Archived Story

NFL referees made the right call

Published 9:06am Wednesday, February 6, 2013

No football fan wants a Super Bowl championship decided by a referee’s whistle. It should come down to athleticism.

The crew officiating the Super Bowl on Sunday made the right no-call on the San Francisco 49ers’ final attempt to beat the Baltimore Ravens. It was fourth down and five yards to the goal. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick tossed a fade to the corner to wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who was impeded by Baltimore cornerback Jimmy Smith.

Defenders are allowed to jam receivers within five yards of the line of scrimmage. The coach of the 49ers (and just about the entire 49ers fanbase) contends Smith committed pass interference by touching Crabtree after five yards and furthermore held him by clutching his jersey slightly.

However, pass interference works both ways. Crabtree shoved Smith after the five-yard mark. Both were all over each other. When that happens, the referees don’t throw a flag because they would offset anyway and merely delay the game.

Moreover, the referees made many no-calls during the big game. For instance, on the final Baltimore drive, a penalty easily could have been called on the 49ers for a late hit on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. That would have extended the Baltimore drive.

Good officiating is often judged by consistency. If refs call a game tightly, then there are more flags. If they call it loosely — often called “letting the players play” — then it is deemed poor officiating to suddenly call the game tight at the end. Throwing a flag on the last key play would’ve been inconsistent with how the officiating crew had called the entire game.

We say: Good job, NFL referees. That was a good game.