Whenever you lose it is always tough. But it is easier to accept when you play a good game but lose to a team who is better than you. It really stings when you lose to a lesser opponent. It is even worse when there is controversy surrounding that loss.
That is the case right now with Notre Dame. If there was a player on defense that the Irish could not afford to lose last weekend it was Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt was the only healthy defensive lineman on the Irish roster. Louis Nix and Sheldon Day did both play but they clearly were not the same recovering from injuries.
But early in the second quarter, Tuitt was ejected for targeting on Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage.
The targeting rule is as follows:
• No player shall target and initiate contact vs. opponent with the crown of his helmet.
• No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent.
That all sounds good but looking at the photo above, it is clear that both players have their heads down. It actually looks like Savage went in with his head down and that Tuitt was just trying to get lower than him. If you watch the hit live, you will see that Tuitt actually made contact with his shoulder pads even though his head was down.
To me, it seems that the rule is designed to protect the quarterbacks and that is not right. If a quarterback goes in head first like that, he should get flagged too.
The controversial part of the rule is the ejection part. What makes no sense is that the ejection can be reviewed but the penalty can't. So if he did not target and is not ejected, why wouldn't you pick up the flag. That is absurd. In Tuitt's case, the ejection was upheld and nobody in South Bend understood what they were looking at.
That call changed everything. Pitt's offense did nothing prior to the call. But after it, our already banged up and thin defense now had it in their head that they couldn't hit the other team a certain way. Yes it was Pitt but I don't care if it were an Ivy league team. If you're already banged up and your one healthy linemen goes down, that will affect the outcome of the game and it did.
And yes, our three turnovers on offense did affect the outcome too, but Pitt would not have scored without that penalty.
That rule cost Notre Dame not only the game, but any chance at the BCS. It needs to be changed.