Monday, February 2, 2009

Scenes From A Booth

When Kurt Warner "fumbled" at the end of the Super Bowl, I noticed an unusual 15 seconds or so of silence from the broadcast booth. I suspect that the following conversation took place:

Director: Do not mention anything about the fact that they are not reviewing this play. We don't want to end the Super Bowl by casting suspicion on the NFL.

Al Michaels: Can we do that? I mean, people are going to be curious about such a close play, especially since a similar play was overturned earlier in the game.

John Madden: And then you have James Farrior taking off his helmet. What I wanna know is, if they overturn the play, does the penalty still count? Because it happened as a result of the play so it might not count, but then again, unsportsmanlike is unsportsmanlike.

Al Michaels: That's right John. We really should mention it. Not everyone out there is a sap you know.

Director: No! You will not be mentioning it. Move on to post-game activities right now.

While this was an outstanding Super Bowl, the last series left me with a bit of an empty feeling. It's unlikely that the Cardinals would have won even if a replay would have occurred (for the record, I think Kurt Warner's arm was going forward and that the refs made a bad call, but that they could not have overturned the call on replay as the evidence was inconclusive), but it would have been nice to see Larry Fitzgerald try to catch a few more bombs.

The NFL made the following statement regarding the play:

According to NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira, the replay official upstairs did see the play clearly.

"We confirmed it was a fumble," said Pereira. "The replay assistant in the replay booth saw it was clearly a fumble. The ball got knocked loose and was rolling in his hand before it started forward. He has to have total control."

I have a few problems with this. First of all, the replay officials had only the time between snaps to look at this. They must have been pretty sure of themselves in that 25 seconds to not order a more in-depth review. But aside from that, I think they're wrong. Warner does get hit before he brings his arm forward, and I think the ball does move a bit, but I also think he regains control of it (I see the seams of the ball sticking in the same place) and then completes his throw. Basically, I see a fumble (Warner) recovery (Warner) and incomplete pass.

The play was certainly not as clear-cut as the NFL is claiming.


Silverwolf said...

Great post. I also was pretty unhappy about this. My question is - doesn't the referee on the field decide what the ruling should be?

Who is really in charge? The people in the booth above, or the referee that reviews the play.

I thought it could have easily been ruled an incomplete pass, and the Cardinals should have had at least one more play, from 15 yards closer due to the personal foul.

Rob said...

Yo... Silverwolf... glad to see you are alive!

Up until the 3rd quarter I thought the Cards generally got jobbed by the refs. The 4th quarter went the other way with penalties, but I agree that Harrison should have gotton something more for his beat down.

I believe that in the last 2 minutes, the booth is in charge of when a replay is looked at by the ref.

DannyNoonan said...

How many touchdowns did Rod Tidwell have?

Silverwolf said...

B-Town Rob - Still alive, but generally a lot less visible...

So in the last 2 minutes, the booth decides what needs a replay review, but in a case like this, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect that they'd buzz the referee for anything remotely questionable? Lots of regular season games have replays in the last two minutes on plays that are less likely to be overturned than the Warner "fumble".

PaulNoonan said...

I completely agree. I've seen booth reviews for utterly meaningless questionable calls many times in the regular season. At least check it out.

Scott H said...

I agree with the last statement of it being worth high scrutiny. I do think it was actually a fumble though.

E.S.K. said...

Fumble or not, that play needed to be replayed. Everyone in the room I was at just assumed there was going to be a replay and when there wasn't the place sort of erupted.

If this were the NBA, I would know what happened, but I didn't think the NFL played that way.

Jon said...

I think it was clear-cut, a clear-cut incomplete pass. The whole game was a travesty in terms of the officiating, easily the 2nd-worst i've ever seen (behind Steelers-Seahawks debacle). How nice for the Steelers to have been gifted 2 Super Bowls by the refs.

PaulNoonan said...

I would not go that far (at all). I think there was one terrible call (the roughing the passer call) which stil resulted in a field goal for the Steelers (it cost the Cardinals nothing ultimately) and the last play, and as I said, even if everything still goes the Cardinals' way on that call, the odds were still overwhelmingly against them.

I suppose the other big one would be the missed "block in the back" on Harrison's TD, which was certainly a high-leverage blown call, but on an interception return, those calls are harder to make, as officials are not set up for a return like they are on a kickoff or punt.

Jon said...

Off the top of my head add in the 15 yard face mask penalty on a Cardinal defender during a return when the Steeler had his hands in his face mask as well. the ridiculous first inc they called a fumble until overturned by replay. the roughing the holder which technically was a penalty but my god 15 yrds for an accidental run in? the harrison blocks in back as you said which are tough to call but that play swung the game (drives me crazy that these kind of penalties are not challengable). the fact that crazy harrison punching the guy didnt get him tossed from game (and also resulted in a 1/2 yard penalty - that part not refs fault but kinda unfair rule). and lastly no celebrating/taunting penalty on santonio that easily could have been called giving cards much better field position on final drive. also you cant say the steelers gift FG cost the Cards nothing, without those 3 pts Arizona only needs 3 at end of game to win and their final drive is completely different.