CFL fans (justifiably) flip out over yet another replay controversy

Saturday night’s otherwise entertaining game between the B.C. Lions and the Edmonton Eskimos was marred by yet another dubious call by the command centre.

With the Eskimos leading 23-20 with just under 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter and kicker Sean Whyte ailing, head coach Jason Maas elected to go for it on third down from the B.C. 14-yard line. Mike Reilly’s pass, intended for Bryant Mitchell, fell incomplete as Lions defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy made a play on the football.

But Maas challenged the play, looking for pass interference. This is what the command centre back in Toronto saw:

The ruling: pass interference, Edmonton ball at the B.C. one-yard line. On the next play, the Esks punched it in so instead of having the ball down by three, the Lions were down nine (Edmonton failed on their two-point conversion.) It didn’t decide the game but it was the turning point, to be sure.

Reaction on Twitter was swift and incredulous. A sampling:

We could keep going. For a while.

To make things worse, Maas challenged again on the two-point conversion attempt (and lost) and B.C. Lions coach Wally Buono challenged on the following series and also lost – despite the fact that his challenge looked every bit as legit as Maas’ original one.

So we have one review that everyone but the command centre disagreed with – remember one of the justifications for replay was that it was going to make sure the calls lined up with what fans were seeing at home. We have three challenges in the span of six offensive plays, despite the league insisting that the challenge system would be quicker. And we have a stunning lack of consistency.

Oh, and we have replay – botched replay, by the look of it – playing a central role in the outcome of games and, potentially, home field playoff dates (with the win, the Esks take the season series over B.C.)

The bright side: at least it didn’t cost anyone a million dollars.