay on everything, including penalties, Steichen tried to push his team forward. “I’ll just say that you guys know the answer, probably, to that,” Steichen said.

“And we’ve got to move on. We’ve got to move on to New Orleans. ” Or they risk letting the calls in one game end up costing them the next.


Joel A. Erickson
Filed 10.26.2023

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