This quote was passed along in the comments section of our original post on the play last night. You 49ers fans know it as the non-call that will be the source of all your anger until next fall. Or maybe the next time your team is on the winning side of such a call.
But it deserves to be highlighted and elaborated on a bit further, because although Michael Crabtree was quite clearly upset at not getting the pass interference call, he spoke some serious truth about a much larger reason for why no yellow hanky fell on the field during the 49ers’ final — and failed — offensive play.
Firstly, Crabtree said the kinds of things you expect a receiver who came, oh, about a foot short of making a game-winning play in the Super Bowl to say. Kevin Dyson feels you, brah.
He said he was held by Jimmy Smith, and therefore a call should have been made.
“[The referee] missed two or three in the game but that was it right there, the Super Bowl was right there.
“I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to think about it. I don’t know, man. What do you think? I thought it was holding.”
That part of Crabtree’s post game quotes is understandably getting a lot of attention today. But the spotlight isn’t shining nearly as brightly on these words…
“I mean, it felt like there was a lot of contact. I don’t even want to say this, but if the ball had been a little lower, giving me a chance to make a play, I’m sure they would’ve called it. But it happened like that, man. I’ve got a lot of confidence in my offensive line and quarterback; we fought back. It was a comeback, and we gave it our all.”
There were many elements to the failed fade connection between Crabtree and Colin Kaepernick that was defended by Smith, most notably the fact that the contact was mutual, with Crabtree attempting to set himself up to push off and create separation before heading to the back corner of the end zone. But there was another very major failing.
The ball was overthrown. Not dramatically, but enough so that a catch was, at best, difficult. A throw of that nature will make a referee extremely hesitant to call a pass interference or holding penalty, because then he’s inserting himself even more into the outcome of a play.
When pass interference is called, the referee is essentially saying that he thinks the defender impeded or restricted the receiver’s ability to make a play. But when the ball is thrown in such a manner that a successful play is unlikely, a call is equally unlikely. In this scenario, the unspoken words from the official are then something like this: “sure, there was contact, but you wouldn’t have caught the ball anyway…oh also, tell your sister she left her watch on my night stand.”
I probably made that last part up.
UPDATE: This is sort of a pretty big deal too…
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.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 4, 2013