We’ll be debating this sequence until next fall, so let’s get a head start now.

The details: the 49ers were down by five points. They had the ball on Baltimore’s five-yard line, with 1:50 remaining in the fourth quarter, and only one timeout. It was either score a touchdown, or end the season. Colin Kaepernick threw a fade to the back of the end zone in the direction of Michael Crabtree, who was then impeded by Jimmy Smith. Or was he?

I’ve never hated myself more than what I do at this very moment, but I actually find myself agreeing with Phil Simms here. Unless there’s absolutely egregious pass interference that ends in the receiver getting tackled and/or mauled, the officials would very much like to avoid making a call that will alter the result of a Super Bowl, and therefore NFL history.

That’s what happened here, and it’s why Jim Harbaugh did this…

Comments (38)

  1. It was clearly illegal contact, a call that needs to be made way more often

  2. I think the left arm is obvious evidence.

  3. Isn’t Jim Harbaugh the biggest baby?

  4. Technically, yes, it was holding. But everyone in the sports world knows you can’t expect to get calls that are even remotely questionable when the game is on the line.

  5. I’m more pissed about the play calling in the redzone than the blown call.

  6. What about the no call on the kickoff return..?…that should have been flagged…ball on the 15.

  7. You’re joking right? So, just because it’s near the end of the game, the refs shouldn’t throw a flag when someone commits a penalty? It’s not the ref altering the course of the game, it’s the player who broke the rule.

    • Referees are human, and as such, they’ll often subconsciously make the more conservative decision in a case when an infraction isn’t blatantly obvious in real-time.

      Also, the contact between Smith and Crabtree was mostly mutual. You can just as easily argue that Crabtree pushed off as the play developed.

      • Any kind of pushing off was Crabs just trying to get the guy to stop tackling him.

        • Crabtree knew the ball was going to the corner, and was trying to create space by staying “in” until the last possible moment, and then (lightly) pushing off to make the play. Call it handfighting, whatever, it wasn’t interference… the contact was mutual

          • Greg, go back and watch the final drive against denver where jones gets past rahim moore for the touchdown to tie it up. on a crucial down there was a ton less contact and it got called, costing the broncos the game. The reality is baltimore was gifted many times in the playoffs. Take a look back, quite a few superbowl winners either got there or won through straight up wrong calls. The humanity of the sports(including that of the referee’s) is what makes us want to watch. Life ain’t fair and neither is football. It was holding, but for the 9ers fans, they really did get away with one. Neither of these teams played like superbowl deserving teams, if there were more games in a series like every other sport, it would be more fair, but luck is part of the game. Any given sunday.

  8. But the refs no call did alter the result of the game. It’s not cool when the refs decide the outcome.

    I agree with DG. Penalty not called just cuz it’s was at the end of the game is bs.

    Also why was the roughing the kicker penalty on Akers not a 15 yard penalty? It would’ve given the niners a first down.

    • Did you watch the play on Akers? Great acting job … never was touched, so be thankful for the do-over. Never should have been called as a running into a kicker — forget about roughing!!

      • It’s not just contact made by the defender that counts. When he dives underneath the kicker when he still has his leg in the air is where the penalty is caused, because whether akers was acting or not, his options are fall gently (the option he chose) or land on the defender and risk buckling or otherwise hurting his leg. Watch the replay, you can’t tell me that akers had anywhere to go. It was questionable whether it was a 5 or 15 yard penalty, but it is not questionable that it was a penalty.

  9. We see this every week in the NFL and its rightly become a no-call. Crabtree himself was also clearly pushing off and so a no-call is warranted.

    I don’t believe Niners fan should really be whining about this call considering the missed call for the late hit on Flacco on the Ravens’ last drive. The game would have ended right there had the right call been made.

  10. The ref and his crew were MIA for most of the game – a ton of missed/blown calls, especially pass interference. This was one of the more obvious ones, and if I were a betting man, I would gladly wager that this ref and crew will not be seen in another Super Bowl or even playoff game.

  11. There were holds all throughout the game not to mention an insane helmet to helmet that should have been called and would have been called if it were Raven’s Ed Reed or Ray lewis were making the tackle. To say the superbowl was decided by a hold is a little much. If you want to win dont be down 28-6 at the half.

  12. I’m not a 9ers fan so don’t accuse me of whining.. but apparently ALL holding penalties went out the window in the last minute.. how about the intentional safety which ran 8 seconds off of the clock where there was about 6 or 7 defenders hanging on for dear life to let the time run down.. It doesn’t matter – 9ers probably still would have lost, but it is a little hilarious to watch the replay of that moment.

    • Either way on that play had the referees called the hold, it would’ve had to have been declined anyways and the Ravens knew it. Because even if San Fran decides to accept all of the holds, the ball would only be placed as close and/or half the distance to the goal line and the Ravens would’ve been able to do the exact same thing but this time they’d be able the run out the last 4 seconds off the clock. A penalty called on a play does not negate the time that ran off the clock in that play, hence why the Ravens did what they did and why the referees didn’t bother to call it. Would’ve had to have been declined anyways

      • I’m just trying to be clear. You’re saying San Fran would have declined the penalty and not taken the ball half the distance to the goal along with a new set of downs?

      • Holding in the end zone is a safety anyway. Same result same time run off the clock!!

        • I think you guys have it backwards. Are you talking about defensive holding? Defensive holding is 5 yards and automatic first down. Offensive holding results in a safety if it happens in your own endzone, not your opponents endzone.

          • Dave, holding does not result in turnover on downs, it would have been ravens ball, replay 4th down. very very smart play from the ravens coaches, especially for such a rare play

          • Please show me where I said turnover on downs at all. If the penalty of holding was called against the RAVENS it would have been 1ST DOWN. Jesus fucking christ

  13. You can’t let a call like that go. Crucial game-changing plays can not be cheated.

  14. So long as the refs’ actions were consistent with how this instance is usually treated, then it’s good. I didn’t watch a lot of nfl this season but if the referees don’t *usually* make this kind of call then what can be said. Can someone tell me if this interference is usually overlooked?

  15. Anyone notice Suggs being held on multiple plays? Maybe if those hold never happened Suggs gets the sac and the 49ers never gain momentum again. Anyone notice recievers from both teams battling in the first 5 yards and doing thier best to get a push? Every play in football is potentially momentum changing. You cant pretend the last play of the game and only the last play was the deciding factor. Crabtree engaged in contact and was trying to get a push if you watch his right arm, smith engaged in contact and gave crabtree’s jersey a tug. If Smith had played the play clean it could be Ravens fans begging for a flag. Bottom line being this example and many others were happening on both sides of the field alllllll game.

  16. A play like that in a game like that, it would be very tough for a ref to throw a flag on that play. Probably holding and he was just a step away from catching that ball (which is crazy considering how fast he had to throw that thing).

    The real reason they lost wasnt because of the non-call but because of the play calling on that series. No runs after Gore busted loose? where was Fred Davis in the End Zone? the 9ers hurt themselves before this play even happened

  17. when i look at the replay i wonder if the ball was catchable. i don’t think it was (too far out of bounds) and that’s why no call was made.

    • It was a perfect ball. Crabtree’s pretty tall and can reach pretty high… the ball was excellent

    • The ball looked catchable. The contact was made as he was in the process of stretching out his arms to catch the ball. I think he catches that ball if there isn’t contact. Perfectly placed fade by Kaepernick though.

    • NFL receivers make catches like this on the regular…

    • “It came down to the last play,” said Crabtree. “It was a lot of contact … but I don’t even want to say this, but if the ball was a little lower to give me a chance to make a play, I’m sure they would have called it. But it happened like that, man.

      ––this says to me Crabtree himself wasn’t sure he could make it. although it might also be interpreted as a suggestion that if he got a touch on it, the call would definitely have been made.

  18. At first view I tought the contact was mutual but once I saw a replay I was blown away that a flag wasn’t thrown. Smith held Crabtree from the 3 to at least 2 yards into the end zone and only let him go because he started to fall down. Also at first glance I didn’t think Crabtree had a chance at catching the ball but he clearly would’ve got it. Disappointing end to a disappointing game.

  19. I understand this whole article is dedicated to the no call, but it shouldn’t have even come to that. San Fran went up the field very quickly on a nice pass play and then a 33 yard run from Gore to get to the 5. After that, the play calling was atrocious. There was over 2 minutes left and I know they had at least one timeout. You’re telling me that after moving down the field about 55-60 yards in 2 plays, you can’t move 5 yards with 4 downs and a timeout and the 2 minute warning?

    Jim Harbaugh is a good coach for getting his team to the SuperBowl, but the play calling in last two minutes was garbage. The fact that he lobbed up a fade to the back of the endzone on 4th down is absolutely ridiculous. The last play doesn’t really matter, and if there had been a penalty I would have been disappointed because San Fran didn’t deserve the benefit of referee help. They blew it on the three previous plays.

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