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04 Feb 2013

Audibles at the Line: Super Bowl XLVII

compiled by Rivers McCown

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. The amount of text dedicated to the specific elements in a specific game do not necessarily represent our belief about what were the most important issues in that game. These just happened to be the thoughts that came to us at the time.

In addition, we watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a 49ers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

This is not really a problem for this week, of course.

Sunday, February 3

San Francisco 49ers 31 vs. Baltimore Ravens 34

Aaron Schatz: 9,000 HOURS OF PREGAME!!!!!

Tom Gower: I feel like letting the rest of the staff know that a commenter on this week's Scramble objected to our inclusion of Ray Lewis on the All-KCW team (on the grounds of having over 50 plays and only one Defeat) because the Ravens had a better record with Lewis in the lineup than they did without him. LINEBACKER WINS FTW!

Vince Verhei: You know, I would be a lot more comfortable with quarterback wins if they were used to judge other positions too.

Ben Muth: My favorite was when people were talking about Trindon Holliday being undefeated this year. Return specialist wins are the best wins.

Aaron Schatz: I also like punter wins. Back in 2009, Brett Kern was cut by the 6-0 Broncos and picked up by the 0-6 Titans, who then went 8-2 the rest of the way, Kern had the best record of any player in the NFL that season.

Tom Gower: Who can forget the great 2009 Week 13 showdown between the 11-0 Indianapolis Colts and 11-0 Brett Kern? The Colts won that day, but both finished 14-2 on the season.

Rivers McCown: Amateurs. We all know that long snapper wins are the only wins that truly matter.

Andy Benoit: All set up here in press row. Extremely cramped, but it's the Super Bowl, can't complain.

Aaron Schatz: No, complaining is for next year when auxiliary press space is outside in the snow.

Andy Benoit: More Ravens fans than Niners fans in the building tonight.

Ben Muth: Illegal formation on the first play of the game is as bad as it gets.

Tom Gower: What a lousy opening drive for the 49ers, with the illegal formation penalty (how?!) and the second-down play-fake to the wrong side (?!). Great pancake by Frank Gore of Arthur Jones on the play, but still...

Danny Tuccitto: Mike, Boger said the illegal formation call was that Michael Crabtree covered up Vernon Davis, but when they showed the All-22 angle, Crabtree was off the line. Yes, no, maybe?

Tom Gower: The slot receiver was definitely covering Davis.

Danny Tuccitto: Davis WAS in the slot. I'm confused.

Tom Gower: The player lined up in the slot covered up the player lined up as the inline tight end, whoever those were.

Ben Muth: That illegal formation might replace Leon Lett getting stripped by Don Beebe as the dumbest play in Super Bowl history. They've ran or walked through that play a dozen times in the past week. Incredibly stupid.

Andy Benoit: Great formation design on the first Ravens touchdown. Empty 3x2 set with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith each aligned tight in the slot. That got them matched on linebackers, and Boldin was open over the middle on a relatively easy pitch and catch.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, not only matched on linebackers, but Donte Whitner didn't seem to react very quickly on realizing that Boldin was past NaVorro Bowman and coming into the end zone.

Matt Waldman: Boldin does a nice Shannon Sharpe at this age.

Mike Kurtz: While the Ravens scored a touchdown, the play of their receivers on the second down was absolutely abysmal. Joe Flacco bought them tons of time, moved up in the pocket, got outside and made the linebackers pursue him. Three of his eligibles? Basically standing still on the other side of the field, making no attempt at moving to the right side. Absolutely pathetic effort.

Danny Tuccitto: And now that the Ravens scored on their first drive, I'm agitated. How does Ahmad Brooks jump offsides when he's lined up over the ball?

Andy Benoit: Ravens appear to be defending the read-option like the Falcons did.

Aaron Schatz: Similar to how they did against the Redskins, I guess. Make them hand off and hope you can stop the running back.

On second-and-goal, was Terrell Suggs supposed to be left unblocked? It wasn't a read-option ... that looked like a mistake. The Ravens didn't get the sack there, but they did on the next play.

Danny Tuccitto: The long pass to Davis on the 49ers second drive came with Ed Reed as the single-high safety in Cover-1, which is one of the ways Chris Brown said Baltimore might defend San Francisco's pistol read-option.

And now that I think about it, Reed was single-high safety again on the incompletion to Crabtree at the goal line, which looked to me like it was intended to Randy Moss, who was wide open.

Andy Benoit: Niners are running almost all twin wideout sets, and the Ravens are not having cornerbacks switch with it. They’re staying with zone concepts in quarters coverages.

Ben Muth: Ravens are really timing up the snap. Two plays in a row at the end of the drive, the Ravens had guys get great jumps. The second time was a sack for Paul Kruger where Anthony Davis didn't even have a chance because of Kruger's jump. Colin Kaepernick has to change up the count.

Aaron Schatz: What's the difference between Pepsi Next and Pepsi One? I'm getting seriously confused on my low-calorie soda alternatives.

Tom Gower: Apparently Pepsi One is the low-cal soda and Pepsi Next is the one with the hallucinogenics.

Ray Lewis looked every bit as old as I thought he was on that second 49ers drive. If Davis is able to play and move like he's capable of moving, that should be every bit the problem I thought it would be.

Mike Kurtz: Lewis is a massive liability thus far today. The Niners are running at him, they're throwing at him, and it's working nearly every time.

Aaron Schatz: Wow. Boldin, wow. I don't know what Chris Culliver was doing on that play. I thought Flacco was throwing it away, and Boldin moves over to get it, and for some reason right when they're about to get to the ball, Culliver kind of held up, and that allowed Boldin to catch it. I have no idea why Culliver kind of held up there. Afraid of an unnecessary roughness call if he hit Boldin? That's the only thing I can think of.

Andy Benoit: Ravens going no huddle but they’re not hurrying. They’re also substituting. Niners playing a lot of straight two-man. Good coverage was led to the Ray McDonald sack at end of first quarter.

Ben Muth: 49ers run a tackle-end twist for a sack. Ravens have been sliding towards the left, leaving the right side in man. Tough to pass off twists in two-on-two man protection.

Aaron Schatz: If I have to read another "Boy, that throw shows Flacco is elite!" tweet on the Twitter, I am going to hurt someone. I'm sorry, five months ago when you people thought Flacco sucked, you didn't notice he had a lot of arm strength?

Rivers McCown: Every throw that Quarterback X makes is more important now than the ones that preceded it, don't you understand?

Vince Verhei: 49ers' first two drives were almost all pistol or shotgun. They weren't using them that exclusively in their first playoff games, were they?

Aaron Schatz: LaMichael James just fumbled. He definitely lost it before he was down. But am I crazy to think there was a facemask by a Ravens defender earlier in that play that got missed?

Andy Benoit: Against read-option, Ravens are attacking Kaepernick with their outside linebackers and dropping Bernard Pollard into the box to shore up at second level. Kaepernick is handing off, Gore getting good yards inside due to Niners winning in the trenches.

Aaron Schatz: Too much zone by the 49ers defense here. I think they need to go more man. We know the Ravens struggle to beat man, and the big catches are mostly coming on zone, like where Ed Dickson was wide open coming over the middle with about nine minutes left in the second quarter.

Danny Tuccitto: Can the first quarter-and-a-half be any more of a testament to the randomness of football? So far, we have Flacco heaving balls into the air that find receivers, Dickson catching passes that ricochet off himself, Baltimore recovering a fumble, and San Francisco getting called for several penalties. 49ers down 14-3, and I'm ready to give up on the idea of an orderly universe.

Aaron Schatz: Well, Kaepernick's interception was absolutely not random. That sucker was seriously overthrown. That was a big, big miss, and all the quarterback's fault.

Ben Muth: Kaepernick audibles to a deep play-action pass and throws a pick. Then there's a huge scrum that leads to offsetting personal fouls. I have no idea what happened because CBS' 250 cameras didn't catch how it started.

Andy Benoit: Did it look like Moss completely quit on the interception to anyone else?

Aaron Schatz: The ball was five feet over his head, what was he supposed to do? Or do you mean that he quit as in "he didn't try to tackle Reed after the pick?"

Tom Gower: I didn't love Moss's effort on the route, either, but it didn't make a difference.

Matt Waldman: Regardless of how one feels about Moss' effort, one glaring issue with Kaepernick's game at this early stage of his career as a starter is the fact that since he's been in the lineup, he lacks the touch, timing, and anticipation to make the most of Moss' skills. Of course, Moss is not the same player, but his ability to track the ball and play in tight coverage is every bit as good as what we've seen from an aging Boldin this year. The problem is that Kaepernick is hesitant to throw his receivers open. Young quarterbacks typically don't possess this level of confidence in situations where it makes sense to throw it. They are either too reckless or too conservative. When a player like Kurt Warner talks about how difficult it was to overcome his reticence to target Larry Fitzgerald in tight coverage -- perhaps the best tight-coverage receiver in the game today -- just imagine how difficult it must be for a younger passer. And no, this analysis does not imply Alex Smith would be better. Smith cannot throw the deep ball with anticipation. He might be better in red-zone situations, but not enough that you bench Kaepernick for a veteran who "might" have better touch with an aging vet who might be the third option in this passing game.

Tom Gower: Remember when Aldon Smith was a defensive player of the year candidate? That feels like a very, very, very long time ago right now.

Aaron Schatz: Ravens seem to be putting a number of spread formations out there, trying to force the 49ers to put cornerbacks on tight ends and running backs while they put safeties or linebackers on receivers. That worked on the first Boldin touchdown, and I've seen it working a few times since.

FAKE!!!! I called it! I called it! And it fails! I don't think you call a fake field goal with nine yards to go.

Vince Verhei: Not on a pitch to the kicker, that's for sure.

Tom Gower: I concur. Eight or nine yards to go is just too far for me, though if Dickson (I believe) gets a better block, I think Tucker probably makes it.

Aaron Schatz: OK, I'm generally not a believer that the team with more experience should be favored in the Super Bowl, but I do wonder if we're starting to see rookie mistakes and misunderstandings from Kaepernick here. That almost-pick by Cary Williams was pretty bad.

OK, "first-time starter" mistakes rather than "rookie" mistakes, I suppose.

Tom Gower: He didn't throw with anticipation, and the throw was too far to the inside. Is that the result of inexperience in pressure situations or just a non-great player (who'd played great at times during the playoffs) making non-great plays? My vote is for the latter.

Aaron Schatz: Andy Lee just punted the ball so far that there weren't any 49ers coverage guys close to Jacoby Jones when Jones muffed it.

Vince Verhei: 49ers have gone with the give-up draw on third-and-long twice in the first half. That's an "I don't have faith in my quarterback" call.

Ben Muth: Finally saw what started the fight on the pick thanks to CBS.com's awesome All-22 camera. Ravens end Jones tried to throw a late and dirty cut block on Joe Staley. It was like the block that knocked Brian Cushing out for the year, but a hair after the whistle. Staley was pissed and dove on Jones, starting the scrum.

Aaron Schatz: We officially have to have a "why was that not offensive pass interference on Torrey Smith?" comment in Audibles, right?

Mike Kurtz: Because he was arm-barred and the back judge probably decided it was all just handfighting.

Aaron Schatz: Jacoby Jones touchdown. Right side, of course. How many times tonight have we seen a Ravens receiver with two or three 49ers defenders standing in front of him, and the Ravens guy somehow jukes and maneuvers his way around the defenders to get extra yards, and a first down or a touchdown? What is going on with the 49ers and tackling guys in space?

Tom Gower: Jones double-moved Culliver and got ridiculously wide open. Whitner continued his stupendous evening, I believe, by losing his deep coverage.

Andy Benoit: Culliver thought the safety over the top would help but that safety was preoccupied by an underneath route extending in seams. Culliver’s body language in coverage suggested that he was not supposed to get help in that situation, like he realized his mistake.

Danny Tuccitto: Nice of Whitner to show up today.

By the way, did anyone else catch Phil Simms saying, on first down around the two-minute warning down 21-3, something to the effect of "Kaepernick needs to be really conservative with the ball here?" They're freaking down 18 with two timeouts left. What? Are they supposed to just kneel the ball and concede an 18-point deficit at halftime?

Andy Benoit: Kaepernick had Crabtree on a rollout on that third-and-2 late in the first half, but he didn’t pull the trigger on the crossing pattern. Elected to tuck and run instead. Unsuccessful.

Vince Verhei: Well, he had him, but the play wouldn't have been a touchdown anyway. It would have bought them another shot or two at the end zone, but they might have kicked a field goal anyway.

Ben Muth: I thought Kaepernick was pretty brutal in that first half. After the first drive, I think you can blame the stalling of every 49ers drive on him. Kruger gets a sack because they weren't changing up the count, he hands off to James on an obvious keep read and James fumbles, he throws a pick, and he doesn't see Crabtree (who should be the first option) on that sprint out to end the half.

Whitner has been beyond bad. It's like Craig Morton is playing safety.

Also, I thought Michael Oher has been solid except for that one sack, and I give half the credit of that to Flacco/coverage.

Aaron Schatz: So, what do we think the 49ers have to do at halftime to adjust, other than "play better" and "tackle guys in space" and "stop making mistakes?"

Rivers McCown: Stop running Gary Kubiak's patented third-and-long give-up draws. Throw to Vernon Davis.

Matt Waldman: I think beyond what Rivers mentioned, I'd like to see a little more of LaMichael James. The Ravens defense can't cope with that kind of speed and the 49ers have very little of that beyond Davis. Since Jim Harbaugh isn't as conservative as Tom Coughlin about turnovers, I'd expect to see a little more of James because he was playing well before that effort fumble cost the 49ers early.

Mike Kurtz: Get back to exploiting Ray Lewis. Throw the book at him, Reed will have to start moving up to help and the top will be wide open.

Aaron Schatz: I'm all about the Destiny's Child reunion, but someone tell them that ten years later, you are allowed to remove the movie references from your movie tie-in song.

Andy Benoit: Aaron, you're nitpicking! Destiny's Child was awesome!

Aaron Schatz: Oh, totally nitpicking. It was great.

Vince Verhei: I had to leave the house for "Single Ladies." Then my fiancée locked me out. Had she not let me back in, the lady would have indeed been single.

Rivers McCown: She'd have most of your worldly possessions, though. It wouldn't be so bad.

Aaron Schatz: Jacoby Jones kickoff return, there are the Baltimore special teams. There have been some crazy comebacks this season, but yeah, this one seems pretty over.

I can't identify from the TV tape who the 49ers coverage guy that totally blew a tackle at the start of that return was. That guy is not going to be feeling very good about himself for the next couple weeks.

Vince Verhei: Remember how Jacoby Jones' playoff season ended last year? He's doing better here.

Matt Waldman: What is it with these former Texans special team return specialists, Rivers?

Rivers McCown: Amazing what happens when they play on special teams units that have an actual coordinator.

Aaron Schatz: The second-guessing about the Texans letting guys go is getting a little ridiculous, though. It's like people don't remember that Jones' mistakes in last year's playoffs ever happened.

Matt Waldman: Jones' game is basically executing like a starter for 99 percent of a play, then doing that one percent so incredibly wrong that it ruins the execution and rips the heart out of coaches and teammates at the same time. I don't blame Houston for letting him go, but I am happy that he's doing better. He has been a tease since he looked so promising at the college level.

Ben Muth: Kaepernick basically just sacked himself, though Arthur Jones will get credit. He's going into full-blown panic mode in the pocket; he looks at one guy and then immediately tries to run around and make a play. He did the same thing against Seattle.

Danny Tuccitto: Alright, guys. I'm checking out of this to go drown my sorrows. I'll simply note in closing that it would really do us good to figure out why the better team loses every Super Bowl these days.

Mike Kurtz: Super Bowl XLVII: Into Darkness

Tom Gower: Nice job, Danny, taking the Superdome lights down with you.

Matt Waldman: He must have been singing Dandy Don Meredith's ditty as he left.

Danny Tuccitto: My brother just texted me intimating the same thing. Apparently, my superpower is electromagnetic pulse.

Ben Muth: And now the power is out, I assume it's a distraction from Goodell so no one can see Jim Harbaugh eating the heart of his special teams coach.

Rivers McCown: What is taking Bane so long? Does he really want us to watch Bill Cowher stump for Alex Smith that badly? Well, I guess that is kind of evil...

Mike Kurtz: I remember last year, when a power outage occurred in an important game involving the 49ers.

I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.

Danny Tuccitto: So, according to Shannon Sharpe, all it takes to return a kickoff for a touchdown is to "know when it's kicked that you're bringing the ball out."

Also, since we have some time here, anyone with DVR, feel free to rewind to Jones' kickoff return touchdown, and watch Brendon Ayanbadejo's bear hug on Bruce Miller in the middle of the field.

Ben Muth: These CBS studio guys are making my head hurt. Cowher is lobbying for Alex Smith and Shannon Sharpe rambling incoherently.

Andy Benoit: At least that wasn't as bad as the last time the Superdome lost power...

Aaron Schatz: To respond to Danny's comment: "it would really do us good to figure out why the better team loses every Super Bowl these days."

I honestly think the answer is just "Wyatt Earp."

The low-seeded team going on an unexpected run to a Super Bowl title is now as emblematic of this era as the NFC blowout victory was emblematic of another era. And just like that trend, eventually, this too shall pass. I really don't think it's an issue of "regular-season performance is no longer indicative of postseason performance, period."

It looks like a trend, for sure. From 1978 through 2006, only one team won a Super Bowl after going 10-6 or worse. Assuming the 49ers don't make a massive comeback here, this will be the fourth time since 2007. And yet, I think each of these teams is its own story, and we just happened to have rolled snake eyes at the craps table three or four times in the last six years. That doesn't mean it's a trend, or that one of the dice now has nothing but "ones."

The other thing I'll say is that the storyline here is "The Ravens got hot in the playoffs." But going into this game, why would we think the Ravens had any more momentum than the 49ers? In the last two playoff games, each team had one big comeback win in a close game and one game where they dominated the other team in the second half. The only difference is that the weeks were reversed. This isn't a case of "the team with momentum in the playoffs now will win" because the team with momentum was both of them.

Ben Muth: The Wyatt Earp Effect would be an awesome name for a band.

Mike Kurtz: While I think your points are well taken, Aaron, it's worth mentioning that while the 49ers did have that big comeback, it means they had to wage a big comeback against the Falcons. I don't think there's much of a "momentum" argument. If such an argument is ever not silly.

Aaron Schatz: Is there that much more of a "momentum" argument for Baltimore playing very good against New England for 30 minutes after they needed a huge blown coverage to send the Denver game to overtime?

Mike Kurtz: Absolutely not.

Vince Verhei: Baltimore has the ball up 22 points in the third quarter and they're still throwing on every down. One, it hardly matters, but they can't run and they know it. Two, this game is going to take forever.

Danny Tuccitto: Totally legal for Corey Graham to grab Crabtree after getting beat by two yards. God, this is depressing.

Aaron Schatz: Baltimore got away with pass interference again, this time on defense. Graham definitely grabbed Crabtree's arm to slow him down a few feet before the deep second-down bomb came down. Crabtree almost caught it anyway, but I was surprised there was no flag there.

Mike Kurtz: Borderline call, and they've been letting them play.

Andy Benoit: Ravens playing Cover-3 concepts in the second half, Niners have route combinations on for beating it. It’s a look the Ravens went with in the first half, but it was less poignant because Niners weren’t spreading and throwing like that then.

Aaron Schatz: Baltimore's "Hey, why don't we not block Ahmad Brooks" protection call goes along with San Francisco's "let's not block Terrell Suggs" protection call from the first quarter.

Ben Muth: I have no idea what Bryant McKinnie was thinking on that Brooks sack.

Great block by Delanie Walker on Reed to spring the Gore counter touchdown.

Vince Verhei: Walker's block was more spectacular, but let's recognize Moss for sealing the cornerback off too. Point is, great blocking by San Francisco.

Aaron Schatz: Man, we did it again, we wrote them off too soon. I swore I would not do it all through halftime, and then after the return touchdown I did it.

I am disappointed in Jim Harbaugh for not going for two at either 28-12 or 18-19.

Mike Kurtz: It's way too early to start doing two-point conversion math.

Aaron Schatz: No it's not. The sooner you go for two, the sooner you know if you missed the two and thus have to change your strategy to make sure you get in another scoring drive. Chase Stuart has been writing about this a lot lately.

Andy Benoit: When Davis runs a pattern from an inside dual tight end spot along the line of scrimmage, he’s often the intended receiver.

Suggs has been a nonfactor as a pass-rusher.

Aaron Schatz: Justin Smith hasn't been much of a factor either. Kelechi Osemele has mostly handled him.

Tom Gower: This blackout momentum narrativity stuff is driving me nuts.

Mike Kurtz: Agreed, Tom. It's ruining the second half for me.

Vince Verhei: I am cheering for Baltimore just so that won't be the story after the game.

Andy Benoit: Are the CBS broadcasters really playing that up?

Aaron Schatz: Yes, and it is REALLY being played up on Twitter.

Haloti Ngata is now doubtful for return. That's not good news for the Ravens.

Andy Benoit: Brooks has had a very good game, particularly in run defense (backside and playside). Bernard Pierce has a fantastic knack for turning the corner, and the ability to break tackles on the edges.

I guess they don't call hits out of bounds in the Super Bowl...

Vince Verhei: Man coverage against the 49ers leads to a Kaepernick rushing touchdown. You have to either blitz him to force the ball out of his hands or play zone so you can keep your eyes on him.

Ben Muth: Ravens run a heavy blitz to the offense's left and a tackle-end stunt to the left. DeAngelo Tyson, the defensive tackle, has to get outside and keep contain. You have to be aware that the blitz from the other side could force an early flush. If he's where he should be, he falls into an easy sack.

On the two-point play, Kaepernick changed the play when the Ravens showed all-out blitz. Then the Ravens were all over the snap count again and forced the bad pass to Moss.

Tom Gower: I am sitting here almost hyperventilating at Phil Simms acting like Jim Harbaugh might not go for two down 31-29 in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Schatz: I can't believe the 49ers are challenging the spot on the Boldin first down. I mean, it looks like he didn't get it from the video, but how on earth can you take the chance you won't get the challenge and you lose a timeout you might desperately need at the end of a close game -- just to get third-and-a-foot which the Ravens probably convert?

Rivers McCown: I think Harbaugh was just sick of the refs not spotting the ball well and it blew up into a frustration challenge.

Ben Muth: Yeah, haven't loved some of Jim Harbaugh's decisions this game.

Aaron Schatz: Boldin catches the back shoulder on third-and-a-foot. Terrible decision to check off to a pass, great catch by Boldin to make it work anyway.

Vince Verhei: I don't know if any receiver in the league has stronger hands than Boldin. Once he gets it, you're not knocking it out.

Ben Muth: I'd like to thank Todd Haley and Michael Bidwell for going scorched earth on Boldin and driving him from Arizona. It's not like Boldin would've made a difference the last few years with Ryan Lindley and Max Hall, but it's still frustrating.

Vince Verhei: REEAAAALLLLLLLY don't like Baltimore's decision to not call timeout before the two-minute warning on defense.

Aaron Schatz: I think the Ravens got away with holding by Jimmy Smith in the end zone there on fourth down. I understand the idea that both guys are fighting there, but Smith is grabbing Crabtree's jersey.

Ben Muth: Baltimore with the all-out blitz on fourth down, similar to the two-point conversion call. It's obvious they didn't think Kaepernick could make a quick read and throw to beat them in close quarters.

Mike Kurtz: You're never going to get anything like that called when the ball is four yards out of bounds.

Aaron Schatz: Well, the ball's not four yards out of bounds when the holding takes place!

I'll go with what K.C. Joyner is saying on Twitter. If both guys are holding each other, and you have penalties on both sides, call offsetting penalties on both sides and replay the fourth down without giving the 49ers a new set of downs.

Mike Kurtz: Haha, that is true. But remember what I said about secondary fouls ... you're supposed to sit back, replay the action in your head, and then decide whether you saw a penalty. There's also the question of whether the ball was in the air when the contact occurred, which would make catchability extremely relevant. There's a lot for the side judge to resolve in favor of a penalty.

Tom Gower: I've been on this on Twitter, but I hate sprint X option with a fiery passion. I don't hate sprint right option quite as much as I hate sprint left option with a right-handed quarterback (remember Matt Ryan's late first-half interception against the Packers a couple years ago?), but it compresses the field, demands a quick throw, doesn't give the quarterback a running lane, and generally necessitates having to make a throw into a tight window. Your best hope is something backside comes open, which depends on the quarterback having enough time. Sometimes it works, but not always.

I also hate timing patterns in do-or-die situations, like the speed out on third down or the fourth down out-and-up. Not as much as sprint X option, but enough.

Ben Muth: I hate people crapping on the 49ers playcalling. What do you want them to run? They got the quarterback out of the pocket once, called a quarterback counter that was negated because they couldn't get it off, and three passes where Kaepernick could run at anytime. I guess people want them to run the read-option ... but it worked twice all game. The last play wasn't just a fade. You don't get to see the entire route tree when the defense blitzes and plays cover-0.

Vince Verhei: San Fran has one timeout at the end of the game. At least one was burned earlier to avoid a delay of game, right before the failed fourth-down play. I don't remember the other, but regardless, sure would be nice to have those timeouts now, as Baltimore is about to punt with ten seconds left.

Tom Gower: The intentional safety included a fantastic Ed Dickson-on-Anthony Dixon hold in the end zone.

Danny Tuccitto: OK, now that they lost, I'm back. Lttle did we all know that the most important story of the week was Football Zebras' investigative report about the league rigging it so that Jerome Boger could ref this game. Can't remember the last time a crew had so much influence over a Super Bowl.

And, yes, I know this sounds borderline paranoid. However, at this moment, I feel like I'm allowed to vent.

Rivers McCown: That was a poorly officiated game. A great game, and fantastic fun to watch, but just a disaster from the Boger crew.

Mike Kurtz: OK, what exactly was disastrous? I'm getting really, really sick of hearing this after every game.

Danny Tuccitto: C'mon, Mike. When the game is on Game Rewind, I'd be happy to post screencaps of every joke of a non-call against the 49ers. There's Ayanbadejo's uncalled hold on Miller during Jones' kickoff return touchdown. There's the joke of a spot on Boldin's third-down catch near the end that ultimately got overturned. There's the holding at the end that will go down in Super Bowl lore. There's the hold on Graham when he was beat by two yards. There's Brown destroying Akers, and it's called running into the kicker instead of roughing. I mean, this was an abomination of officiating that eclipses every previous abomination I've almost certainly exaggerated in Audibles previously.

Ben Muth: For me, not ejecting Cary Williams was pretty bad. I know it wouldn't have made a difference, but the fact that they didn't call a hold on the intentional safety was also pretty embarrassing. Other than that, I thought it was below average, but not Seattle-Pittsburgh bad.

Tom Gower: As with every Jerome Boger game, we teetered on the edge of disaster the whole time, but didn't fall over the edge of the abyss. Bad for the league that somebody who does such a poor job of managing and controlling a game worked the highest-profile annual sporting event in the American landscape, especially when reports indicate he didn't deserve to do so. That said, I'm pretty much with Mike on the calls.

Mike Kurtz: Teetered on the edge of disaster? Really? It was a bit chippy. It could have been managed better. There were borderline calls, but there were borderline calls for and against both teams because there are borderline calls for and against every team in every game. I guarantee that outside of that last play, nobody on Earth will be discussing the officiating of this game tomorrow except people like us who are either extremely interested or extremely sensitive to the subject.

And Danny, your team just lost a really close game, I'm not going to impugn your god-given right to be angry about the officiating of the game. I was responding to Rivers.

Danny Tuccitto: And this is all coming from an acknowledgment that, putting the officiating aside, Baltimore was just as deserving of a winner as San Francisco tonight. Just wish, like every Super Bowl I've watched in my lifetime, I actually felt like the players had the final say.

Aaron Schatz: Not every Super Bowl. Look, I'm not happy that the Pats lost twice, and there were some questionable calls in those games, but I think only the most Pats homer of all Pats homers thinks that the Pats lost because of the officials. And I don't think a lot of the Cardinals fans think that about 2008, or Colts fans about 2009, or Steelers fans about 2010.

I think the officiating in this game had more questionable calls than any Super Bowl since the Steelers-Seahawks one. I don't think that it spoils Baltimore's win, but this wasn't just the same as every other Super Bowl.

Vince Verhei: I thought the non-holding call in the end zone would usually have been called, but it was consistent with the way the refs were calling the game. They were letting the players play more often than not.

I'm sure that if you went frame by frame through any given game you'd find a dozen missed calls. These were more prominent because it was the Super Bowl, but it never occurred to me that the reffing was any different than any other game.

Danny Tuccitto: I think Aaron's point is a more level-headed version of what I'm trying to say about the officiating. I'm aware I'm a major culprit when it comes to FO guys ripping officials in Audibles, but I've just never seen something like this in a Super Bowl, although the PIT-SEA game comes close, and that's a damn shame.

Aaron Schatz: "Consistent with the way the refs were calling the game" sounds about right. Almost all the calls we have been complaining about here were of the pass interference/illegal contact kind. It's true that by the time we got to that last drive, the officials basically had established that they were going to allow wide latitude on those penalties. The worst thing is not questionable penalties, but inconsistent questionable penalties.

Ben Muth: Yeah, they generally seemed to let guys play. A late hit on Flacco out of bounds wasn't called, and I feel like that's called in 90 percent of games.

Danny Tuccitto: "Wide latitude" is being charitable. When you let blockers bear hug and let coverage guys hold on for dear life after getting beat, that's just bad officiating. Why have rules at all with latitude that wide?

Rivers McCown: I feel like when you can point out like nine individual plays where someone had a legitimate beef, plus the Flacco out-of-bounds hit, a few really poor spots, and Williams not getting thrown out in a fight that only escalated because the officials weren't doing anything to keep the game under control, I have a right to say that it was a poorly officiated game. Sorry you don't feel the same, Mike. I'm not saying either team was put at a disadvantage by it (though Danny may not feel the same), just that I felt it was objectively poor.

Seattle-Pittsburgh was worse, for what that's worth.

Danny Tuccitto: See, to me, the hit on Flacco was a true borderline call that can go either way. He was hit in the chest outside the pocket at the very edge of the field. Some refs might call that, some might not. That's a far cry from the calls I listed, where it seemed like a scenario right out of an officiating exam.

Rob Weintraub: On the list of talking points from this game, the officiating is about 15th. Just not nearly the issue it's being made out to be. I would rather be Jerome Boger tomorrow than the head of Superdome Stadium Operations, that's for sure.

Andy Benoit: Super Bowl Sunday in New Orleans lived up to the hype. Besides the temporary power outage, the entire spectacle was a huge success. After the game, I went down to the main concourse and caught a snippet of Jim Harbaugh’s press conference. After about the third time he complained about the officiating, I left and wandered around the concourse. Steve Bisciotti came strolling through, smoking a cigar with some 20 members of his family trailing him.

After milling around with the Bisciotti family for a few minutes, I went into the Ravens locker room. You wouldn’t believe how subdued it was. There was no champagne or wild cheering. A lot of the team was still out on the field at that point, but even when Ray Lewis entered, things stayed pretty calm. Lewis did not cry or sermonize or doing anything particularly Lewisy. I stood beside his locker for a good 10 minutes. Several members of his family were there, including two of his younger sons who sat and watched their dad quietly. At one point, Ray handed one of them a shoe (he needed that shoe, he proclaimed to the trainer when it appeared for a moment that the shoe was lost). He told his son to read the insole of the shoe, which I saw contained a list of Lewis’s career accomplishments.

The calm of the locker room was shattered when Suggs entered. He thunderously pounded on a locker and announced that the champions were here. He hollered about getting naked with teammates (that’s technically what all the Ravens were doing at that point). He sang songs. He poked fun at Lewis. When Reed entered, the energy continued to pick up. A few minutes after Reed came in, the Ravens’ most famous fan, Michael Phelps, showed up and congratulated each of the players. It was strange seeing Phelps acting as a fan; aside from a few photographs and quick interviews, people treated him as just another guy in the locker room.

The closest I saw Flacco come to showing any real jubilation was when Phelps congratulated him, and it’s not like he went nuts. That’s not to say he wasn’t enjoying the moment, but Flacco is as understated as they come. And, now, he’s a Super Bowl MVP.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 04 Feb 2013

294 comments, Last at 13 Feb 2013, 4:16am by bengt


by Flounder :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:10am

And I'm reminded why I basically stopped reading audibles: the non-stop bitching, whining, moaning about and nit-picking of the officiating.

The non-call on fourth down was perfectly fine.
The officiating in general was perfectly fine.
Get over yourselves.

by steveNC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:26am

>The officiating in general was perfectly fine.

Not really, unless the standard is really low now.

by BJR :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:32am

I stopped reading after the first few comments ridiculed the poster on another thread who questioned (legitimately) why Ray Lewis was on this site's worst-team-of-the-year. Don't answer the guy directly, no, wait until you've got all your buddies around and then rip into the guy. Pretty puerile stuff.

Remember who pays your bills guys.

by Gold_Star_for_R... :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:00am

Hit 'em in the wallet, BJR. You'll show them!


by Gauss (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:44pm

I agree with BJR. FO's writers have been getting more condescending, and it's made worse by the fact that in a lot of cases I don't even think they're clearly correct. The smug superiority is really offputting to the point I read the site less now than I used to.

It's amazing to me that FO would start the Audibles for the freaking Super Bowl by mocking a reader who questioned a KCW choice.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:53pm

This is Audibles. It is emphatically not a media-conscious, ESPN vetted, edited version of the opinions of its authors. It is the real-time thoughts of people watching football, in all their emailed-without-thinking glory.

Of course they're condescending, they're relatively knowledgeable people watching football. I spent half of the Super Bowl ripping up Phil Simms' braindead analysis of the game, and in particular his inability to diagnose a simple play call and identify the players involved.

No reason they shouldn't rip on anyone they want. A little trash talk in Audibles is quite reasonable.

by Gauss (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 4:37pm

I do like Audibles for the most part--I enjoy the unfiltered nature with actual analysis, and I agree they are knowledgeable. I try to read it every week. I just find some of the attitude to be unpleasant. Your mileage may vary.

I typically like 85% of it and find 15% of it really obnoxious. I feel the same way about Peter King's MMQB, actually, though the "15% obnoxious" piece is for different reasons.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:49am

In defense of my comment that was ridiculed, the Keep Chopping Wood Award identifies "players who did the most to help their team lose games in the year." The Ravens were 8-1 (now 9-1) with Lewis and 5-5 without. I don't think Lewis magically willed his team to victory, or played that well all year. But he didn't do much to help the Ravens lose games since they won all the games he played in (except for a 1 point loss in Philly). By the definition of the award Lewis really shouldn't have been eligible.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:22pm

Nice defense of your position...not that you really needed it after such a childish and barely coherent attack.

The most amazing part is the article leads off with that. It'd be one thing if it had come up in conversation, but it seems clear Gower had been stewing on that, just waiting for Audibles to get going so he could unload with that. He apparently thinks posters will always agree with him?

by patriotsgirl :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:24pm

If it was such an objectionable comment, why didn't Gower address it in the thread itself (like he did other comments in that Scramble)?

Instead, he used Audibles to call a (fairly long-time, if I recall) poster out to a completely different audience that didn't know anything about the context. It comes across as pretty petty.

Edit: oops, repeating what BJR said, basically.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:39pm

Seemed like a fair point to me.
So he's slow and old now, that why he is retiring. WIthout getting caught up in his excessive hype, it seems clear that he brings something to the defense.
Picking him for KCW was myopic at best or some type of grudge at worse.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 4:47pm

Hey jonny. I actually thought about removing that whole part of Audibles because you are correct, criticism of readers doesn't really belong here. And I didn't think there was anything wrong with your criticism of the KCW team. I ended up leaving it in because I liked the joking around about Brett Kern and long-snapper wins.

Sorry if it seemed a bit personal. Probably a mistake on my part.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 6:09pm

Props to you Aaron for apologizing. But shouldn't Tom be the one doing the apologizing?

I hadn't read the original KCW article until seeing this. I expected there to be some long, contentious post. Instead the original post is a couple of sentences and just amounted to "I don't really agree with this because KCW is supposed to be about losing games yet the Ravens win when Lewis plays." It's a logical question and there's absolutely ZERO response to it in that thread from Tom. It baffles me why such a benign post would be brought up in a totally different article.

by jonnyblazin :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 12:43am

Not a problem Aaron! I wasn't that insulted, it didn't seem like Tom actually paid attention the specific point I made. And, after all, no weapon formed against me shall prosper, ha ha...

by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 6:01pm

I get that the counter argument is that the Ravens won despite Lewis, but you had a good point in showing that his inclusion there didn't really fit the KCW descriptions at all, and you didn't deserve a snarky jerk mention by Gower in audibles.

Besides, if we're seriously going to pretend that Lewis isn't like having a second defensive coordinator on the field just so we can send each other snarky e-mails, we've missed the point on a gameplay level as well.

by Jerry :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:41am

I recommend Andy's last post (the last couple paragraphs of the article) for a nice description of the postgame.

by Silm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:08pm

100% agree this is getting really old. I started out a fan of FO because your math analysis is good but these audibles have shown your guys' true colors of just being ref whiners like the rest of America who didnt want the Ravens to win, or any underdog in previous SBs.

Go watch the first quarter. Torrey smith gets held blatantly on numerous plays, including one that looks like an easy TD.

Speaking about the Dickson hold in the end zone, it actually doesnt matter if he holds, because he and they know that it still results in a safety. Same result, same amount of time wiped out. So there's no downside.

SF was poised to get absolutely embarassed but for a bizarre power outage putting them back in ti.

The saddest part of all was Jim Harbaugh complaining in post game conference about the non-call.

Marshall Faulk said it best: The non-call was consistent with how the rest of the game was called. I thought Boger's crew was nothing if not consistent even if I didn't love every call either.

Thats football. Ravens 34, SF 31. You guys are just mad because your higher DVOA team didn't win. Again.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 4:05pm

I enjoy audibles, and I enjoy the guys complaining about stuff. It's like sharing the game with other human beings, and not just with a bunch of math.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Kaelik (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 1:58am

You have one SF fan saying it was one sided, and a bunch of other people saying the officiating was crap, but didn't advantage either team.

The fact that Torrey Smith got held and it should have been called but wasn't is evidence in favor of the position "Refs suck."

by transmetropolitan (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 11:14am

I am stunned that a bunch of guys as smart as this could have such a nit picking discussion of the officiating as apparently the main take away from that game.

The officiating was OK. There is no justification for it to be discussed as a factor in this game to anywhere near the extent it has been. I blame Jim Harbaugh's sideline demeanor.

Third playoff game in a row the Niners spotted an opponent a lead, and this time the indisciplined and sloppy play lasted long enough into the game for them to have dug themselves into a hole they couldn't get out of.

And still had they not wasted 2 of their second half timeouts there might have been time for them to complete their comeback.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 2:58pm

I sure wish someone could convince the 49ers that the first minute of the game is actually the first minute of the 3rd quarter, then after a half hour of play you get a nice break and then quarters 5 & 6. They could do without those first 2.

by zzyzx :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:18am

I don't see the non-call on the 4th down play as being much worse than the non-call on the Falcons' 4th down play two weeks ago. Yes they could have called it in both cases but on a make or break play, you're probably not going to get that, especially when the ball looked uncatchable and the receiver is pushing off.

by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:33am

I basically agree with that. It was probably closer to a foul than the falcons one, but it's not like it got me out of my seat screaming at the TV.

The refs weren't great, but I don't think they were bad either. If someone asked me about the game, it's not like the first thing I'd say would be "the refs were awful."

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:59pm

I'm with you. There are always calls that are questionable. And in a case like this, as a neutral fan it was hard to get that upset given the other circumstances involved: The Niners let themselves fall behind by 22 points in yet another slow start, their playcalling near the goal line was questionable; etc. Had Crabtree been outright tackled, it would have been different. But at some point you just need to win the game by making plays rather than griping that the refs didn't bail you out.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:57pm

The refereeing was questionable more for its effect on the flow of the game than anything. If there isn't a questionable roughing call on Ngata the 49ers' comeback never gets started. And there were more than a few noncalls at the end that should have given the 49ers a chance to actually win, that weren't called.

More than once, it has occurred to me that Super Bowl penalties always seem to be designed to create a close game.

by horn :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:32pm

BUT Crabtree WAS prevented from making a game-winning play on 4th down by the DB who had two hands wrapped around him, holding his jersey for dear life for 7 yds into the end zone.

If you want to call fouls on both players and re-do 4th down, that's also fine.

I think it is hilariously stupid that some fans think the NFL rules apply for 59 minutes, but on the most crucial down in the game, the refs should take a nap.

BTW, I was rooting for the Ravens to win.

by WeaponX (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 11:37am


End of game heroics denied by a beaten defender and a terrible ref crew.

by Tyler (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:28pm

Totally disagree. One was basically right on 5yds from scrimmage, and the WR ran into the LB, who didn't get out of his way, and jammed him. It was close, sure.

The 4th down play in the SB was in the end zone and involved blatant holding and pulling, AND crabtree didn't run into the CB to give him some justification for the pretty blantant "PLEASE DON'T CATCH THIS" interference.

I also totally support Lewis on the KCW team. Even if it's just slightly backlash to the general glorification of him by most people, I'm fine with it.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:22am

Congrats to the Ravens. I was really surprised at how well the Ravens offensive line played all night particularly in pass blocking. The Smiths were a non-factor. Justin Smith seemed to be spinning his wheels most of the time.

Culliver for the Niners was the one most impacted by the lack of pass rush. That poor guy killed San Fran multiple times.

I don't know if SF feels like it has to keep other guys happy or what but I would have been throwing more to Davis who was clearly superior to anyone trying to handle him.

The NFL has clearly chosen a path that features part-time officals who are wildly inconstent in their performance. To not realize that and think that the Super Bowl will somehow be different than all the games played during the regular season is pretty silly.

by steveNC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:30am

>The NFL has clearly chosen a path that features part-time officals who are
>wildly inconstent in their performance. To not realize that and think that
>the Super Bowl will somehow be different than all the games played during
>the regular season is pretty silly.

Expected does not necessarily imply acceptable.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:50am

Again, I think expecting a different result from the framework that the NFL has deemed 'acceptable' is pretty strange. NFL leadership is clearly ok with their officials being haphazard in their performance level week to week. I don't what else can conclude given all the evidence

And in what football world has it been shown that football officiating can be consistently deemed acceptable? Collegiate officiating stinks. High school officiating stinks. The NFL officiating stinks less but still stinks.

Sorry if this is news to anyone

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:10am

Well said. I though the officiating was poor, but not out of line with any other SuperBowl (basically a ton of non-calls mean players were really pushing the limits all game).

Call a few things early, and there isn't so much bordelrine stuff later on. But the refs are clearly told to be hands off.

by Ryan :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:01pm

File this under "Unfounded Claims" but I wonder if Randy Moss put a bug in Kaepernick's ear before the game. Colin was forcing a lot of balls to Moss early when Davis or Crabtree made more sense as targets.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:15pm

"I wonder if Randy Moss put a bug in Kaepernick's ear"

That expression always makes me think of Wrath of Khan. Traumatized me as a kid. I still have an ear thing even now, and I'm pretty sure Wrath of Khan is to blame.

by Lance :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:36pm

I understand you. Though, one thing that always, er, bugged me about that is when they get the bugs out, Kirk uses a phaser to shoot it. I always thought-- Dude, it's a bug. Just step on it. But maybe that's just me.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:39pm

No, I want that thing vaporized. I've stepped on a spider before and then seen it scurry under a couch, no doubt planning its revenge by burrowing into my brain.

by Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:28am

Re: non-calls for DPI -

Has it not been the case since the NE vs. STL SB that there is a completely seperate set of rules governing downfield action in the SB, no matter how closely contact is called in the regular season and playoffs? The 'Otis Smith' rules or something like that?

And, knowing so, shouldn't one's gameplan expect and reflect that?


by Jimmy :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:50am

The officiating was not the best but if the niners want to blame any one particular thing my suggestion would be their tackling in the first half.

I also suspect that the extra week really must help when preparing for an unusual offense.

by Dean :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:50am

I watched the game with the mute botton on and never once thought about the officiating all night - for good or bad.

On the other hand, if you’re a fan of offensive line play, last night’s game was just a joy to watch. Arguably the two best lines in the league. Both defensive fronts are really good as well, yet both OLs won the battle up front. Marshall Yanda in particular really should have won the MVP. He was just kicking peoples asses like they were hippies. If you want to know why Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis had quiet nights, look no further than Yanda and Mike Iupati. If you want to know why both running games were effective and both QBs were very good, look up front. The only one of those men who had a bad game was Bryant McKinnie, who appeared to blow an assignment and got his QB creamed. But even he wasn't awful the rest of the night. All of the misdirection that the 49ers run from the pistol would be impossible if they weren’t getting it done up front. You want to know why both teams scored 30 points? Look at the front walls. Those men earned their money last night.

by BK (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:51am

Ignoring the rest of the ref complaining, it is the height of "whiny fandom" to say that the Flacco late hit was "truly borderline" but he 4th down play was definitely a terrible call. Especially given how QB hits are watched.

by wangdon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:51am

I have no idea whether or not this is actually the case, but this article gives one the impression that you guys are extremely butthurt about the Ravens winning. Nobody comes to this website to hear you list off all of the questionable calls that hurt one team, while completely ignoring the questionable calls that hurt the other team. There are plenty of places we could go on the internet to get that.

by RavensJimbo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:42am

I'm a Ravens homer, so my credibility is nil, but I felt like this was a good posting. I love FO, but what I love about the site is that your analysis provides me additional tools for understanding what happens in a game. What I hate is that you seem to feel like your tools should dictate what happens in a game, and when a game's actual outcome differs from what you believe "should" have happened, you act as if the game is somehow flawed. Your work is descriptive of the NFL, but sometimes you give the impression you feel it should be prescriptive.

So when the Ravens "exposed" the DVOA-poor Colts, it was a great outcome. But in every game since, there's been a lot of butthurt-ness about the Ravens. One Audibles commenter even remarked he wasn't sure the Baltimore-Denver game was a great game - presumably because it featured too much unexpected action and too many shocking big plays. Rather than focus on why the Ravens aren't that good, I'd be interested in seeing how their post-season DVOA stacks up against some of the all-time best. It seems to me it has to be pretty good.

by Ryan :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:02pm

This is intelligent conversation but "butthurt" should be retired immediately.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:12pm

Just generally they seem to not actually understand statistics in the very way they complain about the fans and media not understanding them.

Some game, or even series of games is in their number's eyes 70/30. And then when one of them or a series of them doesn't go their way they get all defensive and preachy sounding. Which is just bizarre coming from people supposedly doing numerical analysis of the outcomes.

We almost know nothing different about the strengths of the two teams than we did before the game. So why act so scandalized about the result?

If I designed a random number generator which gave "even" results 95% of the time and we queried it once and it returned "17", we wouldn't just throw up our hands and start cursing the technique of the person who pressed the button. We would just go "oh"? Lets push it again. Now obviously you cannot run multiple trails in the NFL and that is frustrating. But nothing about that is veer going to change, so you have to reconcile yourself to that fact.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:19pm

In their defense, I'd say the reason they get "defensive and preachy sounding" is because literally every single time an upset happens people jump all over them and act like it proves that everything they ever wrote was completely worthless. I'm sure they know that upsets happen and a massive underdog will still win 30% of the time, but I'd be pretty defensive too if I had to put up with a neverending stream of illiterate morons questioning my competence every time something unexpected happens.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 12:54am

You would think they would expect their site to be a little less hostile environment than that.

by TODD K (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:47pm

This is the best comment/commentary about this wesbsite I've ever read. 100% spot-on.

by bengt (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 11:00am

Let's not forget that the FO almanac predicted the 49ers to be below average and the Ravens, I think, to be serious contenders. If you're right - and I'm not saying that you aren't - one would expect at least a tiny 'told you so' moment.

by PackerPete :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:51am

Complaints about the officiating. Yawn. Double yawn. Mega yawn. That game wasn't reffed any differently than any regular season game during the season. I'd much rather see a non-call in that fourth down situation than the typical reward to the offense for throwing a poor pass to a tightly covered receiver of a first down, and quite often, 40 penalty yards. Ravens came with max blitz up the gut; Kaepernick chucked it up to a covered receiver; ball fell incomplete. No complaints here from this neutral observer.

by ChuckC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:52am

As a 49er fan, that was a tough loss to take. Sure there were a lot of iffy calls but what really bothered me wre the self-inflicted wounds.

1) Several critical penalties: Offsides on a 3rd down stop (twice), the illegal formation penalty on the first drive wiping out a 20 yard gain. PI on another 3rd down. Even with only 5 for 33 yards, it seemed like every penalty was a killer.
2) Time management: 2 wasted timeouts to avoid delay of game penalties. The second one right at the end of the game was almost understandable but the first was terrible. When you're down multiple scores in the second half, you don't trade a timeout for 5 yards on 1st down. And Kaepernick is still terrible at getting plays off in a timely manner. I do wonder how much is the coaches fault though because Alex Smith had a lot of problems with that too.
3) Chris Culliver and Donte Whitner: Terrible game for both of them. Was it just me or were 90% of the Ravens passes to the offensive right side? Rogers played decent to good and the only time I remember hearing Tarell Brown's name is when he forced the fumble so I assume he did well in coverage overall.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:58am

I have not seen a lot of San Fran games so was this just Culliver's worst game in forever or is he the weakest link in the chain that got exposed because the San Fran pass rush couldn't press Flacco regularly?

Because boy was that guy bad last night

by ChuckC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:11am

There's a reason he doesn't start. But this was clearly his worst game. He played much better against Atlanta and Green bay.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:16am

Games where the SF pass rush was far more evident.

by Dean :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:36am

Culliver was bad, but it seemed to me like Whitner was even worse. Flacco's pre-snap read in the first half was "find #31 and throw there."

They made some adjustments at halftime and got him some help, at which point it seemed that Culliver became the second half target.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:44pm

On that bomb before halftime, Whitner's decision to chase the short route seemed downright bizarre. If that's his responsibility it's bad coaching
Either the weaknesses in the secondary have been hidden till now by a better pass rush (i.e. healthy Justin Smith) or more mediocre competition. This area must be improved.
They couldn't even tackle, the one thing they are clearly good at most of the time.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:14pm

Well, given what we know about him after his comments earlier in the week, maybe Culliver was just scared to get too close to another man. He certainly had no interest in touching Baltimore's receivers.

by zenbitz :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:10pm

His boyfriend dumped him.

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:56am

"The intentional safety included a fantastic Ed Dickson-on-Anthony Dixon hold in the end zone."

This was a BRILLIANT strategic move. The entire offense was blatantly holding, and I'm sure it was by design in hindsight. By holding, they generate more time for the punter to burn before stepping out of bounds and taking the safety. The defense can't possibly accept the holding penalty, even if it was called, because that would allow Baltimore to snap the ball again with only 4 seconds left on the clock, which would end the game. Someone on Baltimore's coaching staff is a GENIUS.

by wangdon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:18am

Glad to see someone else noticed. At the time I thought it was obvious, but apparently not. Pretty amusing to see a whiny 49ers fan complaining about a penalty that the 49ers would have had to decline even if it had been called. I love watching the replay of every single Raven just holding the hell out of every 49er.

by jdawga (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:40am

Wouldn't the holding in the end zone have been a safety, which they would accept? Still a smart move to hold when worst case is that penalty gives a safety, avoid any chance of fumble and recovery for TD.

After the safety, surprised Ginn didn't just fair catch and try a play from scrimmage with laterals, etc. But not surprised they didn't fair catch and have Akers try something like a 75 yard free kick. It was cute of Nantz and Simms to show they know that rule, but stupid they didn't discuss how absurd it would be for 49ers to try a free kick from that far.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:39am

To be fair to Nantz and Simms I thought they were explaining why a squib kick would have been an extraordinarily dumb thing to do without letting the audience know that was their intention.

by Dean :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:44am

Except that the squib kick would be a GOOD thing. You can't take the free kick unless you call for fair catch.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:58am

I've seen an onside kick fair caught. If the Ravens had let the Niners do that it would have gone to overtime.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:06pm

A lower tier punt from scrimmage goes 40 yards, which is really 55 air yards. A bad free kick would have been to the 25 yard line. You think an 85 yard field goal is the way to go? Say it was a horrible punt and only made it to the 45 yard line. You think Harbaugh would take a 65 yard Aker's field goal or a Hail Mary?

by Dean :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:44pm

The punter takes two steps before he punts. So a 40 yard punt actually travels 50 yards from his foot, not 55. But that's semantics. Either way, no, I don't think that you take the free kick there. But there is a SLIGHT chance of a return for a TD and you can minimize the odds of that by squibbing it. Most squibs seem to get fielded by the up back somewhere between the 20 and the 25. That puts the ball around midfield, but it's no longer a free kick. Now Akers has to worry about it being blocked - he can't just line drive it. So at that point, I'm calling the Hail Mary and not bothering with the kick.

by Purds :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:46am

I agree with the basic premise of these points, but the 49ers wouldn't have to decline the holding, as holding in the end zone results in a safety. Small point, but makes the 49 fan complaint a little less whiny.

by wangdon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:56am

Only one or two of the Baltimore players were in the end zone for most of the play. Dickson certainly was, but I'm not sure who else. I guess it would have then depended on who they called the holding on. If they called it on everybody who was guilty, the 49ers could accept the one on Dickson and get the safety I suppose, but that would have no impact, as they already got the safety from the result of the play.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:46pm

exactly. It's not like basketball where the clock stops on a penalty. Brilliant coaching and a complete non-issue
Except it does expose how the refs had basically decided to not call ANYTHING

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:57am

They wouldn't have declined the penalty. Holding in the end zone results in a safety, so the result of the play would have been identical.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:22pm

I think the point being made was that the reffing was so bad that Baltimore couldn't even get penalized on a play where they were trying to commit a penalty.

by Flounder :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:30am

"that would allow Baltimore to snap the ball again with only 4 seconds left on the clock, which would end the game."

This is not correct as a hold in the end zone is a safety. Given the result of the play was a safety anyways, I'm not sure what the result would have been had the flag been thrown. Enforced on the free kick so you're punting from the 10?

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:00am

If the holding starts at the 5, and continues into the end zone, what would the call be? What if the ref threw the flag at the sight of the initial hold before it went into the end zone? Does that matter?

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:19pm

Well, assuming the end result of the play hadn't been a safety, if holding was flagged outside the end zone, it would have been half the distance to the goal and replay of the down. But the time spent on the holding play wouldn't have been put back on the clock, which would have been key. The Niners weren't going to accept any penalties because they needed to preserve time. The Ravens could have run out the clock on the replaying of the down, even if the Niners could have declined the safety.

by zzyzx :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:30am

The complaint is - and I even heard the non-football player Mike on Mike and Mike this morning make it - that somehow the play should have been blown dead due to the holding calls and/or time added on to the scoreboard because of that.

You know, because that's how every other holding play in every game is handled.

by Jeremy Billones :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:02am

Holding in the end zone is a safety, so enforcing the penalty is the same as declining it.

by Lindsay Askew (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:13pm

I also noted this. The offensive holding on that intentional safety was just too blatant and numerous not to be by design. Absolute genius.
What could SanFran do? Unlike some sports, the NFL doesn't put time back on the clock after penalties....so if the holdings HAD been called Baltimore simply would have replayed the down and ran out the clock. I think the Refs actually recognized this as well, thus letting the holds go. The competition committee is almost definatt going to address this loophole in the offseason.

by Dean :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:45pm

If holding had been called and the refs determined it to be deliberate, they could invoke the patently unfair act clause and take whatever action they deem appropirate, including putting time back on the clock.

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:57pm

You expect Jerome "Ladies Man" Boger to call the only penalty to never be called in an NFL game before, do it in the Super Bowl, and do it in the final 10 seconds of the game? REALLY!?

by Dean :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:12pm

I don't EXPECT anything. All I did was clarify that the rules do allow him some pretty broad latitude in that situation. I don't actually care one way or another.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:26pm

I think Chase Stewart had a post about Buddy Ryan having an intentional safety play which involved having 13 men on the LOS to ensure the punter could run around for 8-9 seconds before taking the safety. The theory was the same - it's a no-lose situation for the offense since the objective is to bleed clock while taking the safety.

ETA: Yup, here it is - the Polish punt team.

Having just watched his Vikings lose, 10-9, Lynn was rankled by the sight of what the Eagles called their “Polish punt team.” In a most unusual formation, designed to prevent a blocked kick or a long runback, Ryan sent 14 men onto the field for a crucial last-minute punt. At the worst, the expected penalty for too many men on the field would set the Eagles back 5 yards but drain precious seconds from the clock.

by DenverCheeze (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:05pm

I have to agree on this also...the FO staff not realizing that even if the DID call holding it would not change the result is sad. This was absolute GENIUS on the part of Ravens coaching...if they actually did coach it up that way.

by jrb320 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:08am

i'm shocked you guys are making such a big deal of the officiating. it was no worse than any other nfl game. some missed calls, sure, but that happens every week in this league. refs miss spots and holding calls. they miss high/lows and ineligible lineman downfield...as well as roughing/running into the kicker penalties. it happens. every week. yesterday was par for the course. to mention it in the same breath as seattle/pittsburgh is ridiculous.

by bengt (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 11:30am

I agree that the refereeing does not compare to SB XL. It was by far worse.
There was only one call in SB XL that was unquestionably wrong, and it resulted in a 15 yards penalty. On Sunday you had at least three such plays, and each one had significant impact on the result of the game:
- a player beating an opponent and pushing a referee without getting sent off. AFAIR that player later tipped away a potential touchdown catch. And you need not go further back than the AFCCG to see what can happen to a team that loses its #1 cornerback.
- Holding on the kickoff return TD. Yes, something like that happens a lot, but really, *that obvious*?
- The hit on the third down pass at the end was textbook spearing. No need to consider whether the receiver was still defenseless after taking two steps, there's only one right call: Ravens #22 (yes, the one who was involved in the upcoming fourth down play) is ejected, first and goal 49ers on the 2.

by Waterloo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:25am

I thought that San Francisco's time management at the end of the game was terrible. Someone criticized Baltimore for not calling time-out before the 2 minute warning, but I actually think that San Fran made the mistake in not running a play before the 2 minute warning.

Once it got to the end game, it was clear that San Fran was NOT going to be able to score with almost no time on the clock. The best case for San Fran was Baltimore getting the ball back with 1:40 or so and 1 timeout, which is more than enough time for Baltimore to score a FG (and even a TD). Instead, they needed to be more concerned about maintaining plan B should they not score the TD. Had San Fran tried to score before the 2-minute warning, they could have had 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning when they turned the ball over on downs, giving themselves plenty of time to score.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:40pm

Yes. Their time management at the end of the first half was also really bad. It was just like the Patriots at the end of the first half a couple weeks ago.

But you're absolutely right---teams seem to get so worried about what the other team will do next that they fail to complete the first mission of simply scoring the points. Same with the Falcons last week.

by Anonymous37 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:26am

Not a fan of either team, and while I don't think the refs did a great job or anything - they seemed to let things get overly chippy - Danny really comes across as a whiner in these Audibles. I know his team lost, but come on, I don't think most neutral people watching that game reached the conclusion the refs were out to get the 49ers.

And of all the jokes about the power outage I've heard, my favorite was "Don't act like you've never blacked out in New Orleans before..."

by Purds :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:52am

I'm not going to blame Danny. Remember, these are comments made in the moment, and it sucks when your team is losing.

But, I will say I think the refs were terrible at handling the game. It was chippy from the start, and the refs did nothing to control the hits after the whistle, the grabs, etc. I don't know that the refs helped either team, but certainly either defense when it wanted to act like a bully was allowed to do so. I think Baltimore did this early, and SF did it after they figured out the refs wouldn't call anything. I find that type of playing incredibly boorish, but as long as neither team benefited more from it, I can live with it.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:53am


by Paul R :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:17am

>And of all the jokes about the power outage I've heard, my favorite was "Don't act like you've never blacked out in New Orleans before..."

That's a good one! A friend of mine posted: "Ha! Now it's rich people trapped in the Superdome without power."

by Dean :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:45am

I liked the one about how the power went out in New Orleans so it somehow must be George Bush's fault.

by James-London :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:29am

Congrats to all the Ravens Fans on FO, commiserations to the 49ers.
Turned into a pretty good game for the neutral in the end, much more so than at half time.

That's the first 49ers Games I've seen this year- Is Culliver always that bad, and does Kaepernick have a persistent problem getting the play off in time?

FWIW I thought the officials were mediocre, and the worst call the blew was not tossing Williams for putting hands on an official-can't understand how that's not enforced

Glad Ray Lewis went out with another ring, but it's a good job he's hanging them up. He's done-Vernon Davis flat-out embarrassed him. Nice to see Matt Birk & Ed Reed get a ring.

Phil Simms still makes my teeth itch...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:03am

not tossing Williams for putting hands on an official-can't understand how that's not enforced

It wasn't enforced because they didn't want to eject anybody in the Super Bowl. Most blatant example of leniency because it's the championship game since Nigel de Jong wasn't sent off for his kung fu kick on Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup Final.

by ChuckC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:20am

Yes Kaepernick frequently has trouble getting the play off. Guaranteed to waste at least one timeout per game. It was also a problem with Alex Smith. I don't know who to blame because it was even a problem back before Harbaugh was hired. Singletary and Jimmy Raye tended to get the blame at the time. Now I don't know where the problem is.

by bird jam :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:34am

"Danny Tuccitto: C'mon, Mike. When the game is on Game Rewind, I'd be happy to post screencaps of every joke of a non-call against the 49ers. There's Ayanbadejo's uncalled hold on Miller during Jones' kickoff return touchdown. There's the joke of a spot on Boldin's third-down catch near the end that ultimately got overturned. There's the holding at the end that will go down in Super Bowl lore. There's the hold on Graham when he was beat by two yards. There's Brown destroying Akers, and it's called running into the kicker instead of roughing. I mean, this was an abomination of officiating that eclipses every previous abomination I've almost certainly exaggerated in Audibles previously."

Have to disagree about "Brown destroying Akers" - my memory of the replay was that there was minimal contact and a great acting job by Akers. I had no problem at all with calling running into instead of roughing there.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:32am

I really would like to take that discretion away from the Zebras; it just adds more randomness, and not of the good kind. Touch the kicker, and the kicking team gets a first down, seems, to me, like a preferred from of clarity.

by zzyzx :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:36am

Then we'd never see another blocked kick again. Where would be the fun in that?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:42am

Correction. Touch the kicker, without touching the ball, and the kicking tems gets a first down. In other words, the old rule, when there were still plenty of kicks being blocked.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:24pm

The only problem I have with that is it greatly encourages flopping. I like the way it is now because :

-- The "running into" not being an automatic first down does a little to discourage flops by the kickers
-- The "roughing" penalty discourages dangerous plays from the defenders

Making it always a first down or always just 5 yards (not that you suggested that) would take away one of those items.

Of course, if it's 4th and less than five, punters are likely to flop anyway - and if there was a way to penalize the punters for those, I'd be all for it.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:38pm

I'd be fine with an ejection for a flop, along with a 1 game suspension, subject to video review. I really dislike giving referees discretion as to the nature of the contact. Don't touch the kicker, if you don't touch the ball.

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:44pm

I still think this would lead to the end of punt blocks because the risk would be too great to make it worthwhile to attempt it.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:48pm

Why would you think this, given that this was the rule for many years, and there were plenty of punts blocked?

by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:38pm

Oops. Missed that post above and forgot the rule. You're right.

by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:45pm

He actually didn't touch him at all. It was a hell of a sell-job by Akers.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:06pm

Yeah, I only saw one replay angle, and I couldn't tell.

by Bjorn Nittmo :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:53pm

Seems pretty clear to me that Akers didn't get touched. I don't begrudge Danny's bitching about the refs, but 49ers got a gift 3 points from this penalty and very clearly should have been flagged for the out-of-bounds late hit on Flacco, which would have extended that drive and possibly tacked on 4 points to Baltimore. This is not to say that the 49ers "won" on net calls for the night, but definitely no cause to blame the refs for the 49ers losing.

by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 8:18pm

After seeing the replays on NFL live, I'm 100% sure Brown never touched him.

by Subrata Sircar :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 3:06am

My immediate reaction was "Akers is clearly a veteran kicker". My friend said something to the effect of "Akers justifies Harbaugh's faith in him with that veteran acting job".

by Sakic (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:37am

Proof positive that Phil Simms is the "Captain Obvious" of all color commentators with his "insight" regarding how he felt that the 49ers were going to go for two when they scored their final touchdown. Great insight, Phil, my girlfriend who watches about 2 quarters of football per year knew that they were going for two.

All in all it was a pretty entertaining game. Way too much complaining about the officials, though. I know 49er fans think PI should've been called on the final pass to Crabtree but he was pushing off as well so it was a good no call in my opinion. Everybody knows that PI doesn't get called unless it's blatant in that situation (and sometimes even if it IS blatant...Packer fans are looking at you Golden Tate.)

by Bjorn Nittmo :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 3:31pm

I'll note that Jim Harbaugh didn't seem nearly as righteously incensed about the referees not throwing the flag 2 weeks earlier when it was the Atlanta receiver getting held by a 49er linebacker on the Falcons' final failed 4th down pass. Not identical plays of course, but quite similar, with a level of contact/holding close enough to within 5 yards of the L.O.S. that the norm is not to call holding.

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 4:25pm

The ATL play was within five yards. And the linebacker at least made some attempt to go for the ball rather than just tackling the receiver without even looking for the ball.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:39am

(For the record, I wasn't pulling for either team - if anything, I was shading towards the Niners at the beginning. I live in the Baltimore/Washington area, so I now get to hear about the awesomeness of the Lewis Retirement Magic Power for a year.)

I actually thought they called the PI/Holding pretty consistently. Wrongly, but consistently the same way for whole game. It appears we're back to the pre-Polian playoff era where DBs are allowed to mug the receivers, since I saw similar examples in both Conference Championships. Both sides took advantage of it, and then the receivers started pushing off when they realized the refs weren't going to call PI - and they didn't call the pushoffs, eitherm so it was at least somewhat even. The only PI I remember was SO blatant they had to call it - almost as blatant as Akers' flop.

I thought Baltimore did most of what they had to do. The game plan was clearly to stop the run and make the inexperienced QB beat them, and it mostly worked. Kaepernick did some flashy stuff, but made some iffy throws (and a couple of REALLY bad ones), and generally didn't do enough to win the game.

by akn :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:57am

C'mon, Mike. When the game is on Game Rewind, I'd be happy to post screencaps of every joke of a non-call against the 49ers. ... There's Brown destroying Akers, and it's called running into the kicker instead of roughing. I mean, this was an abomination of officiating that eclipses every previous abomination I've almost certainly exaggerated in Audibles previously.


See, to me, the hit on Flacco was a true borderline call that can go either way. He was hit in the chest outside the pocket at the very edge of the field. Some refs might call that, some might not. That's a far cry from the calls I listed, where it seemed like a scenario right out of an offiiating exam.

I normally allow homerish ranting about officiating in a non-Chicago game to wash over me without comment, but come on, Tuccitto, claiming to have video evidence before even reviewing the tape is taking it too far, especially when you're paid to be a football "expert." Akers flopped on the running into the kicker, and Flacco was clearly hit excessively out of bounds, and I make those claims after actually reviewing them on my DVR.

The game had bad calls, but those calls went both ways, to a roughly similar extent. I don't really expect anything more from an NFL-officiated game.

From a Bears fan, neutral observer, etc.

by mrh :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 10:58am

If I have to read another "Boy, that throw shows Flacco is elite!" tweet on the Twitter, I am going to hurt someone

No one HAS to read any tweets.

Most of what gets said on Twitter is like pre-game shows or ESPN message boards. I just ignore all of it and am no worse off in my life. I spend time on these boards but really could say the same even if the level of discussion is higher here.

I get the attraction but unless you have to know instantly that something has happened reading Twitter is like listening to police radio. Anything important will get reported on later and you'll avoid a lot of static.

by akn :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:09am

Agreed, Twitter is the new mob, and someone who claims to be affected by anonymous mob ranting is simply trying to claim they are above it all while actually just contributing to it.

That said, if I have to read another "Twitter sucks" comment, I am going to hurt someone.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:38am

If I have a read another "No Direction is the best band evar!" tweet on Twitter I am going to hurt someone.


by willisisgod (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:00am

People need to re-watch the game and check out the Jacoby Jones return. The worst most impactful holding call miss I have ever seen. Doesn't matter though. 49ers made a ton of mistakes and now have more motivation than they needed for next year. Pretty impressive win by Bmore they beat a better team that outgained them by 100 yds always next year. The fact that Kaep is this good after 10games is pretty awesome. Anyone trying to draw conclusions about a guy through 10 games about his anticipation and ability to throw guys open is an idiot that is learned skill. Time to get ready for next year

by Paul R :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:14am

If NFL games were officiated by supercomputers that could analyze every play in real time from 250 different camera angles, there would still be missed calls. There would still be complaints about players and coaches taking unfair advantage of loopholes in the system.
I'm perfectly happy to have a game played by fallible humans and officiated by fallible humans who are all doing the best they can. Bad calls are just a factor like bad weather and bad bounces on fumbles. Shit happens.

Besides, nobody noticed that Jerome Boger got the coin toss wrong? Baltimore won the toss and elected to defer. Boger announced, "San Francisco has won the toss and will receive." That should have told you what kind of game it was going to be.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:40am

If NFL games were officiated by supercomputers that could analyze every play in real time from 250 different camera angles, there would still be missed calls.

Bring on the Culture!

by Iain Banks' exact duplicate (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:50am

Yes! Then Ray Lewis could gland as much deer-antler spray as he wanted, and nobody would ever know...

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:24am

I had too much socializing responsibility to watch the game as closely as I normally like, but my impression, like that which was mentioned above, is that both o-lines had outstanding games. Flacco and Boldin increased their earnings in their next contracts substantially. Koepernick looked like a very good qb who has started less than season's worth of games. The Niners lost the turnover contest decisively, gave up a 109 yard kickoff return, and still were a few yards away from taking the lead in the closing moments of the game. I think the play they didn't get off on 3rd down would have scored, although I have not watched it again.

Officiating appears so random in so many contests that, absent someone taking the time to use rewind to grade out officials in every contest, and sell it to the public (is there a market for this?), I just don't know what to make of it. I generally agree that the zebras were giving wide latitude in the interaction between receivers and dbs, except when they weren't, like when a pretty marginal call was made on the Niners. How often are obvious holds on return tds missed? I have no idea, but I wish I did.

It was a very close game, where any number of random events, or at least non-predictive events, if they are changed, would have reversed the outcome. The fact that a team with a lot more regular season losses (or much lower DVOA) won, is more indicative, I think, that these teams in the playoffs were substantially different from these teams in the regular season. How often have we seen a playoff team with 3 new starters on the o-line, from who started at those positions in the regular season? Justin Smith, the most important player for the Niners defense, or perhaps their whole team, became a different player when he tore his triceps in December. Injured players, who are still on the field, but not playing with nearly as much physical ability, is a big, but poorly understood, factor in elite athletic competition.

Happy to see Matt Birk get ultimate success, and unlike Ray Lewis, he appears to have substantial gas in the tank. It'll be interesting to see if keeps playing.

Didn't know the NFL had hired Clark Griswold to manage the electrical systems for the Super Bowl. Brilliant!

by RickD :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:35am

I don't know if the power outage helped the 49ers grab the mythical "momentum", but it did give them a 34-minute timeout that the coaches could use to figure out what was going wrong, esp. with their offense. It's clear that the offense was much better after the delay. Can we note that the extra time helped SF without needing to buy into "momentum"??

Of course, the oldsters on the Ravens' defense were quite happy for the resting time. They had time for the buffet at Sizzlers.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:42pm

Except it wasn't really the Niners offense that got better, it was their defense.

It was the turnovers in the first half that killed them on offense they had drives of
3 for -2 punt (awful start to the game and that penalty on the first play was DUMB)
12 for 62 FG
5 for 55 Fumble (a bad decision by Kaep and the running back)
1 for 0 Int (another bad decision by Kaep)
8 for 71 FG

That isn't an offense that is really struggling, that is an offense that was moving the ball mostly at will, though failing to punch it in, and turning it over a couple of times on plays that were mostly the fault of the young quarterback. As I was watching the game it wasn't the Niners offense I was worried about, I figured they would get a few more scores in, they just had to figure out a way to stop Baltimore.

In the first half they gave up:
6 for 51 TD
9 for 36 Punt
10 for 75 TD
9 for 32 Downs
3 for 56 Touchdown

After half time (and the black out) they gave up
4 for 24 Punt
3 for -8 Punt
2 for 4 Fumble
12 for 71 FG
10 for 59 FG
4 for -5 Safety (probably shouldn't count Baltimore wasn't really trying to move the ball just run the clock)

So they got the stops they needed, and held a few times for FG. The offense looked pretty much the same to me after half, they just kept the ball and executed better to get the TD instead of the FG. The defense look better, though it still got burned a few times.

by Drunken Benson (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 5:54pm

Right. While I usually disdain "momentum" nonsense, I would argue that the delay definitely hurt the Ravens. The Ravens had just gone up 22 points. It's the Super Bowl. You're not human if you don't pause to reflect on this during a half-hour delay: WE'RE GOING TO WIN...THIS IS AWESOME...I CAN'T WAIT TO PARTY...I WONDER IF BEYOUNCE IS STILL IN THE BUILDING...the mind is bound to wander and the intensity is likely to wane.

by DGKNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:44am

Danny is correct...the SB came down to one play. The missed holding call was basically binary with expected win percentage...SF probably 85% chance to win with the call and 98% to lose without it.

It was greco roman style hand pulling the jersey 7 yards down the field by Jimmy Smith. Non debatable. This wasn't hand fighting or anything like that. Blatant missed call (they called the SF corner for less a few minutes early) that DECIDED the SB. Anyone who argues otherwise is lost or dishonest (Mike Pereira who protects the institution).

Horrific analysis by Tom & Mike. They don't seem to get the point above.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:47am

You seem pretty set in your perspective but maybe this 'one play' doesn't even happen if the 49ers don't fall 22 points behind thanks to getting completely outplayed for the first 35 minutes of the game.

So there's that.

by DGKNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:55am

Literally at that moment in the game the call determined the winner of the SB. They got it dead wrong...anyone who says it was 50/50 or who goes by the old school dogma that "you swallow the whistle" isn't being honest. I had no dog in fight (disgruntled Chargers fan), but this should be the lead story.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:00pm

Well, long-time football fan and while I accept that your perspective is one held by many I don't agree. I didn't see anything there was screamed it was an 'obvious' call.

And as a Packer fan I get to see Sam Shields called for dpi when he's being thrown to the ground by the receiver.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:57am

This has been my perspective for years. Yes, in the heat of the moment, I get frustrated by refereeing decisions, but if you don't want to risk the game being decided by a refereeing decision, play better.

Failure to tackle Jacoby Jones (hurdling him instead of touching him down, seriously?) a bad fumble, a bad interception, and failure to cover Anquan Boldin all had more to do with the 49ers' loss than any refereeing decision.

by DGKNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:01pm

But...given all those things they got to that one moment in time where a correct call changes football history. This is a huge deal....at the highest leverage moment the refs blew a call badly. Most teams can't overcome a 6 point officiating error in a razor tight league where points spreads are averaged at 3.5.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:11pm

But...given all those things they got to that one moment in time where a correct call changes football history.

No, it doesn't. It gives San Francisco first and goal at the one, needing both to score a touchdown themselves and to prevent Baltimore driving for a field goal afterward. It may have led to a different outcome, but that wasn't guaranteed against a Baltimore defense which had stopped the 49ers on three plays immediately before.

Most teams can't overcome a 6 point officiating error in a razor tight league

Most teams can't overcome a 22 point deficit caused by them playing poorly throughout the first half of the biggest game of the season. If they hadn't played that poorly in the first half, they'd certainly have had a much better chance of not relying on a refereeing decision to keep them in the game.

by DGKNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:25pm

It isn't rocket science to estimate win probability if they get that call correct. 1st and goal on the one there. Interested to see the in game math, but probably something like 75-80% SF if they call the obvious holding and 99% Baltimore if they don't. Of course other things can happen, but I doubt there is a higher leverage call in the history of the SB.

The fact that they missed other ones in game is BS. At this most vital moment they blew an obvious call. Crabtree had no chance to get into the designed play because he was manhandled with a fist full of jersey.

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:07pm

It's not BS that they missed other ones in game. They missed a blatant hold on the TE on Baltimore's 3rd and 1 at the 1 before a FG (LB is grabbing him and turning him by the waist).

The game was called consistently. Poorly, but consistently.

by SandyRiver :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 6:04pm

So it gets called and the 49ers get the FD on the 1 (or 2.5 if holding). Maybe they score immediately (or the Ravens allow them to, like in last yr SB). Then the Ravens have about 1:35 and 3 TO to get within range of a tying or winning FG (depending on whether the 49ers get the 2-pt). Not sure that's 75-80% for SF at that point, but I don't know the math either.

by zzyzx :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:47pm

" It gives San Francisco first and goal at the one,"

2 and 1/2 or so. It would have been holding, not PI, so half the distance to the goal.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:34pm

Defensive holding, like illegal contact, is an automatic first down.

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:38pm

He wasn't disputing the first down, only the location of the next snap. He says it would be at the 2.5 yard line instead of the 1 yard line.

by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:50pm

I actually thought it was a good non-call, since the ball was completely and utterly uncatchable anyway. We can debate the contact--both guys maintained it beyond five yards, Crabtree used an illegal hands-to-the-face to get away from an illegal uniform grab--but as someone who'd really like to see the return of "uncatchable ball" wiping out DPI-holding calls, I agreed with this one.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:17pm

If they haven't been calling that all day (and they weren't), then calling it then would be the problem.

Yes, it's a problem that it wasn't called all day, but complaining about the final noncall is inappropriate.

by bengt (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 11:57am

You are right, of course, but consider the case that San Francisco had won: Then you could just as easily find situations where the Ravens could have played better in order not to risk the game being decided by a refereeing decision - McKinnie's blown block, the fake FG, Ray Lewis not even touching Frank Gore who is passing by within breathing distance...

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 12:45pm

In which case I'd say the exact same about the Ravens. Don't want to risk the referees deciding the game? Play better so they don't have the chance to. It wasn't the referees who gave up 19 points of their 22-point lead.

by bengt (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 9:24am

My point is that this invalidates the 'Just play better' argument.
It is perfectly valid to assume that the 49ers and the Ravens both tried to play better in order not to risk the referees deciding the game, with the result being that the referees played a role nevertheless.

by bengt (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 9:29am

I just rewatched: it was Terrell S.(*), not Ray Lewis, who let Frank Gore run right by him. Fifth to last offensive play by the 49ers.
(*)Let's try to fool the spam filter...

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:04pm

I tend to think it should have been called, but, believe it or not, I'll take Cris Carter's opinion on the matter over your opinion, and I doubt that he is either lost or dishonest. I just heard him say that Crabtree ran a poor route, which greatly decreased the odds of the penalty being called.

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:08pm

I just heard that on replay and I think that's the dumbest commentary you can make (not yours, Carter's)

The ref isn't a WR coach, he's a ref and he's not qualified, nor should it matter, how bad the route is.

Does the DB have a fistful of jersey and is he preventing the player from making his break? Without a doubt he is...that's defensive holding.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:19pm

Look, the guy has more knowledge and experience about how the interaction between receivers and dbs is refereed than you and I can imagine having. We have practically zero knowledge of route running, compared to him. It is really unfortunate that you would describe his description of how these things are normally called, and how the players affect the referee behavior, as "dumb".

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:26pm

So here is what I would ask Carter directly if given the chance (after I congratulated him on his well-deserved HOF nod):

"If you were the WR and the DB was playing you that way, would you have wanted and expected the call?"

You're a Vikes fan...what do you think his HONEST answer would be?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:32pm

I have no idea. I was simply saying that I think he was providing valuable insight, from a perspective of extreme expertise, which I thought was the opposite of "dumb".

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:52pm

You bring up an interesting point, because Michael Crabtree was the WR, and he didn't seem to expect a call. He didn't complain to the ref, mime a 'throw-the-flag' moment. I'm surprised that he didn't just based on how much NFL players complain to the ref, but Crabtree definitely did not act like he thought he was interfered with.

by tgt2 (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:20pm

I think you missed the point. Since Crabtree ran into Smith, the ref wasn't as clear on the play as he would have been had Crabtree ran a better route.

Carter didn't make a "that shouldn't be called because of the bad route" argument.

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:27pm

Good clarification...I think you are 100% correct.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:35pm

Just like most Superbowls they called the game consistently, consistently hands off. You can't expect them to throw a flag their when they had been keeping that same flag in their pocket all night.

by MJK :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 12:04am

Here's the problem with the whole "one play" argument. Because of the high impact of the PI penalty, and the high relative value of a TD, many, many games will come down to "one play". Any time a team is within a TD near the end of the game, they will likely heave at least one desparation ball into the endzone. Hail mary attempts happen very frequently. And on any such play where the ball falls to the ground (or is intercepted), a ref can basically flip the win percentage from 100% in favor of the defending team to 95% in favor of the passing team, just by throwing a flag. Does that mean that every one of those games came down to "one play"? Technically, yes. Also, any game where the losing team loses by less than 7 points also came down to "one play"...any kickoff or punt return, or any pick-6 thrown by the other QB, could have flipped the winning percentages by almost 200% in just one play.

by Independent George :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:48am

I'm generally loathe to criticize individual writers, but Danny Tuccitto is really coming across as a whiny homer here. I know this was all written in real time, when emotions were running high, but I don't ever remember Tanier being this egregious.

I had no skin in this game, and there were several missed calls (Ed Reed offsides on the 2-point conversion immediately comes to mind), but they did not overwhelmingly favor the Niners, nor did they have a massive impact on the game.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:14pm

Agreed that Tuccitto comes across as a sour grapes whiner. But what to make of Gower leading off the article whining about what some poster had said about an unrelated article? (Because posters are going to agree with you 100% of the time?) What a thin-skinned baby.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:57pm

Gower is usually fair. I understand Danny's frustration, but honestly, if this had been the patriots and aaron had written all of the things in audibles that Danny has written, these threads would've exploded.

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:58am

Four comments about the officiating.

1. The officiating difference between the Playoffs and the Regular Season has become an issue again. They didn't call ANYTHING in the playoffs this year and IMO Baltimore did the best job taking advantage of this...but this kind of monumental gap shouldn't happen and it needs to be addressed.

2. The holds on the Jones return (there were two at the point of the play) were ABSOLUTELY the reason that kickoff was returned for a TD...and it was ridiculous they were missed. Which of course isn't correct, they weren't missed as they both were so obvious and at the point of the play a HS ref could have called them...they were just not called (see point #1)

3. If the refs were going to "let them play" then the PI on Culliver on 3 and 9 in the 4th quarter was a terrible, drive extending call on SF. Was that PI? Of course it was, but so were 3 or 4 other calls that they didn't make against BAL. You have to call it both ways and that's the call that stood out most in my mind that impacted the game the greatest (next to the TD return).

4. Overall, I don't think the refs were as bad as most...I'd judge them "marginally average" with likely 3-4 "dings" against the whole crew, but IMO what makes them worse is that virtually every ding was a call or non-call that benefited the Ravens. Was it some massive conspiracy? Of course not...but it's some really bad luck for the 49ers. You take away the Culliver PI, the Jones TD return, the missed facemask, which led to the fumble...and it's likely a different team wins this game.

/Not a fan of either team

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:11pm

I agree that the most egregious element of how the interaction between receivers and dbs was called was the penalty on Culliver in the fourth quarter. You simply can't make that call, given how the you have swallowed the whistle elsewhere. This is a prime example of a really, really, bad form of randomness affecting the outcome. I just don't know how unusual it is.

by bengt (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 12:10pm

I have no problem accepting that this specific incident went over the line, whatever that line was. It was just too obvious for the refs to pretend that they did not see it clearly enough or not at all. And I do not remember any PI non-call that was more egregious.
Since so many people mention it, I would compare the Culliver PI to the Chris Hope push off non-TD in SB XL.

by Rick S (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:14pm

Well said.... Baltimore benefitted from defensive non-calls throughout the playoffs, especially against Denver and SF.

by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:51pm

So did every other team. The Ravens just happened to be the ones that won it all.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:06pm

Guys, try to do audibles sober next time. Because this was an embarrassment. Griping about the refs like some drunk dude at the bar? Starting out the article by going after a poster? (Don't you get that all that accomplishes is legitimizing the poster and making yourselves look thin-skinned?) Honestly, audibles are never great. But this one was horrible.

by jds :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:26pm

I kinda like this format. This is the ranting drunk fanboy stuff that I want from Audibles. The immediate reaction stuff, not glossed over and sanitized for the official articles. And when somebody goes over the line you can call him on it. I think I can guarantee the phrase "There's Brown destroying Akers" is going to have to be retracted once the play is viewed again, but it kind of gives a nice perspective on a true fans perception (and how it can be affected by your fandom).

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:50pm

Agreed there is some real entertainment value...just not in the way I'd think they would want. Really, it's a good example of the problems they face at this site. The original intent of Outsiders was to be something totally different, centered around their innovative statistics that didn't take sides and weren't driven by the fanboy instincts that govern so many other sites. Then, they expanded into territory where it's totally like all the other sites, only they still need to write articles where they can convince the audience they're making unbiased arguments. And that is awfully hard to do after examples like this.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:32pm

I think you are being unfair to Danny. When he writes articles it is pretty hard to discern any bias from him. This isn't an article, it is something he is sending to people he works with as part of a scheme to record game thoughts and observations during game time. This material is used to generate the audibles article and to provide some contextual material for the book. Audibles is explicitly the only area of the site where bias is not only acceptable but almost inevitable. If you are a football fan who is watching the game you are going to have an emotional reaction, this will likely show through in what you write. Tanier used to rant on about the Eagles at times and no one called him out.

You don't have to read audibles, I don't read all of it every week.

by ~ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:34pm

Agreed. I don't know how many times I saw Torrey Smith get arm barred or grabbed as he was about to run past a db. The officiating was at least as bad on both ends. To compare it to the SEA-PIT game is absurd nonsense that speaks more to what you wish happened than what actually did.

Check your calculators again, maybe you didn't account for something. Eggheads.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:58pm

How does "the officiating was just as bad on both ends, but it's only being remembered on one end" differ in any way from SEA-PIT?

by zzyzx :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:08pm

The difference between questionable non-calls and questionable calls.

There were two calls on consecutive plays in XL that were bizarre (I have never seen what was supposed to be the hold and the calling a player for an illegal block when they were making a tackle made no sense) and swung the game. Also a rare penalty (OPI) was called on a play that was technically correct but not more than many others.

When the flags are thrown it's harder to ignore than a penalty that was just missed.

by Rick S (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:07pm

The Ravens had one of the luckiest officiating streaks of games in the history if the NFL, considering the non-call on 4th and goal in the SB and the non-call on the pick-6 against Denver to name the most prominent gifts.

Flacco and Bouldin are clutch for sure, and both guys just gave themselves a nice raise, but their defense was extremely lucky. Baltimore is Easily the most undeserving SuperBowl winner since the Tom Brady "Tuck Rule" team of 2001.

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:11pm

I saw on the crawler before the game that the Ravens are considering dumping Boldin b/c of salary cap issues.

Wonder how much, if any this performance changes that?

Anyone know his cap hit for 2013? I'm sure the Colts would like a couple years of that size and strength (Ryan Grigson, are you reading this?) :)

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:33pm

Cutting Boldin would clear $6 million in cap relief for the Ravens, so they might have to do that in order to sign Flacco. Of course, part of the reason Flacco is going to get paid is because he's developed such a good rapport with Boldin.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:28pm

Ah, the irony. It's like rain on your wedding day.

by DGL :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:12pm

I invented an irony detector but it doesn't work. It only detects things that aren't irony.

(H/t vlogbrothers.)

by dbostedo :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:46pm

Wow... that's a pretty unusual coincidence!

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:00pm

I think you're going a bit too far. Undeserving? I mean, unless you're prepared to analyze ever single play that was noncalled or unfairly called, determine the win probability associated with said play for both sides and then make a fair judgement about it, you really have no basis to say that. Look, i saw my favorite team, favorite player, and my best friends' team lose to the ravens this post season so I rooted against them my fair share. Did they get lucky just like lots of other sb teams get lucky in the post season?(hello 2011 giants) Yes, but that doesn't make them undeserving.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:32pm

Yes, these day very few teams stomp their way through the playoffs in the manner of the 85 Bears. By that standard, the last "deserving" team I can recall is the 02 Bucs. Most teams have at least one game during their run where 1 play here or there would have swung the result.

by jds :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:12pm

No comments about the officiating, but the announcing made the game unwatchable (OK, unlistenable). Every guy with a mike, from the booth (don't get me started on Simms), to the round table hosts, to the sideline guys were unbearable, so much so that I muted the game in the second quarter. I only turned the sound back on during the power outage, to find out what was going on, to be treated to Bill Cowher saying Alex Smith should play - which led me to immediately go back to mute and then to check the internet for info. I am really going to have to find a good radio feed for games next year.

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:34pm

One more comment...power outage and officiating aside...that was a competitive, good and entertaining Super Bowl...and I think everyone can appreciate that.

Having been to one Super Bowl in my life (the 49er beat down of SD in SB 29...with Kathie Lee Gifford singing the National Anthem and some horrible Indiana Jones halftime show with Tony Bennett and the Miami Sound Machine who were just as terrible of a combination as you can imagine) that was none of those things...I truly appreciate last nights' game.

by Briguy :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:40pm

Overall, I thought the officiating was below average but not horrendous. It reminded me a bit of the IND-NE AFC Championship a few years ago that got the rules "clarified" after the season. The officials were clearly erring on the side of "letting them play." One team adjusted and pushed the boundaries, one team didn't, and the team that failed to adjust has a legitimate gripe about the officiating but also needs to realize that they could have taken the same opportunities the other team had, and chose not to.

With that said, I can't believe Cary Williams wasn't kicked out of the game after the first half scrum. Am I the only one who saw him shove a ref? That's an automatic ejection, fine, and probably suspension, right?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:44pm

I can't agree with your first paragraph, given the penalty called on Culliver in the fourth quarter, at a critical juncture. It really stands out.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:06pm

Culliver didn't even attempt to hide his pass interference. He had a big handful of jersey, and used it to spin the WR around from a full arm-length away.

That was such an egregious DPI that it's useless to use that as an example of referee inconsistency. That was a beyond the pale play. There was absolutely no plausible argument that it was either wasn't DPI or was offset by WR hand-fighting.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:20pm

As I wrote below, what I saw on replay didn't look much different than some of the non-calls. Perhaps it was different in real time, but that isn't what I saw in slow-mo.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:26pm

Most of the non-calls were things like arm-bars, chest-to-chest holding, face-guarding, or mutual fighting (like Crabtree's uncommented-upon hand all over Smith's face on that 4th-down play).

Culliver, by contrast, made absolutely no pretense of having made a legal play. He reached out and dragged a receiver back by a full extended arm. That sort of thing gets called as offensive holding even in the playoffs. Officials will give you a lot of room, but you have to at least pretend to be making a legal play. Culliver ran out of gray.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:33pm

You see, I don't think an armbar has any pretense of being a legal play.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:36pm

I think you need to explain that to Winfield of the Vikes. I doubt he will agree.

Of course, Professor Armbar aka Charles Woodson, would be the better option for a learned discussion on this topic

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:44pm

Hey, cut the AARP contingent some slack!

I guess I'm generally unsatisfied with the rules, and their application, with regard to db/receiver interaction. I'll note again that I'd favor allowing contact for a full 10 yards, while more closely and consistently enforcing actual holding and contact while the ball is in the air.

by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 8:36pm

I'm in favor of something like this, or maybe just allowing a DB to maintain a jam beyond five yards if he gets shoved backwards. Today's rules favor WRs so much that it kinda bugs me.

by CoachDave :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 4:01pm

First of all, your description of Culliver's PI is vastly overstated and exaggerated. Was it PI? Of course it was...but you could accurately make that comment for numerous times the entire game on both teams, but it was only called once.

Nevertheless, your assertion that Culliver's handful of jersey is egregious, but the Crabtree defender with two handfuls of jersey, one of which was gained by a straight armbar that hooked the WR wasn't?

They didn't call physical play the entire game in the secondary until the 4th quarter on a 3rd and nine that not only extended the drive, it led to a lot of time coming off the clock and 3 points for the Ravens. And then they swallowed the whistles again...on a clear PI against Crabtree and then on a Safety where the Ravens PURPOSEFULLY WERE TACKLING THE 49ERS as ordered by their coaches!!!

If they are going to swallow the whistles, then you can't reverse course in the 4th quarter on a 3rd and nine and then swallow them once again for the rest of the game.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 4:22pm

The only way to put this is that you're wrong.

Smith held. He absolutely did. But Crabtree also tried to run through him. So when Smith held, he was holding with arms in. Hell, a lot of guys were holding. Usually it was a carry-along hold, where they stick and arm out and grab a handful of shoulder pad, so it looks like they are running together with an arm maintaining space. It's illegal, but it's a conceit often gotten away with. It's a 'football play'.

Culliver had a handful, but he had a handful of jersey, and when Smith broke towards the sideline, it extended Culliver's grabbing hand, and Culliver dragged him back with it. Basically, the refs were willing to ignore anything that was plausibly legal.

Culliver just got sloppy and committed something that was obviously illegal. I was surprised it was called DPI instead of defensive holding, though. It was both, but I assumed he'd only get the holding call.

by CoachDave :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 12:12pm

"so when Smith held, he was holding with arms in"

Not only is that a ridiculous self-invented difference that one is a "football play" and the other is "obviously illegal". To use your favorite word, it's also wrong.

Photographically without-a-doubt-100%-proven-flat-out wrong.


(2nd photo from the top)

Left arm extended across both arms, handful of jersey, arm barring the WR, not allowing him to make a clean break...while he has a fistful of jersey with the right hand.

BTW, love to hear you spin the not-called holding on the safety play. Did they not "bearhug" and "piledrive" their opponents enough?

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 1:37pm

Great article. The writer said at the end that the no-call was consistent with no-calls historically, and even gives a reasoning where the no-call is correct:

"Not to mention that there’s this:

[“A defensive player is allowed to maintain continuous and unbroken contact within the five-yard zone until a point when the receiver is even with the defender.”]

Crabtree had not yet gained even ground (see first screenshot) with Smith, and the contact by both players was barely beyond five yards. Crabtree and Smith’s pass interference therefore fall into the same legal subset, and so no penalty should have been awarded on either side. Furthermore, remember what was stated above: both players were disadvantaged, meaning neither player gained an advantage. At this point it usually becomes a game of splitting hairs, the official deciding which player impeded the other more. And because neither foul was particularly egregious, he choose to let it all go – which, in my opinion, was the only call to make, because a singular flag on either side would have been unfairly punitive. "

In the brackets was a blockquote of an NFL rule.

by Viliphied (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 8:50pm

Key phrase that the author of the article seemed to miss: "Within the 5 yard zone". Since the ball was spotted at the 5, any contact in the end zone (which this clearly was) is by rule a foul.

by corrections (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 1:38pm

What exactly would calling the penalty have helped San Fran do? It's a safety either way (or even worse a replay of the down if the safety occurs outside the endzone). No time goes back on the clock. Why bother throwing the flag?

by stanmvp48 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 2:12pm

Why bother throwing the flag? Because the ref didn't know that the outcome of the play would be a safety when the holding occurred. He just missed it.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 11:50am

For some reason, I can't find a good photo anywhere of the Culliver DPI -- only his post-call reaction.

As to Smith, please show me a single photo of him holding with arms extended. I do note your link shows a clear OPI by Crabtree.

"In truth, how often are offensive and defensive pass interference called simulatenously? Never."

This line isn't completely correct, I don't think. I seem to recall that I've seen both OPI and DPI flagged on the same play once. It might have been in a college game, though.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:12pm

I'm not such a wizard with photo searches, but it's not tough to find descriptions of the hold. This is Matt Bowen, who used to be a DB:


The “no-call” in the red zone: I will always come to the defense of the secondary when we talk about physical play and some contact on the release (or through the route stem). However, I can see why Jim Harbaugh had a serious issue on the fade route to Michael Crabtree vs. Jimmy Smith. As a DB, you can get away with a hold if you keep your hands inside of the shoulder pads from a press-alignment. But when you grab outside of those pads (as we saw with Smith on the release), that’s a call the refs probably should make. Rough night all around for the officiating crew down in New Orleans.

by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 3:25pm

Yeah, I can't think of any time when DPI and OPI was called at the same time. In those cases, I think refs purposefully don't call either, instead of calling both and letting them do the play again.

by Anony (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 12:52pm

How about the helmet to helmet hit on a defenseless Crabtree on the third down and goal?

by Jimmy :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:17pm

I would agree with that. Just because he was being tackled by another defender doesn't mean that he was in any better position to protect himself. Neither does the fact that he wasn't heading upfield. He had just caught the ball and was smacked in the head, they have called it all year long (and no one had much of a problem with it due to the league concussion problems - they have to try to do something), why not call it there?

by RavensJimbo (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:20pm

Interesting fact just Tweeted by ESPN Stats & Info: In last 5 NFL postseasons (55 gms), officials have thrown only 2 flags for def. holding or def. pass interference in last 2 min. of game.

So it seems the smart football play is to hold/commit DPI like mad in the last 2 minutes of a post-season game.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:32pm

Interesting stat which matches my subjective opinion, but it needs a point of comparison. How often is defensive holding/DPI normally called in the last 2 minutes of a game in the last 5 years?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:36pm

I do think in depth referee analysis/charting is the undiscovered country of NFL knowledge. I literally have no idea of what we would learn.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:40pm

That it's far worse than folks think

Football officiating is the climate change of sports. " Oh, you think it's bad? No. It's REALLY, REALLY bad."

by DGKNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:53pm

Exactly...in a league of 3 point spreads there is an extreme tactical advantage to knowing that Boger will not call a thing all game (my god the holding on the safety was immaterial but stunningly obvious). If this is his trend then John Harbaugh probably shrewdly coached towards this. I just hate lazy analysis that bad call goes both ways.....Kurtz was like the drunk at the bar stating this. Not true as the 49ers probably had history changed by getting a bad whistle.

I hate Jim Harbaugh by the way...all the way back to Stanford. Not a gambler either. Just feel so strongly that you need to get that Crabtree play correct.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:00pm

Right. It's completely obvious on replay that not only does he grab his shirt, but uses his left arm to bar movement. It's really clearly holding by the rules. Much more glaring than say the Bowman play vs the Falcons.

But if your are the ref who sees that and you call it, and turns out you are WRONG. You will live in infamy. I can't blame them for not calling it.

Just FYI, I'm a Niners fan, and I'm not going to blame the loss on this. But it was a horribly reffed game for all the reasons mentioned (yeah the Culliver penalty was an odd one to call after calling absolutely nothing else). Loss of control, mainly, or any slight attempt to enforce the rules.

by Silm (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:38pm

just because it was the only DPI called doesnt mean it wasnt still DPI. In fact they called a very loose game, including the 1Q where Torrey gets held alot. But the call they did make was easily the most egregious of them. On replay it is clear Culliver is testing his limits even further and the refs have no choice.

In any case you all need to get over it because refs did not decide this game. SF's poor play in the face of BAL's better play did.

SB XLVII is in the books, deal with it.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:50pm

No, it's not clear the Culliver is testing his limits even further, and the refs had no choice. That's just what you have written, because it fits your preferred narrative, just like what a lot of people, including me, have done in this thread.
None of us have energetically employed what tools (and those tools are limited) are available to evaluate referee behavior in a systematic fashion.

The game was pretty much a tie, in any meaningful analysis, in terms of player performance, and any number of non-predictive events, having little or nothing to do with player performance, would have resulted in a parade in a different city tomorrow.

by DGKNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:44pm

The Crabtree hold play was catchable...plenty of GIFS there.

Is Mike Kurtz really the right choice for the audience of this site? You go for two earlier rather than later because you have more time to adjust to the information if you missed it. Only Phil Simms is of the mindset "you don't chase points".

Kurtz also was incapable of cogent officiating analysis...reverting to the Simmsian "there were bad call for both teams". Jim harbaugh is screaming to the heavens about the last call. It is beyond material.

by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:53pm

It was not close to catchable. You're kidding yourself. It was four yards out of bounds.

by DGKNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:57pm

Dead wrong. Look at the cover here...Crabtree wasn't that far off despite not being able to release or jump.


by Gus (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 8:48pm

Yes, one deceptive-angle photo posted on a 49ers blog has opened my eyes. Clearly you and the vast minority of people who think that Crabtree could have caught the ball and stayed inbounds are right. /sarcasm

You're the one who's "dead wrong" here. Crabtree wasn't as close to the ball as the poor angle shot makes it look like, and even if he was, catching it would have put about about two yards out of bounds IF he had managed to grab it at its apex. I'm being charitable there.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 9:49pm

The angle on Ninersnation is a bit deceptive but a receiver could have caught that ball and got his feet in. As for him not being close, that would be because he was held, that's the point.

by Flounder :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:02pm

Jim Harbough screamed to the heavens about a perceived wrong against his team?

No way, get out of town........... that is so unlike Jim Harbough. I've never, ever seen him wildly gesticulate and go on an extended, self-indulgant sideline rant before. Wow, if Jim Harbough screamed to the heavens, that really means something.

by DGKNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:04pm

Meaning it is a relevant lead national media story. ESPN.com has it at the top of their headlines. This isn't some back griping on a team blog.....it is a huge talking point. Hope I made that clear.

by Rikki (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:50pm

Paraphrasing Troy Aikman at the Giants-Ravens game... "the Ravens can beat any team in football right now"...

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:57pm

It is sad that 90% of the comments so far have been about the refs in a game that didn't really seem to be decided by the refs.

Personally, I'm fine with the no-call. I thought the holding was egregious after the ball was in the air so DPI rules would apply, but the ball was uncatchable.

Anyway, a quick point about Kaepernick. It seems to me he struggles with throws in tight windows (red zone) and struggles with touch throws. Both times he attempted to throw a fade in the end zone it was woefully overthrown (he was pressured both times though). His numbers throwing into the end zone are bad. These are things he can overcome, and it doesn't stop him from playing well, but the Ravens big blitzes seemed to be an effective way to limit his throwing.

by DGKNJ (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 1:59pm

See above. 6'4 Wrs can get up 11 feet. This was well within the catching radius. Crabtree missed by about a foot w/o jumping.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:12pm

Fine. It looked worse when I saw it yesterday. Either way, I don't think that no-call becomes infamous years from now. This wasn't Super Bowl XL.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:09pm

Since there hasn't been much of a Kaepernick thread, good idea.
He does great with tons of space. I had no doubt they would drive on the Ravens at the end. But they do better when they skip the red zone entirely. When the game shrinks, the inexperience shows. Eventually his gun of an arm will help him down there, but at this point he's panicky. Every time they blitzed, he wasn't willing to hang in there AT ALL--to give an additional second for a route to develop. Or use his running ability to buy a few seconds. He can't go to his 3rd read yet. And he airmailed every pass.

FYI I hated the spread formation on the 2 point try. What was that? Also Ravens appeared to be offsides

But the downfield throws are amazing. And he does show touch sometimes in throwing over defenders, so it's not like he can't.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:13pm

I checked the two pointer because I thought they were offsides but they just had the cadence down.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:30pm

Another downside to having a very talented, but very inexperienced qb leading your offense in the last game, against a very experienced defense. Not that the Niners should have done anything differently; it's just an area in which the Ravens had an advantage.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:32pm

Yeah, I had meant to include that snap count thing in my Kaep commentary. Very predictable, burned them a bunch yesterday

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:11pm

They had the cadence down quite a bit. First was the Kruger sack, then the Reed 2-point, then the final 4th down. Reminded me a bit of the 2008 Wild Card game when Arizona realized Atlanta was using the same snap count the entire game.

Obviously this wasn't as bad, but on every big red zone play (3rd down early, 2PC, 4th down) the Ravens had the snap count down.

by ChuckC (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:41pm

They had the cadence down because Kaepernick always took the play clock down to 1 or 2. They knew when the snap was coming because that was when he HAD to snap it or take a delay.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:50pm

Even on the 2-point conversion?

Makes sense though. I realized them taking the full 40 seconds a lot.

by zenbitz :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 4:55pm

I think having only 1 quality WR hurts in the red zone, too. 2 quality receivers overall if you count Vernon Davis.

I don't recall this being an easy area when Smith was behind center either, so I don't think you can pin it all on inexperience.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 6:16pm

Smith had red zone problems too, you are correct to point out. But I think for different reasons: his arm and general limitations
Kaep is much likely to be better at this in 1-3 years than Smith. I think it's inexperience. I allow that I may be wrong.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 6:53pm

1 quality WR?

I realize Randy Moss isn't the Vikings Randy Moss anymore, but he's still 6-4. Has throwing a jump ball recently become illegal? Because if so, no one told Anquan Boldin.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:06pm

156 pososts and long comments from FO site guys above.going to take hours lto tead this all tongitb

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:11pm

I'm gutted, just gutted about the result. I thought the refs stank and that the calls probably did help the Ravens overall but that the niners should really blame themselves for some really poor mistakes.

What is bugging me is the NFL's demented belief that the officials should 'let the players play' in big games. Why call those games differently? Why should a ref not throw a flag at the end of a close game? It makes no sense.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:20pm

Among the pro sports only baseball works to consistently maintain the application of rules throughout the course of a playoff game.

NBA, hockey and football all have the common approach of at the end of the game unless a foul is beyond obvious the enfraction is not called.

Sure you can find exceptions but for the most part this has been the norm for many years.

Not saying it's right or wrong. But it is something that has become part of the landscape.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:23pm

The call on Culliver in the fourth quarter makes no sense, if "let the players play" is the philosophy in big games. I have no conspiracy theories one way or another, and in many ways the Ravens victory is pleasing to me. I see the game yesterday as essentially a tie. I'd just like to have more information with regard to referee performance, so I can get my arms around to what degree the random nature of their behavior is affecting the outcome of games, especially close games.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:58pm

I don't agree. Watching it it real time, it looked much worse than the no-calls. Replay revealed it to be much closer to the other plays, but in real-time it looked like it had to get a flag, IMO.

Regardless, I think what we should take away from this game is that a.) the Niner's mediocre secondary was being protected by their pass rush (not a shock), and b.) Teams will be watching this game and the Ravens/Skins game to figure out how to stop the read option next year.

I'm still surprised they didn't smack Kaepernick more, especially after it was OK to hit Flacco out of bounds, but maybe Raven defenders are aware of their rep?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:13pm

Perhaps I'm remembering it more on seeing the replay, but it didn't look all that different from the non-calls to me.

by corrections (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 1:45pm

Live I thought it looked really bad. On replay it looked closer. Also note that 3 officials threw their flags on that one play so they all saw something and given my impression live I think I would have agreed with it in the moment.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 1:56pm

Again, I'm just generally unhappy with the rules, and their application, governing interaction between receivers and dbs. I'd really like to see very strict, very consistent, enforcement of ALL grabbing, armbars, etc., and contact while the ball is in the air, while allowing the dbs to maintain non holding contact for a full 10 yards. I think it would reemphasize quality offesive line play, and the ability to run the ball, make big, disciplined, cornerbacks more viable, and reduce the amount of randomness regarding referee decisions which affects the outomes of close games.

by DavidL :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:27pm

The idea is that "nobody wants to see a championship decided by a flag." Which completely ignores the fact that if the players didn't know they can get away with blatant holds in the playoffs, they wouldn't hold blatantly in the playoffs and the games still wouldn't be decided by flags.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:42pm

Yes, Niners executed a lot of little things poorly, and the Ravens were better. This is the reason for the outcome, even if the refs did throw out the rulebook in it's entirety.

Did you think, Karl, that the Ravens were more prepared emotionally for the magnitude of the game? We came out flat and used our extra energy for dumb penalties and pointless pushing and shoving. Jim H being so wound up might not always be such a good thing. But maybe I'm just trying to create a narrative like the bad announcers do. :)

by dan harmon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 2:55pm

Insane, probably stupid thought of the day: would SF had been better off taking the delay of game on 3rd down of that last drive rather than using the timeout?

I'm by no means educated in anyway regarding route combinations and such, but it seems to me that opening up the field a little more may have helped them especially considering how bad Lewis was in coverage all game. Spread 'em out, run 4 (5?) routes, and tell Kaepernick that if he sees a lane to take off.

I have no idea if there's any merit based on strategy (or statistics) that show 3rd and goal from the 10 is ever a better situation than from the 5. But it's obvious SF had no intention of running the football (even though they still had a timeout). If you're not calling a run, then does the extra 5 yards help your passing strategy?

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:32pm

Yes. Woudlbhavev been better off taking delay of game than wsaiting time out.

by dan harmon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:43pm

Having one or two timeouts at that point made no difference since it's third down (you can argue that having an extra after Baltimore gets the ball back would have been helpful).

My question is regardless of saving the TO. My question is whether the likelihood of scoring via the pass is better from the 10 (with two chances) than the 5 (with two chances).

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 4:36pm

It's not.

3rd or 4th and goal from less than 5 scores (or converts a 1st down) about 40-45% of the time. 3rd or 4th and goal from 5 or more has a success rate half of that.

You go from 50-50 odds to 1 in 4. In this context, the distance is worth more than the time.

Looks like, since 2000 or so, getting the ball back, even within the 50, with less than a minute remaining, and down needing a TD -- you have around 33% odds of scoring and winning. The PFR game search engine is shaky on the requirements for this search, but that's along the lines of what it finds.

I used that spec as what would have happened had SF two TOs, leaving Baltimore punting from its end zone, up 5, with about 1:00 left.

by dan harmon (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 4:45pm

The 5 yard line cutoff for that stat only confuses matters. They weren't inside the 5; They were at the 5. I assume there's minimal data on at the 5 vs. at the 10. It also doesn't take into account playcalling, which is the crux of the question: if you're not going to run the football, does the distance actually matter significantly?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:00pm

For only at the 5 versus at the 10, it's still 2:1. It's just 28-14% instead of 50-25%. Play-calling doesn't change much, though.

It's 37% versus 19% for the 4 versus the 9, if you're interesting.

Basically, in 3rd or 4th and goal to go, those 5 lost yards halve your chance of converting for a TD.

by MJK :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 12:31am

Given the playcalling they knew they were going to do (or should have known), taking the TO was the wrong decision.

You're right that the odds of scoring a TD in two downs drops substantially going from the 5 to the 10...but that's because it's so much easier to run the ball in from the 5, and to have the threat of playaction. However, if you're planning on just dropping back and throwing out routes or fades to Crabtree on every subsequent down, I suspect your odds of scoring a TD might actually be higher from the 10...there's more space to cover, and with a TO in hand you can throw short of the goal line on 3rd down.

Meanwhile, if you plan to throw into the endzone on both downs, you're not going to burn much clock, so with something like 1:50 on the clock, two TO's mean that if you don't get the TD, you'll likely get the ball back with something like 50 seconds left on the clock (no way there's an intentional safety with that much time left).

I think you're right...playing straight probabilities mean you're better taking the TO and executing a balanced attack. Especially because the other team still had 3 TO's and will try to score a game winning FG after your intended TD, so it might be a good idea to take time off the clock by running it, which you only really want to try from the 5, not the 10. So the real mistake was the playcalling. (Well, that and burning the first TO earlier in the half, and letting the playclock tick down so far that you had to make this decision).

BUT...the coach doesn't have to decide to take a TO in a vacuum...given that he knew (or should have known) that the playcalling was going to be two straight pass attempts, I suspect it would have been better to take the penalties.

by MJK :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 12:34am

Incidentally, those probabilities feel really low... I would have guessed a pass attempt from the 10 yard line into the endzone succeeds about 1 time in 5 on average...which would make the probability of scoring a TD 1 - (0.8)*(0.8) = 36%, not 14%. But maybe that just marks me as a fan of a team with a good QB...

by Paul R :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:13pm

Re: "Let the Players Play" Non-Calls in the Big Game

I think you have to work backwards from the problem that the refs cannot call every single penalty in every single game. Not because they don't see them, but because the game would become 5 hours long and virtually unplayable. More important to the bottom line, the game would become unwatchable.
Nobody wants to see a game which features Jerome Boger as the leading ball carrier-- 150 yards of marching the ball back-and-forth five yards at a time--but that's what we would have in the current situation. Nobody wants a traffic cop who gives you a ticket for going 1 m.p.h. over the speed limit.

So, the number of penalties in a game are, to an extent, determined by the "style" of the particular officiating crew. Obviously the NFL wants a fast-paced, exciting game for the Super Bowl, so they are going to favor an officiating crew that lets the players play more than a crew that calls every foul. If the NFL is going to err, it will err on the side of too much permissiveness.
Debating whether an official blew a call is often debating whether the player's offense was too far outside of the gray area that everyone knows is necessary for the game to be played.

For myself, I thought the officials were at their worst during some of the scrums in the first half. They were obviously petrified at the thought of ejecting a player from the Super Bowl. Allowing players to push and shove during the course of a play is one thing, but you can not allow fistfights, ripping helmets off and shoving officials after the play is over.
If an official is afraid to eject a player who shoves him, then he is showing that he is not in control of the game, which means that no one is in control of the game, which makes the game dangerous. No one wants that, not even the players.
I think the primary responsibility of an official is to step in when things get out of control. If he can't do that, he shouldn't be there.

by bengt (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 8:38am

Nobody wants to see a game which features Jerome Boger as the leading ball carrier
Your error of course is to assume that the players would commit penalties at the same rate when the refs are actually throwing the flags.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:21pm

My wife is a Steelers fan and hates the Ravens with the passion of a thousand burning suns (as they say on the Internet). When I told her that folks were griping about the officiating her response, "What a bunch of babies. The Niners spent half the game being bad while the Ravens were never bad. And John Harbaugh should be fined for yelling at the poor guy in the suit. That was crap."

That's a pretty solid game summary

by joe football (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 5:22pm

The ravens were pretty bad for most of the second half and are pretty lucky they broke a random kickoff return TD. I'd say SF outplayed them overall

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 5:26pm

When the 49ers cut it to 5, they went on one drive that ended inside the 5. They then stopped a crucial two-point conversion, and on the next drive, drove it down the field to get a field goal, and if not for a Dennis Pitta drop that drive could have ended in a game clinching INT.

SF definitely outplayed them in the 2nd Half, but I don't think it was that clear.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 4:55pm

I must admit that I have a very difficult time at this point figuring out what is legitimate criticism from longtime readers and what is just whiny trolling. The latter unfortunately tends to drown out the former, but I don't want to use the trolling as an excuse to ignore reasonable criticism. II will note that I'm more likely to take criticism seriously when it comes from registered readers.

We call 'em as we see 'em, folks. I'm sorry if people thought we were too officiating-focused. But none of us had much of a stake in the 49ers winning the game other than Danny, and if you have a problem with his anger, well, I don't know what to tell you. It's been FO policy that as fans of our favorite teams, we all wear our hearts on our sleeves. It's been that way since the very beginning when Ian Dembsky was suffering through Tampa Bay blowing a huge lead to the Colts on Monday Night Football.

I've found that when people complain that "Football Outsiders used to be like X, and now it's like Y instead," it's almost always the case that in fact we've been like Y since the very beginning.

Also, the fact is, the officiating ends up being a heavy subject in Audibles because it is debatable. The Ravens' win had more to do with "Anquan Boldin played amazing" and "the 49ers forgot how to tackle in space," but we didn't mention those things over and over because there was nothing to add or debate about once they had been mentioned.

That's how it works, and I guess like the person who said I don't need to read Twitter, people who don't like to read Audibles don't have to read Audibles. I like to think we provide a wide variety of writing styles and reading experiences on this website. I'm sure there's something else you would enjoy more.

Oh, and I'm sorry again about Audibles starting with the criticism of the poster in the KCW Team thread. I commented about that more above, but that wasn't cool and Audibles wasn't the right place for it.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 5:11pm

For what it is worth, I like the unfiltered aspect of Audibles, with articles later in the week being more disciplined analysis. There's room for both, and people can ignore what they don't find entertaining. Occasionally, I see some excessively undisciplined analysis where it doesn't belong, but, hey, nobody's perfect.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 5:11pm

I would have made many of the same comments as Danny, I can really, really understand where he was coming from. Even though I have decided to blame the niners for their own errors rather than vent at the shoddy refs I couldn't in good conscience repeat some of the texts that I exchanged with another 49ers fan. They would be libelous about the officials, the Ravens and a certain self adulatory linebacker, along with being rather explicit. Danny was the epitome of moderation in comparison.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 5:33pm

Complaining about the refs is fine and this game definitely wasn't officiated well at all. What rubs me the wrong way was Danny's ridiculous bias when it comes to how "one sided" he felt the officiating was. per his twitter acct, "so is "getting away with murder" the wrong phrase to use when talking about BAL's win?" I'm sorry, this was not seattle pitt where the calls went entirely to one side. Sf got away with calls too. Complaining about the refs is ok, but it comes off as terrible homerism when you scapegoat the refs for the reason why sf lost.

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:51pm

If the "getting away with murder" phrase adds juice to cutting criticism of the Ravens, that's on what readers bring to the table. Yeah, "Phrasing!" but it's more pointed than forced.

That said Culliver held alot, probably because he's really good at it. I thought the Ravens did a nice job with breaking off contact early enough to get the laundry away. It's gamesmanship, and I thought the refs were consistant in their calls between teams and in the "let them play" spirit that seemed to prevail throughout the playoffs. Given how bad the officiating normally is, it's difficult for me to find fault with that.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 5:23pm

I think the real effect was felt in the comments, which became overly referee-centric. The Audibles above had a fair amount of talk just about the game, which makes sense because as a piece that documents a span of time and most of the controversial calls coming late, there was a lot of time to talk about the game.

I think that talking a lot about officiating in Audibles then leads invariably to people saying how "they talk about officiating too much" but more than that just opens up a forum to complain about officiating. This was a really interesting game outside of the refs.

Then again, I like having Brady-Manning debates, so I'm not really one to pass judgement here.

I will say that the talk of officiating largely removed any talk of how the Ravens won with a lesser DVOA. In that way, I think the FO staff was a lot more 'whiny' in that respect back in the '07 and '08 playoffs when the Giants and Cardinals went on those runs.

by Purds :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 6:12pm

I like the open nature of the staff comments in audibles. This section seems the most "old school" of all the FO sections. It's been around forever, and most of the guys who have been reading for years know the set up.

Don't worry, Danny. We would all feel that way in the moment.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 6:19pm

Aaron, I found the ref stuff to be rather irritating but at least it was about the game. The KCW thing was kind of bizarre and out of leftfield. I bet 90% of readers had no clue what Tom was even talking about give you'd have to be familiar with not just the article but the comments to the article. Why he didn't address the comment directly in that article is a real puzzler.

I will say, as I allude to from time-to-time, that you really end up walking a fine line here with the multiple masters you try to serve. Do you want personalities who wear their hearts on their sleeves and are prone to outlandish statements? Or do you need guys who are more even-handed who can sell being unbiased when it comes to your core articles? It's hard to have both. And while I've always found you to be able to walk that line, others simply haven't done that nearly as well.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 6:28pm

Is this something Fo writers are routinely guilty of? This was the first time I think I've seen the Fo writers do something that was outlandish. Other times, as aaron mentioned, fully acknowledge their fan biases and the nature of these audibles. Overall, you get to see a glimpse of their true rooting nature. I have nothing against audibles from that stand point.

I do believe you can fairly criticize their viewpoints though as wrong or biased, just not for being unethical.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 6:55pm

No,they're not known for that at all, which is why this really stands out. I've been reading this site for a good number o years and can't recall another time where a comment got referenced in an unrelated article. I don't remember that even happening when Bill Barnwell worked here. Barnwell did a lot of unprofessional stuff, including wading into the comments and starting flame wars with posters, but as I remember he'd confine it to that specific article. Maybe Tom was trying to be funny, but it was certainly strange to see such a benign comment get called out like that. (But as a compliment to Aaron, it seems like he's running a tighter ship now than in the Barnwell days, because Barnwell would get away with murder without Aaron or anybody else calling him on it.)

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:12pm

Remember these are emails from staff to the staff. I'm sure not all of the emails that are sent out each weekend get put into the Audibles thread.

Tom sent the email not knowing if it appears in this or not.

I'm guessing this is how it works.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:19pm

I wonder if they edit out any potentially rancorous emails between FO staff men. For all we know, Rivers and Mike may have threatened to duke it out in the parking lot at the next FO staff meeting.

by jds :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:40pm

Y'know, my understanding of this is audibles is compiled from emails, that are meant to be an internet based "virtual sports bar" with these guys. There are probably some incoherent ramblings, which may get cleaned up in editing if the point is worthwhile, and dropped if not worthwhile. And I am sure there are a number of email comments that are NSFW, just like at the real sports bars I may frequent. (Ask to see the comments about the half time show).

by Rivers McCown :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:41pm

We mark some comments as "NFA" when we know they're going to be offensive or out-of-bounds (or contain sensitive information), those never see the light of day.

In this case, no, there were no further e-mails. I think we're usually helped by the fact that at the end of these threads, everyone is too tired to actually hold a grudge.

by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 11:29am

I don't know what it would be like if you had a close controversial Super Bowl between, say, San Francisco and New England, or San Francisco and Houston.

However, back in 2005, we had both Doug Farrar and Ryan Wilson writing here and I don't remember Audibles blowing up after that Super Bowl. And Ned Macey and I were never at each other's throats about Colts-Pats games, although I don't remember officiating ever really being an issue in Colts-Pats games.

by theslothook :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 3:04pm

Aaron, as this bitter colts fan will remind you, the 2003 game was the infamous game which ended with Polian screaming about db holding, which actually percipitated the whole 5 yard penalty stuff. Its been a while since and I never went back and rewatched that game, but I have that vivid memory of law holding harrison all the way down the field.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:33pm

Yeah, it could be in this case the editing made it look worse than it was. I could imagine it spinning off of another comment and looking more humorous and sort of getting lost in the chatter, but the way it's presented here it's just a blast to start the column coming out of nowhere.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:45pm

"No,they're not known for that at all..."

I think he was referring to showing what their biases are and admitting that they're fans of certain teams. Not the part about starting out Audibles with an unreferenced comment.

I think they've always been very open with their fanatacism for certain teams.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:48pm

Aaron once again put it better than I can, but since most of the "stop whining about the refs" commentary is about me, I'll add a thought or two of my own.

First, the Ravens won, and the 49ers lost. Nothing I can do about that. The 49ers came out flat like they have been for most of the second half of the season. For the first time in two years, it seemed like Jim Harbaugh got thoroughly outcoached. For instance, intentionally holding on the safety was just brilliant. And you know what? Another brilliant coaching move was John evidently doing a better job of scouting the officiating, and knowing they're not going to call things in a Super Bowl that routinely get called in every other game. Kudos to him and the Ravens for exploiting it.

Part of the reason why I come off as so unhinged here (much more than your run-of-the-mill ref whining) is because I knew in advance that practically the only way Baltimore could win is if they benefited from the random aspects of football that allow underdogs to win in the NFL, one of which is officiating. San Francisco was the better team over the course of the season, not just according to stats, but also if you looked at strategic matchups (e.g., the single-high safety thing Andy and I mentioned).

In fact, over at Niners Nation, the writers made their predictions for the game, and David asked me to provide mine, so I did. I made two, but only the SF-win one got published due to space limitations. Here was the full prediction e-mail I sent:

I have two alternate universes for the game, which therefore require alternate-universe predictions:

Universe 1, which we'll call "The Predictable Universe" -- 49ers win 31-20, with Colin Kaepernick winning MVP. The two notable moments (besides the clock hitting triple zeros for a sixth Lombardi) will be a Kaepernick touchdown run of 40+ yards and a Randy Moss touchdown reception of 40+ yards.

Universe 2, which we'll call "The Random Universe" -- Ravens win 24-21, with Joe Flacco winning MVP (because someone has to win it in a game like this). The three notable moments (besides me falling into an alcohol-induced coma) will be a Jacoby Jones kickoff return touchdown, a muffed punt by Ted Ginn that directly leads to a score for Baltimore, and a crucial field goal missed wide left by David Akers.

Basically, if you look at the last two seasons, except for the Giants game earlier this year, the 49ers win when they're the better team on paper (Seattle was actually the better team going into the game: http://www.footballoutsiders.com/dvoa-ratings/2012/week-15-dvoa-ratings)...unless some random crap happens. Obviously, there's last year's NFC Championship game, but there's also the collective brain fart that led to the Rams' only touchdown in Week 13. Then we have the uncalled blatant holding (http://twitter.com/FO_DTuccitto/status/255783541374349314) on Christian Ponder's touchdown run in Week 3. Also, the Cowboys sending last year's Week 2 game into overtime on a 48-yard Dan Bailey field goal as time expired. Week 14 loss at Arizona last year? How about it being the first of three games missed by Patrick Willis, and replacement Larry Grant gets called for a B.S. roughing the passer penalty that gives Arizona life? And of course, in the Ravens game last year, a 75-yard Ginn touchdown gets called back for a ticky-tack illegal chop block.

In this one, San Francisco is clearly the better team on paper. If they lose, it's because of the random stuff that usually happens when a clear favorite comes up short on any given Sunday.

Now you know the background on my "orderly universe" Audible. And now you can kind of understand my meltdown. I was basically watching my worst nightmare unfold before my eyes: the officiating, the Jones return TD, the Akers miss. At that point, nothing seems rational to me. I'm in a fog of confusion and despair that will not produce any kind of coherent game analysis. And so guess what? I left the Audibles e-mail thread for the remainder of the second half.

Everything after that is venting, especially right on the heels of the Crabtree fourth-down play. Maybe I should have stayed away. As a fan, though, that's what I was feeling and thinking at the time. If you come to read Audibles hoping for in-game analysis, I couldn't provide any because I was seeing bogeymen around every corner -- bogeymen that I myself predicted not hours earlier.

If you come to Audibles because it's the only content on the site where we actually behave like human beings rather than cold objective observers and analysts, then you got my venting. That doesn't mean I can't be objective in everything else I write; I just couldn't be yesterday. Case in point: Not 15 minutes after the game ended, guess whose byline appears on an ESPN Insider piece titled, "Why Baltimore Can Repeat?"

Basically, just give me a pass on this one, everyone. And hopefully understand that Audibles devolving into complaining because we're fans just like everyone else doesn't taint every other piece of content you read on FO.

by theslothook :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 7:55pm

Fair enough Danny. Sorry to kick you while you're down. Watching my fav team lose the sb made me avoid FO and all football related sites for at least two weeks.

by Sifter :: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 5:23pm

Thanks for coming back and replying Danny. Completely understand your pain. But with that said...the preview piece you've quoted hardly clears you of anything - it just makes you look like a serial ref-blamer. You mention 3 separate games that were affected by 3 separate calls in that paragraph. Makes the casual reader wonder if you think the 49ers actually deserved to lose any games on their own or whether it's just the universe getting back at them...I know you don't believe it's that extreme, I'm just saying that your reputation will skate on thin ice if you continually resort to ref bashing. Be careful!

by theslothook :: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 6:10pm

Actually, my biggest problem is with danny's premise about the best team only loses if fluky things happen. Um...the 2007 undefeated Pats lost the sb fair and square with really nothing fluky to explain their loss. Sometimes, you just get beat. This notion that the 49ers had this in the bag and only the refs or god could screw them over is the real issue.

The 49ers fell behind in atlanta big before climbing back. They lost to the giants in a blow out and two close games against a mediocre rams team. Their pass rush was impotent as soon as Smith's injuries so the cracks were there. Are they ultimately better than the Ravens? Probably, but it does smack of a bit of arrogance to just pretend like the best team only loses when refs/luck intervene.

by morganja :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:21pm

I am more hyper-sensitive than most to poor officiating, but this game was one of the better officiated playoff games I've seen over the pasts 30 years. I have no idea what people are complaining about. The only legitimate grief was letting layers be too chippy in the early game.
As far as the 4th down call....seriously?
That will never be called. Unless your QB is the Golden Boy.
There was a moment when it could have been called DPI, but the defender very wisely allowed himself to fall away after the contact.
He had perfect technique. That is never, ever, ever called.
It would have been a memorably terrible call if the ref had made it.
Luckily he did the right thing.
San Francisco, especially their character-deficient coach, needs to shut up until they calm down. Try to show a little class.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 1:18pm

That's how I saw it. The only time I had a problem with the officiating was not throwing out the Raven who pushed the referee during the first half melee, which is supposed to be an automatic ejection.

by FooBar (not verified) :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:46pm

It's interesting that the writers of this article do not seem to know that the officiating crew is not "Jerome Boger's crew". It's an all-star crew; supposedly, the best at each position.

Therefore, to attribute poor officiating (whether it was or not) to some idea that Boger's crew during the regular season is really bad is simply ridiculous.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 02/04/2013 - 11:55pm

They actually do, as they referenced the shenanigans that went into Boger becoming the referee for this game, which involve Boger being assigned possibly against the NFL's own internal rules for selecting a referee.

That said, you still call it "Boger's crew" since he's the head of the group of the officials. Every single game that Boger is the referee for is officiated by "Boger's crew".

by Danny Tuccitto :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 1:47am

This. I, for one, am well aware it was an all-star crew. And, him being our officiating guy, it kind of goes without saying that Mike's aware as well. "Boger's crew" just means "Boger's in charge for this game."

by theslothook :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 2:05am

I don't know all the details and I suspect there's a lot to this story that really only a select few know, but Mike Periera was asked about it and he said this was merely politicking by disgruntled referees stemming from the lockout settlement. He thought Boger was just fine as a ref and no worse than any other crew.

That said, it wasn't the best officiated game imo at all. Honestly, the best officiated game was sb 07 and last years. The safety Brady took is normally not called but it was and correctly.

by mwu (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 1:14am

I think John Harbaugh took a page out of Belichick's book: It's the playoffs, so mug the receivers until the refs stop you.

Or perhaps the Balmer coaching staff studied the tendencies of the Super Bowl officiating crew, which is strikes me as pretty laudable, especially on a site devoted to advanced study of football.

by RavensJimbo (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 12:06pm

I guarantee you that Harbaugh knew the tendencies of every official on that field. Remember the replacement ref who got fired because he had pictures of himself on the Internet wearing Saints gear? Harbaugh had Googled him before a preseason game, found those same pictures, and even mentioned them to the guy on the field before the game.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 1:22pm

Yes, because only the Ravens DBs were mugging the receivers. /sarcasm

by Sancho (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 12:15pm

I loved the fake FG attempt. It was the perfect opportunity for it. Two touchdowns ahead, defense playing well, way down field, surprise element in Ravens favor (since it was a long shot)...

If they succeed, it would really hurt the Niners. If they fail (as they did), SF would still be 2 touchdowns behind and stucked deep on its own field.

by Tanner (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 6:38pm

As a Bills fan, it's nice to see that the entire world can now appreciate Donte Whitner for all of his incompetent glory

by Anonymous2-13 (not verified) :: Tue, 02/05/2013 - 6:43pm

Little bit of a SF bias from the staff here.

Akers was destroyed on that FG try? You mean he flopped, yes. The hit on Flacco would have been 100% called if it were Brees or Manning or Brady. The 49er had both fee OUT OF BOUNDS when he hit Flacco. Terrible no call. Torrey Smith was utterly armbarred after he beat the SF DB early on. No call.

To think that the Ravens were not the victims of sketchy officiating and that the 49ers were somehow the victims is just flat out false.

by bengt (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 9:14am

The 49er had both fee OUT OF BOUNDS when he hit Flacco.
Now that is interesting. I would totally have sworn that the 'out of bounds' part of the rule does first and foremost apply to the hit player, and maybe not at all to the hitter. Can anybody elaborate? (I'll openly admit that I have no idea of neither wording nor exact meaning of the respective rule.)

by bengt (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 9:37am

Two more observations, if anybody is still reading:
When cutting out the halftime show from my recording I rewatched the Ravens players entering the tunnel. Haloti Ngata was limping like a 70-year-old arthritic.
My impression was that the Ravens defenders had huge problems with the 49ers handoff fakes (e.g. my above comment on Terrell S. on the play that gave the 49ers their last first down).

by MCFox (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 6:31pm

More on the Crabtree/Smith 4th and 5 no-call:

I know this has been done to death, but I've re-read the NFL Rulebook and rewatched that play dozens of times. My conclusion is that this play could have been called any number of ways but would have been correctly called as a Double Foul (Rule 14, Sec 3, Art1) - 15 yards against SF for facemask push (Rule 12, Sec 2, Art 13); 5 yards against Balt for defensive holding (Rule 8, Sec 4, Art 6), replay 4th down from the Balt 20 yard line. That's hardly a certain change in the outcome of the game.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 8:10pm

Something I've always wondered, so if one teams commits a minor (5-yard) infraction, while the other commits a personal foul (15yds) does it offset? By your scenario it wouldn't. Curious to know how it works.

by MCFox (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 11:58pm

My take of the rules cited above is that double fouls always offset, but when one is a major the distance penalty for the major is enforced. So, the offset is the replay of the down. (One way to you think about it is as a forced offset because the team that benefits from the major penalty cannot realistically decline it hoping to benefit from the decline because then the minor penalty would still be enforced against it - in this case, yielding distance plus a new first down.) Of course, I am not a graduate of NFL Official School, so I could be wrong here, but the play was so controversial I thought it was worth a bit of research. (Note: The rules also provide no Pass Interference for Incidental Contact or an Uncatchable Pass, so, I don't think you can fault the officials for not flagging PI either way, it's a judgement call, but there's no similar judgement for Defensive Holding. The rule on Defensive Holding is pretty black and white -- grab a jersey with both hands and its a hold.) The rule on pushing a facemask is similarly black and white.

by deep64blue :: Sat, 02/09/2013 - 10:57am

The plays offset so the down would be replayed at the same spot, the difference in yardage has no effect.

by MCFox (not verified) :: Sat, 02/09/2013 - 7:30pm

Under Rule 14, Sec 3, Art 1, I have to throw the flag on this comment.

by Andrew Potter :: Sun, 02/10/2013 - 6:45am

I've never seen offsetting fouls called with the yardage difference marked off. Every single time I've seen offsetting penalties, they have completely offset regardless of the difference in yardage.

by Sifter :: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 5:22pm

Yay, I finally made it to the end of the thread! One thing about Audibles...it certainly does start discussions. Just 2 points to mention that weren't really addressed heavily: 1) Funny that this* happens to Jim Harbaugh who I consider to be an officials nightmare. The only time he's apparently not whining to officials is when he's talking into his headset. Karma's a bitch Jim, is all I'd say to him. John isn't a massive improvement of course, but just sayin...

*by 'this' I don't mean to confirm the idea that the 49ers were shafted by the last call/game as a whole. I liked, or at least understood, the no call at the end, especially considering there was plenty of grabbing by both teams.

2) The argument about refs swallowing their whistles in playoffs. I often think it's a bad idea to have one set of rules for regular season, one for playoffs. But in this particular game? Not so much. Look at the scoreboard, look at the yards gained. Offenses were already doing well, DESPITE the wrestling going on downfield. Imagine a lot of that holding being called and suddenly we're into track meet territory with teams moving up and down the field at will. One thing a good reffing team should keep in mind is not only: a) consistency; but b) balance between offense and defense. I think they succeeded on both counts: helping out the D a bit by not calling all that contact, and their consistency was pretty good for both teams. The unmentioned one: c) enforcing the rules by the rulebook was a weak point, but when you have a) and b) on your side, it's much more understandable.

Oh and only one guy mentioned the fake field goal! Great prediction from Aaron from the preview article.

by bengt (not verified) :: Wed, 02/13/2013 - 4:16am

What is this end of the thread you are talking about?