We heard from several league insiders today regarding the blown spot in the Bengals-Ravens game. (Here’s the background.)
And they had a few questions, the answers to which we thought might
help us fill space be of interest to you, the audience.
First, some wondered how the play — a five-yard gain that was wiped out after replay review determined that receiver Mark Clayton did not fumble the ball — was recorded in the official play-by-play account. Here’s the explanation from the official Game Book: “J.Flacco pass short right to M.Clayton to BLT 20 for -1 yards (C.Ndukwe). Cincinnati challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was Upheld. (Timeout #2.)”
So, contrary to the belief that replay review determined that the pass had been incomplete, it wasn’t. The pass was complete, and the five-yard gain became a one-yard loss once the ball was spotted.
Second, we were asked who screwed the thing up — the referee (who conducts the replay reviews), the replay booth, or someone else.
“It’s the responsibility of the entire crew to correctly maintain the downs, distance, spot, etc.,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora told us via e-mail. “That said, the umpire is the official in charge of physically placing the ball in the proper spot. He gets the spot by looking at the head linesman on one side of the field or the line judge on the other, both of whom are tracking the spot as part of their responsibilities.”
So, basically, the head linesman and/or the field judge should have kept their eyes on the spot of the ball through the replay review, and they should have told the umpire to spot the ball at the spot where Clayton was tackled.
Instead, the ball wasn’t even placed at the prior spot. It was parked on the 20.
Thus, it makes no sense. And while some might argue that the Ravens should have caught the error immediately, others may contend that the Ravens are entitled to presume that the officiating crew will be able to conduct properly such a basic function.