A botched call late in the 4th...
January 19, 2002 8:43 PM   Subscribe

A botched call late in the 4th... and now New England is in the AFC championship game. A hometown call?
posted by msposner (45 comments total)
hometown or not, it was the wrong call
posted by howa2396 at 8:47 PM on January 19, 2002

another NFL classic. snow at foxboro. 4th quarter comeback. a botched call?

it seems like the right call according to the rules. hand going forward, ball never 'tucked', period. botched rules in my opinion, clearly Brady was not throwing the ball.

presents an argument against instant reply. 98% of nfl history would have the raiders in the AFC championship game. i really like reply, but can't understand how often they reverse what seem to be obvious calls to me, esp given the burden is on "conclusive" evidence to chnage the call that made on the field.
posted by danOstuporStar at 8:52 PM on January 19, 2002

It's not a hometown call. He was calling it by the rules
at the time. Perhaps the rules need to be changed to
account for this particular situation, but as it was, there
is nothing untoward about this call.
posted by greasepig at 8:53 PM on January 19, 2002

I'm a Niner fan, but that call blows, da Raiders got screwed big time.
posted by brucewc at 8:53 PM on January 19, 2002

unless the rules go against what the announcer was saying, then it was a bad call
posted by howa2396 at 8:54 PM on January 19, 2002

By NFL rules, the call was not "botched." Like danOstuporStar said, the ball was not tucked, and Brady's arm was still in motion even if it wasn't a throw...

and I am not a fan of either team...
posted by da5id at 8:55 PM on January 19, 2002

I'm glad dan0stuporStar described the alleged-botched play, but it should have been in the FPP.

posted by jacobw at 8:56 PM on January 19, 2002

I didn't know the Announcers were reffing the game? And since when did announcers know all the rules and how to interpretate them?
posted by da5id at 8:56 PM on January 19, 2002

I think it was a bad call. The replay is supposed to be conclusive to overturn the call on the field (that it was a fumble), and the replays were not conclusive. In fact, several of the replay angles made it look like the initial call was correct to begin with.

However, the Raiders deserved to lose. Bad calls are part of the game. If you're a championship team, you don't let a bad call decide the game, and the Raiders did. They blew a 13-3 fourth quarter lead, they didn't run the clock out in the fourth, and they didn't make tackles in overtime.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:57 PM on January 19, 2002

CBS said in post game that the high-ranking league official explained the situation to them.

it's definately a conspiracy against chuckie.
posted by danOstuporStar at 8:59 PM on January 19, 2002

anybody find gruden's comments yet? where they might get online first?
posted by danOstuporStar at 8:59 PM on January 19, 2002

Raiders choked, but the call was foul. Funniest moment was Phil Simms getting socked by a snowball.
posted by owillis at 9:13 PM on January 19, 2002

"Just win, baby!"
posted by mrhappy at 9:17 PM on January 19, 2002

the Raiders deserved to lose

that's the kind of devastating break that it becomes obvious how things will turn out. the cali raiders had the guts to beat down the patriots in their element. then every thing went New Egland's way in the 4th. how many snowy bounces ended in Patten's hands? finally this call was the dagger in the heart. how can the raiders, players tho they are, get up after that? like i said though...a great game, new england wins, such is life.

owillis is rite, another great moment ~> Late in the game, a fan hit one of the television announcers with a snowball, and he dutifully gave the play-by-play to the TV audience. ``Somebody just hit me with a snowball, and I see who did it,'' he said angrily.

i'm sorry, i'll shut up now.
posted by danOstuporStar at 9:17 PM on January 19, 2002

I'm a Bills fan and have no love for either team. The call was (IMHO) incorrect, but that's the way it goes sometimes.
posted by revbrian at 9:21 PM on January 19, 2002

Funniest moment was Phil Simms getting socked by a snowball.

He really sounded pissed, and for a second I thought he was going to go after the guy.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:21 PM on January 19, 2002

the football gods are not yet done punishing the raiders for moving to los angeles.
posted by lescour at 9:46 PM on January 19, 2002

I think the Raiders deserved to lose because, as mentioned before, they played some horrible D late in the game. I thought the call was poor, and inconclusive evidence-wise. Just as big was the Raiders inability to get the 1st down on the 3rd and 1 play.

I also remembered the Raiders getting screwed on that other rule (last year?) where the defender intercepted the ball but was tackled in the end zone for a safety, a rule that was subsequently changed.

I just think it's too bad. I think the Pats will lose the championship game where the Raiders would have had a better chance. When all is said and done, though, the Raiders lost. Simple as that.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:47 PM on January 19, 2002

The NFL hates Al Davis, because he has stood his ground against them over the years, especially when they had to pay him 18 Million dollars from an antitrust suit in 1983. The hatred began when Al was Commissioner of the American Football League (AFL). It's payback, and that is the way any rich dictatorship reacts to dissent. Probably didn't help too much when he snatched the Vince Lombardi Trophy out of Pete Rozelle's hand and shined him on after Super Bowl XVIII.
posted by Mack Twain at 10:06 PM on January 19, 2002

BS call. Also got hosed in the first on the first drive, as that was clearly a first down and then a horrible spot, after which they still tried to charge 'em a timeout. Horrible officiating througout.
posted by dig_duggler at 10:09 PM on January 19, 2002

Disclosure: I'm from Boston, but I'm a traitor. I've never been a big fan of the Pats, and I was rooting for Oakland (Jerry Rice is my god).

The call was absolutely correct, according to the rules. The rule says that if the QB's arm is going forward, even if he's not throwing, it's an incomplete pass. That's all it says. The replay showed enough to overturn the call on the field because his arm was conclusively going forward. But... This is a case where the rule is bullshit, as Brady wasn't throwing (he was actually about to tuck it away, I think), and the hit caused the ball to come out.

In any case, I've always maintained that officials don't win or lose games. You get a questionable call, that's part of the game. The call didn't lose the game for Oakland. Giving up 3 scores in 8 minutes did.
posted by jpoulos at 10:20 PM on January 19, 2002

Bad call, my ass! The official rules of the NFL, namely "Protection of Passer" 1. & 2.:
1. By interpretation, a pass begins when the passer -- with possession of ball -- starts to bring his hand forward. If ball strikes ground after this action has begun, play is ruled an incomplete pass. If passer loses control of ball prior to his bringing his hand forward, play is ruled a fumble.

2. When a passer is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional movement forward of his arm starts a forward pass. If a defensive player contacts the passer or the ball after forward movement begins, and the ball leaves the passer’s hand, a forward pass is ruled, regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player.

Brady's arm was going forward, he still had control of the ball, then he was hit. Admittedly, he was moving it forward to tuck it back into his gut, and another half second before the hit and he probably doesn't fumble at all. But that much is irrelevent: the rules clearly state that any intentional forward motion of the arm is by definition the start of a forward pass; he was hit in the shoulder during the forward motion while he still had control. Hence, the play was a forward pass and not a fumble- the right call is an incomplete pass, second down New England. The rest of the game is history, or at least until next week when the Steelers knock New England right into a few months' vacation. :)

While it was surprising that he made the call, it was the right call following the rules as they are written. Regardless, this was an exciting, snow-filled game that went into overtime, the kind where one team has to leave the field as the victor but no one clearly "won" the game. It could have gone either way, and as kirkaracha noted above, you only deserve to win if it's never close enough to be decided by a single play or call. Besides, Brady freakin' owned the fourth quarter, and Oakland let that one slip away. :)
posted by hincandenza at 10:21 PM on January 19, 2002

jpoulos and hincandenza: looks like we agree that the call didn't cost the Raiders the game, but we disagree about the conclusiveness of the replay. In at least two of the angles it looked to me like he moved his arm forward, then brought it backwards, and then the ball got knocked out. So his arm had gone forward, but by the time he got hit he had brought it back. It doesn't seem like "indisputable visual evidence" to me.

And that's what we need. The call on the field was that it was a fumble, so the replay has to indisputably show enought evidence to overturn the call. Since I'm disputing it, it was a bad call.

and hincandenza: thanks for doing the homework (I was looking for the rules last week but couldn't find them on the NFL's incredibly poorly organized site.)
posted by kirkaracha at 10:44 PM on January 19, 2002

Officials make bad calls every game, but they make an equal amount of bad calls for each team. Period.
posted by Mark at 10:56 PM on January 19, 2002

Officials make bad calls every game, but they make an equal amount of bad calls for each team. Period.

Methinks Bills fans would argue otherwise.
posted by owillis at 11:45 PM on January 19, 2002

By rule, once the forward motion is begun, even if it might have been a fake, loss of the ball isn't a fumble until after the quarterback has the ball tucked back against their body. Just a few months ago this happened with Warner against the Bucs:


I think it's a stupid rule... once the arm is moving back to the body, the ball should be fair game.
posted by fncll at 12:10 AM on January 20, 2002

bad call, no doubt about it. The call on the field should have stood because it was not conclusive what happened in the replay. Raiders got hosed.
posted by chaz at 1:19 AM on January 20, 2002

Bad call or not, New England is Gay, Gay Gay!
posted by zenhues at 2:15 AM on January 20, 2002

C'mon. I can't feel too sorry about the Raiders having what was probably the correct call hurt them a little. I've been through worse. In fact, as a St. Louis Cardinals fan who relocated to Kansas City in 1985, I suffered through the worst call ever - http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/worstcalls/010730.html. And, as a Mizzou grad, I suffered through the second worst ever, too.
posted by kcmoryan at 6:28 AM on January 20, 2002

Sorry, kcmoryan, but the worst call ever was Fred Swearingen calling pass interference on Benny Barnes in Super Bowl XIII.

As for this call, I'm with the people who think it's a bad rule that was correctly officiated.
posted by rcade at 7:30 AM on January 20, 2002

I think we should wait for the Florida recount.
posted by Mick at 8:18 AM on January 20, 2002

So the lesson here is that all quarterbacks should pump fake right after the snap and never retuck the ball. Voila..no QB fumbles..
posted by srboisvert at 9:26 AM on January 20, 2002

I'm a lifelong Raider fan, but after cooling off I grudgingly agree that it was the correct application of a bad rule. Was the replay evidence conclusive enough to overturn the call on the field? No, but I'm biased. The Raiders let themselves get into a situation where one play could prove so costly, much as they did in each of their close losses down the stretch. Championship-caliber teams find a way to win games like this. They just didn't seem to have the same knack for pulling out close games that they had last season, even though I believe they were more talented this year. The key for next year will be to raise the talent level on defense, especially at linebacker. I guess I'll root for Pittsburgh, now. I can't believe I just wrote that!
posted by gimli at 9:48 AM on January 20, 2002

danOstuporStar: I saw the replay, and it was not a snowball. It was, in fact, a sno-cone. Phil Simms' head was moving forward at the time, but his call, IMO, was incorrect. Phil Simms was robbed!
posted by rusty at 10:06 AM on January 20, 2002

And unlike the Worst Calls of All Time, such as Vinny Testaverde's phantom touchdown in the 98-99 season against the Seahawks (which altered the lead in the game and kept the Seahawks out of the playoffs on one single clearly bad call), this particular call was a bad rule called correctly that didn't make much difference. If he had successfully tucked the ball and not fumbled, or made a more convincingly incomplete pass, it just would have been a loss of yardage and/or second down.

The Raiders still had plenty of opportunities to stop the ball after that play, keep them out of field goal range or turn over the ball again. They couldn't do that, and thus this one play doesn't really matter.
posted by hincandenza at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2002

Another Bills fan here. Remember New England got a lousy (but the league said correct) call in their game at Buffalo this year. In overtime, David Patten fumbled and rookie cornerback Nate Clements recovered for the Bills at their 41.

Initially ruled a fumble, referee Mike Carey determined by a video review that Patten's head was out of bounds while he was still in contact with the ball. Pats keep the ball and end up winning the game. Maybe they are a team of destiny?

A good article about the replay system.
posted by Macboy at 5:12 PM on January 20, 2002


Dude, as one Silver & Black Attack cultist to another, let me remind you of the bylaw which states that under no circumstances are you permitted to cheer on teams from Pittsburgh, Denver, or Seattle. To do so is to risk excommunication from the society of your peers [grunt] [snort].

revisit the oracle:
The autumn wind is a pirate...
posted by Bixby23 at 6:34 PM on January 20, 2002

Wouldn't common sense say that once the QB's other hand touches the ball, that it is not obviously a pass? I did not see the game, but from the pictures my Uncle showed me today, it was clearly not a pass. If it isn't a pass, how can there be an incomplete pass?

Brady may have attempted to pass, but brought his arm down (that was painfully obvious in all the screens I saw) to protect the ball from a fumble. At this point there is no pass, but a fumble. Simple. Clear. Common sense.

I'm no NFL fanatic that knows every rule, but if someone looks for a rule about pass fakes and similar thing, I garuntee you'll find this was an incorrect call by the rules.

Actually, I just cheked the rules myself...

Ok, keep in mind the Brady touched the ball with his other hand.

1. A forward pass may be touched or caught by any eligible receiver
2. An offensive team may make only one forward pass during each play from scrimmage
3. The rules concerning a forward pass and ineligible receivers:
(a) If ball is touched accidentally by an ineligible receiver on or behind his line: loss of down.
(b) If ineligible receiver is illegally downfield: loss of five yards.
(c) If touched or caught (intentionally or accidentally) by ineligible receiver beyond the line: loss of 10 yards or loss of down.

Ok, so he tried to pass the ball. I'll give him that one (I may be giving it, but he doesn't deserve it, see why below) as a freebie. But the moment his other hand touched the ball from the foward pass then he is considered a receiver. Now, the passer can not be a receiver. Being an ineligable receiver behind line of scrimage he should have gotten a loss of down. Being I didn't see the game, and for some reason no score sheets reference which down this occurred on, I would have to assume it was not on 4th down. None the less, it would be a loss of down. That's the only way I could see the not being a fumble, but it is still in favor of the Raiders going by the book.

You could argue that it wasn't a pass, but then if he wasn't passing, then the fumble call would stick like glue and then it would be Oakland ball.

Was the reversal warranted, no. Was it a hometown call? We may never know.

"Uh...," Brady said when questioned. "You know, he hit me. I wasn't sure. Yeah, I was throwing the ball. How do you like that? Damn right. Damn right."

But the Patriots had one last chance thanks to instant replay and, after reviewing the play in which Brady appeared to pull the ball down and then fumble, Coleman inexplicably ruled it an incomplete pass.

in·ex·pli·ca·ble (n-kspl-k-bl, nk-splk-bl)
Difficult or impossible to explain or account for.

Several minutes before the game-winning field goal was struck by Adam Vinatieri, the score already was up on the big scoreboard in the Patriots' end zone: Patriots 16, Raiders 13.

posted by JakeEXTREME at 8:25 PM on January 20, 2002

JakeEXTREME, I think you're reading too much of a conspiracy into this. The call was the correct technical call, if by a stupid rule, and I for one never saw the left hand touch it (except maybe after it was knocked loose).

Also, RE: the premature 16 to 13 score; I noticed that too when watching the game, and thinking "WTF?!" But I'm sure it was just an overeager scoreboard operator. I recall in painful detail when the 1986 Red Sox were one strike away from winning Game 6 and the World Series before that improbable comeback, the scoreboard at Shea Stadium briefly flashed "Congratulations World Champion Boston Red Sox".
posted by hincandenza at 11:32 PM on January 20, 2002

Screwed in the Snow! The rule would be fine if Brady hadn't touched the ball with his other hand.

Never have I seen a bigger Screwjob by the NFL over Al Davis in my life. The refs on the field Made The Call Beautifully, then the unnamed, unseen officials were able to overrule it because it was a play in the last two minutes.

I am kicking myself for supporting Instant Replay, which, if it hadnt existed, woulnt have been the NFLs way to ruin the Raiders.

No one on the field thought it was anything but a fumble. No one.

Because the Raiders would have gotten the ball back with a little over a minute left, the game would have been over with that play. And because of that, if the NFL had any integrity they would give the game to the Raiders, who won that game. But that will never happen.

Such a beautifully played game in a storybook setting crushed by politics and a poorly written rule whose spirit was bastardized.

What we saw was not an attempted forward pass.

What we all saw was a fumble.

The NFL has made a terrible mistake, too bad they aren't classy enough to rectify it.
posted by tsarfan at 11:35 PM on January 20, 2002

Clearly, it was a tuck. Brady was hit the moment his throwing hand brought the ball back down into the other hand. This is not baseball with "tie goes to the runner."

posted by jacques67 at 11:58 PM on January 20, 2002

Clearly it was not a tuck, as a tuck in this case only occurs when the ball is between the passer's arm and body, not merely when the passer's other hand touches the ball. Many QBs pat the ball with their non-passing hand several times before releasing the pass, and those pats are not considered tucks, and this one should not be either.

Personally, I'll defer to Ditka and Glanville -- they both agree that the call was correct in light of the current rules, but that the rules require review and clarification.

It's all moot anyway. There is no way that the lucked-out Pats nor the last-minute folding Raiders could hold against the #1 defense in the league. The Steelers shall shut New England down next Sunday, and they would have shut down Oakland if the result in Foxboro had been different.
posted by Dreama at 2:03 AM on January 21, 2002

Many QBs pat the ball with their non-passing hand several times before releasing the pass

But you don't pat the ball in your final foward movement. We all know that would be stupid if we/they/you/I did that because the trajectory would be goofed.

As far as if the Raiders would beat the Steelers, I don't know I'm not a footbal fan.

Rules seem simple enough to me. It was a fumble. The call was incorrectly reversed. Keep in mind, I'm not saying that call is what caused the Raiders to lose, and I'm not saying they would win if it went the their way. I'm just saying the call was incorrect. Even the QB thought it was a fumble until the Ref reversed it, come one.
posted by JakeEXTREME at 5:56 AM on January 21, 2002

Although I fail to see how a pass that never happened can be ruled incomplete and I was really rooting for the Raiders, I'll just shrug and accept the outcome, since it means an even easier road for Pittsburgh to get to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XXXVI: St Louis Rams 28, Pittsburgh Steelers 31.

(OK, I'm dreamin', the Rams will probably kill 'em, but I can HOPE, can't I?)

I'll bet that rule gets an overhaul in the off-season, too.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:38 AM on January 21, 2002

tsarfan: Because the Raiders would have gotten the ball back with a little over a minute left, the game would have been over with that play. And because of that, if the NFL had any integrity they would give the game to the Raiders, who won that game. But that will never happen.

Gee, unless the Patriots got the ball back with an interception or a fumble by the Raiders. See, they actually play out the game so that we don't have to speculate on woulda-coulda-shouldas. We don't know that the Raiders would have won, but the game was fair, the call was fair, and the Raiders lost. Deal with it.

Stop whining- the call was technically accurate and fair, and the freakin' Raiders could have easily stopped the Pats on the next two downs to prevent even the field goals. This wasn't a call that gave the Pats a field goal or touchdown where there wasn't one before- it basically just didn't award a change of possession in addition to the sack. The Pats gained no yardage on the play, and it was 2nd and 10 after that and the Raiders couldn't prevent a 13-yard pass to put the Pats in field goal range. Nor could they stop the Patriots in OT to even get the ball at all as they drove mercilessly to a 28-yard punt. The failure was far more than one technically accurate call you don't like.
posted by hincandenza at 5:46 PM on January 21, 2002

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