Football, football, football.

That’s what this time of year is all about.

So although the weather hasn’t felt much like football season over the course of the last week, the readers are in a football frame of mind.

Let’s answer their questions.


Is the NFL at fault for the Lions loss? Are we going to see yet another rule change because of a Lions loss? Why penalize a team with a runoff when the referees are to blame?

—Chris Snow, Portland

Sorry, Lions fan.

The NFL is not at fault for the Lions’ loss. We are also not going to see a rule change. And the Lions were not in any way penalized.

Here’s the situation:

Golden Tate caught a pass around the 1-yard line and lunged toward the end zone. On the field, the play was called a touchdown. There were eight seconds left.

Upon further review, the officials correctly determined that Tate had been touched while his knee was on the ground prior to crossing the goal line.

The reason the rulebook calls for a 10-second runoff is this: The clock only stopped because of the incorrect touchdown call and subsequent automatic review. In reality, the ball should have been down inside the 1-yard line with eight seconds left, the clock running and Detroit out of timeouts. Had that been the case, it would have been difficult for the Lions to get to the line of scrimmage, line up correctly and run a play. (Being fourth down, a spike would not have been an option.)

That’s the reason for the runoff. Without it, the stoppage of play would have given the Lions an unfair advantage — essentially a fourth timeout.

There’s no doubt it was a tough way to lose a game, but all the rules were interpreted correctly and none should be changed.


Does the Bears player (Marcus Cooper Sr.) who stopped short of the goal line Sunday make it into the 10 dumbest football plays of all time? He can't beat No. 1. Chuck Pagano who locked that up a couple years ago running a play with no offensive line. But he does challenge Leon Lett and Tony Romo's botched hold for No. 2?

—Gene Hummel, Portland

Yes, and yes.

Why players don’t just run all the way across the goal line is beyond me. What possible benefit is there to slowing down 10 yards away from the end zone? I wish someone, anyone, could answer that question.

Cooper had a good 10-yard lead on everyone. No one was going to catch him. Only he could stop himself from scoring.

And he did.

Cooper’s lazy last 10 yards for sure puts him on the list with Leon Lett and others who have slacked off near the goal line and had touchdowns stripped away at the last minute. (I don’t put Romo in that category because his was a physical error, rather than a moment of insane laziness.)

Had Cooper scored, he would have put Chicago up 21-7 over the Steelers at halftime. That would have been huge.

It’s lucky for him that the Bears won the game, or his bonehead play would be a whole lot harder for his teammates to swallow.


When will Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly be fired?

—Matt Mathias, Vincennes

He won’t be, at least not anytime soon.

The reason is fairly simple. Brian Kelly signed a five-year contract extension in early 2016 that carries him through the 2021 season.

When Notre Dame signed him to the extension, he had just posted his second-best season with the team. The Fighting Irish finished 10-3 and made it into the Bowl Championship Series. He had won at least eight games in each of his six seasons at the helm.

Of course, his 2016 squad promptly went 4-8.

The No. 22 Fighting Irish are 3-1 this year, with the lone defeat a one-point loss to 15th-ranked Georgia. That’s not a bad start.

They will play two more ranked teams — No. 5 USC and No. 14 Miami — the rest of the way. Even if they lose those two games and a couple more to finish 7-5, Kelly’s job is safe.

Though Notre Dame has done it before — see Weiss, Charlie — it makes no sense to cut the coach loose and still continue to pay him millions for another four seasons.