THE NFL / BILL PLASCHKE : Raiders Play Favorite Game: Pin the Goat on Someone Else

How unusual was the play that the Oakland Raiders termed as freak and claimed cost them a victory in Kansas City Sunday?

As unusual as a Raider team that blames everyone but itself.

Not very.

The play occurred when Raider Tim Brown collided with umpire Jeff Rice while running a crossing route just beyond the line of scrimmage.

Brown was slowed enough so that he could not reach quarterback Jeff Hostetler's pass, which went directly into the hands of Chief James Hasty, who returned it for the game-winning touchdown.

Brown angrily said it was crazy.

Common, is more like it.

Playing four or five yards deep into the defense, playing directly in front of one of the offensive linemen, an umpire is like a middle linebacker.

"Those umpires ought to receive some sort of hazard pay," said Jack Fetta, a retired line judge who worked the sidelines for 23 years.

Fetta would not comment on Sunday's game, but agreed to speak about his long years of watching umpires tango with players.

"You should call up NFL Films, get them to show you some highlights of past games," Fetta said. "Those guys are getting bounced around all the time. Collisions are just part of the game."

Already this season, two umpires have been sidelined because of serious injuries. One has a broken shoulder. The other has broken ribs.

In colliding with Brown, umpire Rice was simply doing his job. Just as he was on a similar play earlier in the game.

"When the umpire reads pass, he moves forward to the line of scrimmage," Fetta said. "One of the reasons he moved there is so he can avoid the play. That's the way it has always worked."

So maybe this time a receiver and an umpire crossed paths. So what? It's probably not even the first time it has happened this year.

It's probably not even the only time it happened last weekend.

"The officials have to be on the field," Fetta said. "If you take them off, it would be a pretty terrible game, don't you think?"

Perhaps the Raiders should have been angry about their 11 penalties for 75 yards, including the holding call on Kerry Cash that moved them out of field goal range before the interception.

Or they could have been angry about Harvey Williams' first-quarter fumble that eventually became a Chief touchdown.

Or about blowing a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

But right after the game, Coach Mike White didn't yell about any of those things.

No, he walked past Jerry Seeman, the league's director of officiating, and yelled, "Awful."


Week 3 game balls to:

--Carl Peterson, Kansas City general manager, who went to extraordinary measures to sign Hasty away from the Raiders this spring. Peterson knew the Raiders liked Hasty's speed, so he hid the free-agent cornerback in a Kansas City hotel under an assumed named until he was signed.

--Gary Zimmerman, the Denver Bronco tackle who made the block that let John Elway stand in the pocket for roughly four days before finding Rod Smith in the end zone for a game-winning, 43-yard touchdown pass on the last play against the Washington Redskins.

--Jay Novacek, Daryl Johnston and Mark Tuinei, the three Dallas Cowboys who obliterated the right side of the Minnesota Viking defensive line, allowing Emmitt Smith to run nearly untouched for 31 yards and a game-winning touchdown.


Week 3 raspberries to:

--Bill Parcells, New England Patriot coach, for making quarterback Drew Bledsoe play three quarters with a separated shoulder. Some of the 49ers were so furious about it that they wanted defensive coordinator Pete Carroll to blitz the entire fourth quarter in hopes that Bledsoe would be knocked out of the game and his misery.

Carroll backed off, but it might have already been too late. Parcells wanted Bledsoe to experience the situation as a toughening agent, but instead it probably made him tentative.

--Alvin Harper, Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver. He signed for $10 million and still can't deal with his nagging leg injuries long enough to come out of the whirlpool.

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