Well this has been the most interesting week yet in the brief time I have covered the NFL. It started with a Sunday full of crazy games, which resulted in a nice stat of the week I jumped on first after the New England loss.
Then Monday night came, bringing in the biggest overreaction to a correct call in NFL history. But this wasn’t about injustice as much as it was scorn for the replacement referees, and the only positive is it did end the lockout.
But the controversial Golden Tate Hail Mary touchdown is a classic example of groupthink and media manipulation. How one views this play really separates the sheep from people willing to think for themselves and not be influenced by Jon Gruden’s second-half disgust, which is an entertaining thought because he still looks like a Chucky doll.
At the very least, any objective person should see this was too close of a call to make in real time for anyone, and that there’s no way you could have clearly called it an interception. It is completely understandable why they ruled what they did, and upon further analysis, it was the right call just as the NFL and that replacement referee have said.
So in writing the article, I tried to put as much as I could into it. That’s why I write long articles, as I try to cover all bases and leave little for anyone to nitpick over. But I will reply to a few of the same things I’m seeing in response to it on Twitter or in your e-mails. And no, I won’t use anyone’s name. Reaction has been 50/50, even though it seems like reaction to the call has been 90/10.
Well Allow Me To Retort
Worthless Picture – First, it is always easy to see which people actually read the article and which respond after reading only the headline. Anyone still trying to use this picture as proof of anything needs to get a clue.
This is several seconds after both players have landed on the ground. The catch was already over as all aspects of a catch have been satisfied (control and possession through the process of going to the ground). Just because the refs came in late doesn’t mean anything. This wasn’t a fumble and two players battling on the ground for the ball, in which refs will often let them fight it out. This was a (TD) catch.
Back judge – He never signaled touchback like some have said. That has a distinct motion — like a vertical spanking/tap that ass motion — which he never used. What the back judge even ruled was never going to be more reliable than the ref on the spot, because look how far away the back judge is at the moment both players have hit the ground:
He is barely past the goal post at this point. How could he possibly been able to tell who controlled the ball first? From the point of contact with the ball to this picture where the second foot hits for Jennings, a total of 0.7 seconds passed. Over three additional seconds pass before the back judge runs in to take a look at the players on the ground, which makes for a call from him that was never going to be conclusive or even confident.
Semantics – Lots of semantics mess again this week with control, possession and catch. I have seen people say simultaneous possession, even though the only thing in the rule book is “simultaneous catch.” I have heard comments from a ex-NFL referee talking about possession in the air, even though the NFL clearly said in their statement possession cannot happen in the air. A player must get two feet or an equivalent like a knee down to legally gain possession.
It is also indisputable that Tate gains possession first, but the most important part of the play comes at the very beginning.
Physics of the play – First let’s talk about control, since that is the common complaint.
You can control a ball with one hand. That was the point of the one-handed examples I used to refute the article from ProFootballTalk or Hochuli’s mumbo-jumbo about four arms. You do not need two hands/arms, and this Randy Moss TD is another nice example pointed out by @DeeepThreat. You can move your hand/arm off the ball (see Reggie Wayne) if you want, but as long as you have sustained control with one hand, it counts.
As for Tate, I have yet to see anyone explain this. First, let’s recall the fact Tate was in front of Jennings and should have been the first to contact the ball. I proved the ball made first contact with his left hand. Do not even try and say it hit Jennings’ right hand first, as that is just depth perception. If you watch the video in conjunction with making the frames, the ball hits Tate first, and it did much more than just touch him.
Why does the ball get stuck in the air at this point if Tate didn’t have control, or only had his fingertips on the ball? Go outside and have someone throw you a football and try to hold it up in the air without any real control or grip. It won’t happen. The ball will deflect off your hand. Any non-sticky object would if you don’t actually initiate some type of grip on it. Jennings only closed his hands around it after Tate stopped it in the air first for the play to even develop into a catch.
How else are you going to stop a football traveling roughly 45 yards in the air in 2.85 seconds if you didn’t initiate a good grip to control it?
This isn’t to say that you can’t grip an object with just your fingers. Having a big, strong hand would definitely help make it more possible.
Tate has a very interesting Twitter background pic that shows him hauling in a ball with his left hand on a more difficult looking play in practice. These guys get drafted high for a reason. They are great athletes capable of making tough catches.
Notice that Jennings does a horizontal close on the ball with his hands. It does not move backwards or fall forwards after Tate’s initial grab. That supports his grip of the ball. It’s not like Jennings had to keep the ball up from being deflected away incomplete. Tate controlled it. Watch most catches in football. The receiver’s initial contact with the ball is when he gets the grip on it, and it is possible to do so with one hand.
Less than a tenth of a second passes between Tate’s contact and Jennings’ close on the ball. If you are trying to judge this in real time, how could that not look simultaneous? Makes perfect sense why referee Lance Easley made the call he did.
Consider the initial contact Point A, and we know from the end of the play when Jennings struggles to wrestle the ball away from Tate that Tate has that grip with his left hand still on the ball (Point B). So where between Point A and Point B does Tate ever lose the ball from his left hand? No one has any evidence that he loses control. That is why this is a TD, because he maintained that control from the start of the play through the process of going to the ground.
Other criticisms – Some people talk about the ball being in Jennings’ chest. For starters, there is no rule that says you have to have the ball in your chest, so just ignore Steve Young’s revisionist, agenda-pushing history. More importantly, everyone who thinks this is ignoring the fact that Tate’s hand was in the way of his chest throughout the play. Pretty hard to pull something to your chest if a guy has his hand lodged in there the whole time.
The NFL would have admitted they blew the TD call and it should have been an interception if that was actually the case. They did admit the OPI, which also would have ended the game. People don’t think the NFL admits such game-changing errors, but the fact is they do. What they don’t do is change the final outcome because of one.
Listening to some people, you’d think Jennings caught it first and Tate just fingered the ball on the way down. Some of the reaction has just been embarrassing. Not sure how long this play will be in focus, but expect to hear about it more should the season continue going sour for Green Bay. But hopefully by that point people would just realize this game didn’t decide their season, and it was their disappointing play starting in Week 1 that was the real culprit.
Not a right call that Mike Tirico initially made himself in the heat of the moment, only to bash for the last 12 minutes of the broadcast.
Take emotion out of it, and you will understand why Seattle got the touchdown.
This Week’s Articles
Captain Comeback Week 3: What the Hell’s Going on Out There? – Cold, Hard Football Facts
After 12 games with a fourth quarter comeback opportunity, this was a jammed-packed edition of Captain Comeback. It has only received about 4,900 fewer Facebook likes than you know which article.
Crazy Season Even Affecting NFL’s Best Quarterbacks – NBC Sports
For the first time in 58 opportunities, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger all lost on Sunday. If that’s not enough, Week 2 (1-3) was their first losing week. It’s just a reflection of what’s been a crazy season so far.
New Orleans Saints’ Disastrous 0-3 Start Goes Well Beyond Sean Payton’s Absence – Bleacher Report
The Saints are 0-3, but before we give Sean Payton coach of the year in his absence, let’s call a spade a spade. Drew Brees is playing like an average quarterback at best, and the defense might be the worst in the league.
Following a Legend: Andrew Luck Week 3 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – Colts Authority
Luck came very close to his first 4QC, but a shocking 80-yard TD put that out of reach. Check the analysis of every drop back.
The Thinking Man’s Guide to NFL Week 4 – Bleacher Report
Included: the greatest 0-3 at 1-2 game ever, San Francisco’s Jet lag, must-win weekend for the century’s best quarterbacks, and no-huddle nuggets.
Shame on the Angry Mob: Golden Tate’s Touchdown Was Legit – Cold, Hard Football Facts
I just call it like I see it.
2012 NFL Week 4 Predictions
After an all-time worst 4-12 record in Week 3, it’s time for some redemption. Baltimore has started me off 1-0, but that was closer than it should have been.
Winners in bold:
- Panthers at Falcons
- Patriots at Bills
- Vikings at Lions
- Titans at Texans
- Chargers at Chiefs
- 49ers at Jets
- Seahawks at Rams
- Dolphins at Cardinals
- Raiders at Broncos
- Bengals at Jaguars
- Saints at Packers
- Redskins at Buccaneers
- Giants at Eagles
- Bears at Cowboys
- Week 1: 12-4
- Week 2: 11-5
- Week 3: 4-12
- Season: 27-21
You can keep e-mailing me if you want, but I am less likely to reply and really would like to move on from Monday night starting with Week 4 Sunday action. Believe it or not the season has continued. More bad calls will be made. A lot more bad plays that lead to losses will also happen. That’s football.