Monday, September 24, 2007

Worst. Call. Ever?

Niners ball on the Steelers' 32. 3rd and 13 in the 3rd quarter. Alex Smith hits Vernon Davis at the 10, seemingly giving the Niners a first and goal. But the ball pops free from Davis's grip as he hits the ground and the play is ruled a fumble. Mike Nolan correctly challenges the play, since replays clearly showed that Davis makes the catch, with the ball jarring free after his elbow has hit the ground. Easy. Simple. Fucked up by referee Jerry Austin, who in some weird exhibition of bullshit and double-talk ruled that because Davis had only gotten one toe on his second foot down, it was not a catch.

Austin's was a horrible call, primarily because of the simple fact that Davis maintained posession all the way to the ground. If nothing else, his elbow constituted that second foot. And he raises a new dilemma that is certain to plague the NFL throughout the rest of history: to which part of the body is the toe connected? Mike Nolan had gone to the challenge because of the fumble. In my recollection, the officials are only allowed to look at that specific aspect of the challenge, not some larger picture. If they ruled Davis had not made the catch, why not go all the way an rule it an interception rather than an incompletion? The ball clearly never hit the ground, and was caught in mid-air by a Pittsburgh DB.

It wasn't the only play the Niners needed. They didn't lose this game because of the pseudo reversal. It was wrong though, and took the Niners out of excellent position on a play in which they did everything right. It wasn't the worst call ever, which goes to the tuck-rule crew, but it was bad.

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