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Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Wake-up: Was Tebow's winning TD illegal?

By Jamison Hensley

Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:

The Tim Tebow touchdown pass that beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime shouldn't have counted.

That's the assertion of the San Jose Mercury News, which says the Broncos should have been flagged for illegal formation. Using a pre-snap picture, the paper points out that Denver had six players -- and not the required seven -- on the line of scrimmage.

It appears that the tight end lining up next to the left tackle is not on the line. Based on that, the officials should've thrown the flag and moved the Broncos back five yards. Instead, Tebow threw an 80-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first play in overtime.

Former head of officiating Mike Pereira was asked by the Mercury News whether it was an illegal formation.

"Watch on any Sunday. This is a good formation compared to many. They are not technical with this," Pereira said.

Hensley's slant: This is one of many plays that highlight how bad the officiating was for that game. There was a Ben Roethlisberger pass that was ruled incomplete that should have been a fumble because it wasn't a forward pass. But the officials said the play was whistled dead, and the Steelers went on to score. So both sides benefited from and were hurt by the officials throughout the game.

BENGALS: The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy officially called the Carson Palmer trade one of the "all-time steals in league history" after coach Hue Jackson, who helped orchestrate the deal on Oct. 18, was fired by Oakland. The Raiders were 4-2 at the time of the trade and finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs. The Bengals get the Raiders' first-round pick, which turned out to be the 17th overall. Hensley's slant: Most people thought it was a steal the day it happened. The Raiders, the only team that would be bold enough to send two high draft picks for a 31-year-old quarterback, continue to be the NFL's most unstable franchise. The next head coach will be Oakland's seventh in the past 10 seasons, following Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Jackson.

BROWNS: The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Tony Grossi offered up another candidate to be the Browns' next starting quarterback: Kevin Kolb. He disappointed in his first season with the Cardinals (going 2-6 as the starter) and is due a $7 million roster bonus from Arizona in March. Grossi believes Kolb would be more effective in the West Coast offense that he ran in Philadelphia, where his quarterbacks coach was Pat Shurmur. Hensley's slant: There's no doubt that Kolb is a better fit in Cleveland's system that the one in Arizona, which attacks downfield more aggressively. But I don't see the Cardinals cutting their ties with Kolb after giving him $21.5 million guaranteed six months ago. Getting Kolb seems more like wishful thinking at this point.

RAVENS: The team confirmed that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was at the Texans-Bengals wild-card playoff game to do some advance scouting. “He’s done that quite a few times over the years when we’ve had bye weeks and stuff like that,” coach John Harbaugh said, via The Baltimore Sun. “So that’s something that I think he likes to do. It gives him a feel, watching the game live, scouting the game live. It’s not so much X’s and O’s as it is a feel for the tempo and things like that. That’s something he likes to do, and he’s done that over the years.” Hensley's slant: Cameron hasn't turned the Ravens into a top-10 offense yet (they were No. 15 this season) but he's done a solid job considering the quality of defenses that Baltimore has faced. The Ravens have played 11 games against top-10 defenses this year. The only top-10 defense that the Ravens didn't play (outside of itself) was the Philadelphia Eagles. So it's status quo for Baltimore when it lines up against Houston and the league's second-ranked defense.