The chairman of the NFL's competition committee suggested yesterday that game officials made the wrong call on an "illegal demonstration" penalty that helped the New York Giants beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.
Jim Finks, the rules chief, also said game officials may be making such calls as a protest against a rule they don't like.
The call occurred after Eric Green caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Neil O'Donnell with 50 seconds left that capped a 20-point comeback and tied the game, 20-20. Green spiked the ball, and was joined by teammates Louis Lipps and Dwight Stone in a little dance.
"What I saw was not the intent of our rules," said Finks, who also is president of the New Orleans Saints. "The demonstration was spontaneous. It wasn't long. It wasn't rehearsed."
Why the call, then?
"It's a judgment call, up to the officials," Finks said. "But my impression is that they don't like the rule, so they're going out of their way to call it to show that."
Gary Anderson kicked off from the 30 instead of the 35. The ball went out of bounds and the Giants began their final drive at their 40. Forty-six seconds later, Matt Bahr kicked a 44-yard field goal to give the Giants the 23-20 victory.
* SEAHAWKS: Dave Krieg, who was injured in the season opener, will start against Pittsburgh on Sunday, and Jeff Kemp became the odd quarterback out.
The Seahawks released Kemp, two days after he threw a critical interception in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Raiders. Kemp started five of the six games missed by Krieg, who has recovered from the broken right thumb.
Kemp had the NFL's lowest quarterback rating, 52.9, and a league-high 12 interceptions.
"I feel great professional disappointment," Kemp, 32, said. "I'm really disappointed that after giving it my best shot and working as hard as I did, I didn't play my best."
The Seahawks decided to place Kemp on waivers and keep Kelly Stouffer, 27, as their backup. Top draft choice Dan McGwire, who started one game in Krieg's absence, will be the third quarterback.
* SAINTS: Fullback Craig "Ironhead" Heyward cursed two women who sought his autograph at a suburban bar, forcefully grabbed one of them, head-butted the other and menaced both with an iron police barricade, according to a police report.
The incident happened Friday night, but the police report was not available until yesterday.
Heyward was sent home from Philadelphia on Saturday where he was scheduled to play against the Eagles on Sunday, but coach Jim Mora said that should not be viewed as a prejudgment of guilt.
Mora would not say whether Heyward had been fined or disciplined in any way.
Jefferson Parish Deputy Keith I. Bourque's report said Heyward denied any part in the incident, and the running back has refused to talk about it since then. When Bourque tracked him down at his apartment, he issued a misdemeanor summons to Heyward, instead of arresting him on allegations of simple and aggravated assault.
* EAGLES: The NFL is looking for a videotape to help determine who is telling the truth about Sunday's post-game incident in which Andre Waters, the Philadelphia strong safety, allegedly punched Saints wide receiver Eric Martin.
Waters has denied that anything happened. Martin said Waters came up from behind him after the game and struck him.
The NFL is having a difficult time finding film of the incident. CBS-TV already had cut away to the American League Championship Series baseball game. Tapes taken of the game by the two teams covered action only up to the final gun, as did those of NFL Films.
As of yesterday, a video had yet to be found, according to a league spokesman, but the search continued.
* GIANTS: Ray Handley still is looking for his perfect game from New York, but also learning to accept second-best under some circumstances.
Handley said the Giants' 23-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday night was one of those second-best circumstances.
The Giants gave Handley 42 minutes of solid football, built a 20-0 lead and then were able to drive 34 yards for a game-winning field goal by Matt Bahr after Pittsburgh rallied to tie the game, 20-20.
"We'll take the win," Handley said. "Sure, there are some things I'd like us to do better. But any W is a good W."
Still, Handley said the Giants need to improve, especially with the NFC East-leading Washington Redskins on tap a week from Sunday. Both teams have this week off.
"Obviously we are going to have to pick it up a notch in two weeks against Washington," Handley said. "I don't look at this in a sense of frustration. I am evaluating things every week. I saw some positives."
Handley said the Giants used their base 3-4 defense on the Steelers' first three scores -- two field goals by Gary Anderson and a 16-yard pass from Neil O'Donnell to Louis Lipps -- and they were in a prevent defense on Pittsburgh's game-tying score with 50 seconds to go.
"They made some good plays, O'Donnell threw some good passes and we missed some tackles," Handley said. "It was a combination of things. They made some good plays and we didn't play that well."