That's because the refs have that other equalizer called the "automatic first down" to control the outcome. How many times you see this late in a game? Popular team, trailing, has the ball late in 4th qtr. 1st down, incomplete. 2nd down, SACK! 3rd down and 18, deep pass incomplete -- looks like it's 4th and long BUT WAIT! There's a flag away from the play - defensive holding, number twenty-something! Five yards but an automatic first down! Given new life, Brady/Rodgers/Rothlisberger/Manning marches his team down the field for the game-winner! The replay truck scrambles to find a replay of the defensive holding call and they find one of a little jersey tug during hand fighting that goes on every play.My only gripe with holding calls is that they are 10 yard penalties. IF every play has at least one hold on it and running backs/recievers still aren't averaging 10 yards a play why the hell is the penalty 10 yards? It really is a drive killer unless you have an elite offense. It should be 5 yards or something.
Take away the automatic first down and it becomes just a spot foul and popular team is still forced to convert on 3rd and long.