One of the more controversial calls of Week Ten occurred when referee Alberto Riveron gave the Vikings two points after determining that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had committed an “illegal forward pass” in the end zone. After the game, Riveron re-characterized the call as intentional grounding, which prompted us to conclude that Riveron had whipped out the “illegal forward pass” rule during the game in order to circumvent one or more members of his crew, who were pointing out that the ball ultimately landed in the vicinity of a receiver, which precluded a finding of intentional grounding. On Wednesday, NFL V.P. of officiating Mike Pereira explained the decision to Randy Cross and Peter King of Sirius NFL Radio. Said King: “I thought on the play where Aaron Rodgers threw the ball underhanded while falling to the ground and [it] landed within a couple [or] three yards it looked like of a receiver, that that should not have been intentional grounding and thus should not have been a safety. You had a different view. Describe what you saw on that play and why you felt the call was correct.”Said Pereira: “Peter, you and I have disagreed on this already this week but, to me, we have looked at so many of these plays where you get the unnatural throwing motion where the QB is just trying to dump the ball whether it’s behind his back or whether it’s flicking it underhand just before he hits the ground when he has no idea who he might be throwing it to. Here’s the notion to me: When you’re going to be on the run like that and you are just totally dumping it either before you’re getting tackled for a safety or even -- who was the guy in Green Bay, the running back, with the uproar that we created a couple of years ago who ran into the line and kind of shoved the ball forward and we said it wasn’t intentional grounding? Remember that play? That unnatural act of dumping the ball when you’re about to be tackled. And if you’re going to do that -- and that’s what we said [with] that player in Green Bay a couple of years ago -- if you’re going to do that you’d better get it all the way back to the line of scrimmage or you’d better get it to the feet of the receiver. So, to me, it’s a clear dump to avoid the safety. It wasn’t a natural throwing motion and it’s not one that we haven’t seen before and, to me, it’s intentional grounding.” [Editor’s note: Pereira was referring to a two-handed heave made by former Packers running back Samkon Gado from his own endzone during a December 2005 Sunday night game against the Lions. The officials initially ruled that it was a safety. They later concluded that it was not intentional grounding, because Gado was out of the pocket and the ball had crossed the line of scrimmage during the “throw.”] With all due respect to Pereira (especially since he seems to agree with our assessment that Adrian Peterson should have been penalized for removing his helmet after scoring the decisive touchdown), we’ve studied the rules yet again, and the nature of the throwing motion simply isn’t a factor in determining whether there was a realistic chance that the pass would be completed. The throwing motion is relevant, in our view, only to the question of whether the passer threw the ball in order to avoid a loss of yardage. In this case, Rodgers clearly went Favre in order to prevent a safety. But intentional grounding doesn’t arise only from a throw made in order to avoid a loss of yardage; there also must not be a realistic chance that the pass will be completed. And though Pereira asserts that when the throwing motion is unnatural the ball needs to land at the feet of the receiver to be regarded as having a realistic chance of completion, the rules contain no such exception. In this case, it was far more likely than the chuck-and-roll from Rodgers would have been caught by a teammate than Eli Manning’s straight-to-the-ground spike that landed roughly a yard from the feet of Kevin Boss on Sunday night in Philly. So we’re still where we were on Sunday afternoon. We think Riveron’s crew insisted that it couldn’t be grounding, that Riveron opted to cite another rule that in reality didn’t apply, and that after the game Riveron and the league re-embraced the grounding concept in the hopes that the whole thing would die quickly and quietly.