League’s new officiating guru defends key Super Bowl non-call

Dean Blandino wasn’t in charge of the league’s officials during Super Bowl XLVII.  But he is now, and he’s doing his best to explain away the decision not to throw a flag on Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith for defensive holding/pass interference against receiver Michael Crabtree on the key fourth and goal fade route on which the game turned.

“When you watch it at full speed, to me, it was a good non-call,” Blandino tells Bob Glauber of Newsday.

“I think the first thing you have to understand is that, once the ball is in the air, you can’t have defensive holding or illegal contact,” Blandino said.  “Now you have to see if the contact raised to the level of pass interference. . . .

“With pass interference, you have to materially affect the receiver’s ability to catch the pass,” Blandino added.  “Yes, there’s hand-fighting [between Smith and Crabtree], but Crabtree also has his hand on [Smith’s] helmet.  The pass was catchable, but the contact did not materially restrict Crabtree’s ability to catch the pass.  He was jockeying for position and using his hands as well.”

Though we agree that it was a good non-call, we disagree with Blandino’s explanation.  Viewed in isolation, Smith should have been flagged.  Under those circumstances, however, the flag gets pushed deeper into the pockets of the officials.  That’s just the way it is, and it helped the 49ers get to the Super Bowl in the first place.

Of course, it’s one thing for the officials to behave that way, and it’s quite another for the NFL to admit it.  Ideally, however, the officials wouldn’t hide behind the concept of “letting them play” in situations where it takes an extra level of cajones to call a foul.

42 responses to “League’s new officiating guru defends key Super Bowl non-call

  1. “but Crabtree also has his hand on [Smith’s] helmet.” so when you’re being held beyond 5-yards are you supposed to try and free yourself up to make a play or just wait for the flag to possibly be thrown?

    What kind of game are we striving for here–would Crabtree have had better luck taking a dive?

  2. Crabtree was pushing back just as much, including shoving the defender away by the helmet.
    Good no-call.

    Next time, the 49ers should stick to what got them there and run the ball in to where there’s no doubt, rather than having to hope and pray for the officials to decide the outcome of the Super Bowl on some ticky tack stuff.

  3. I hate the “let them play” and “the refs shouldn’t decide a game” excuses. If there is a foul, throw the stinking flag. A foul is a foul, 1st qtr, 4th qtr or overtime.

  4. Yes, Jimmy Smith’s hands are on the jersey around Crabtree’s waist. And Michael Crabtree’s hand is on Smith’s helmet, pushing him to the ground to achieve separation. Just like on the second down play Crabtree breaks off his route, takes a couple steps forward into the end zone, puts his hands on the DB’s chest, pushes off, and turns around to try to make a play. These plays could just as easily be called offensive interference as defensive. It was a good no-call.

    For the 49ers… I don’t understand how you don’t just try to run the ball in. Ngata’s out, you have three more cracks at it and you want to use up time so Baltimore can’t possibly drive back for a field goal. Just a terrible set of calls there.

  5. They audibled to a fade on 4th down for the go-ahead TD in the Super Bowl. A route they haven’t thrown well all year long. A pass with a relatively low success rate. It’s a pass you throw on first down. On top of that, they almost got a delay call again. They should have burned their final timeout, regrouped, and tired to score with their best short yardage play.

    I don’t blame not getting a call on the play, I blame the 49ers for not executing properly from the 5 on 4 plays. They will learn from it; it was Kap’s 10th start. Not bad.

    (BTW, the Atlanta play was a lot different, but I see your point and it really doesn’t matter. Blaming scared Super Bowl officials isn’t really going to make the loss any better for anyone. The crew was bad all game, but that’s football. Blaming officials is for losers, but it has it’s place at times. This isn’t really one of those times.)

  6. Meet Dean Blandino, Spinmeister Extraordinaire.

    Does anyone reading this believe that he’ll ever side against the referees?


  7. Most anti-dentites… I mean Ravenites seem to be ignoring the fact that the refs were calling it like that all game… On both teams. In a vacuum the call could have gone either way. The body of work suggests they gave both teams the same opportunities. It was the right call.

  8. Who is this clown? He’s too young to have been a referee. How can we take him seriously? Did he sleep with Goodhell to get this job?

  9. The bottom line for me is that this game wouldn’t have been close if the league had sorted out its electrical issues prior to gametime. So the final outcome shouldn’t be in dispute. But regardless, I don’t care what the new officiating guru thinks of calls made in past Super Bowls. I want to know whether he intends to improve the quality of officiating in the NFL to ensure we’re not having this conversation after future Super Bowls.

  10. How about the blatant non-call on the helmet to helmet shot on 3rd down of that same drive? That should’ve been an automatic 1st even before the subsequent DPI even took place.

  11. Crabtree didn’t need to run into Smith, that cost him time, all he had to do was juke once (maybe), go straight to the corner and concentrate on getting his tootsies down and not bobbling the ball. No call even in the second quarter.

  12. 60 Minutes Sports on Showtime had a great angle of this play, it was from the opposite side of the CBS camera ( The Ravens slideline).. in it you can clearly see Crabtree initiate the contact, running into Smith, then using his hands to push off, (left hand on the helmet)…Great no-call.

  13. I am not a fan of the Ravens or Niners. But as usual the NFL new head ref is spouting the usual BS. If that play happened in the regular season they would have called it interference. No question. I know for sure Super Bowl or not if it were the Raiders instead of the Ravens they would without question have called it pass interference. And if the refs on the field didn’t call it an NFL Official up high in one of the press boxes would have called down to the field and reversed it. BOOK IT.

  14. Mike Perreira was nothing but an apologist for the most horrid and worst calls made by refs for years, and his replacements have continued that fine tradition.

    No matter how bad, how outrageous or how wrong a call is the league will always claim it was correct.

    Whether or not Blandino is correct in this case he’d say the exact same thing either way. The league virtually never admits mistakes of any kind.

  15. there was no helmet to helmet the defendors arm hit the helmet. you guys pull out every excuse possible to try and diminish the victory. forever it will say 2013 ravens champs, no asterisk, nada. get over it.

  16. I’m not blaming the refs for the Niners’ loss. The Niners lost because they just weren’t ready for the Ravens in the first half and Greg Roman choked on the sequence of play calls down near the goal line at th end. However, the officiating in that game was pretty bad when you consider that the two most glaring non-calls took place near the ball. Everyone talks about the Crabtree non-call, but the no-call on the double-holding of Bruce Miller on the kickoff return TD was probably more of a difference-maker. Again, the loss lies on the 49ers’ shoulders, but seeing something that obvious not get called just drives me crazy, especially when it was the reason the lane opened up.

    As for the P.I., this is my personal opinion on how it should be called:
    Pushing should be allowed on either side- it’s football after all. Holding should not be allowed, ever. I know it’s not the rule, but I do think if the NFL is going to allow the players to compete for the ball, they need to have some discrepency between trying to gain separation by pushing and holding to avoid getting beat. Any scrub can hold.

  17. I don’t hear 49er fans complaining about the key 3 down play on the Ravens 4th quarter drive when Flacco got nailed to the ground 2 yards out of bounds. No flag there.

  18. get over it people, quit crying, you know, like the kicker who flopped to get the running into the kicker penalty

  19. I think Joe Flacco got handed the buisness out of bounds which should have drawn a flag, so fair is fair. Sometimes people say let the players play other times not. I guess it all depends on what side of the calls your team falls on

  20. It didn’t help the niners get into the Super Bowl. Bowman made contact within 5 yards, did not hold, and made a play on the ball (knocked it down, in fact). The plays are not even remotely analogus, and to imply they are exposes Florio as the poser he is.

  21. The 49ers had several shots to walk away with the W, but they couldn’t get it done. Kaepernick, who was a big reason for the team’s success during the regular season and post-season, was the true thorn in the thumb for the Niners. If Harbaugh would have stuck with the same gameplan that he used for Kaepernick all year long, then I’m sure we would have seen a different ending to the game. You could tell that Kaepernick was uncomfortable the whole game. Harbaugh should have trusted his gut instead of trying to fool his brother.

  22. Obviously he is going to try to defend the NFL, because they should be embarrassed by the officiating in that game. That is clearly pass interference, and yes Crabtree is pushing Smith off, but Smith initiated the contact by a bear hug, how does that not restrict a reciever from catching the ball? To me, the Reed being a full yard offsides no call was even worse, or the blatant hold by two ravens on the kick return that was returned for a touchdown. I’m not a 49ers or Ravens fan, but for a game (especially the Super Bowl) to be handed to a team because the refs are scared to throw a flag is ridiculous. As I said, the NFL should be embarrassed by the officiating in that game.

  23. Just like I figured, all the bitter winner Ravens fans. The world is not against you. You won, and there will be stories that have to elaborate on conspiracies that may or may not have happened. Get over it and don’t feel the need to post on all posts relating to the Super Bowl.

  24. With the reality that the flag is likely deeper in the refs pockets during this stage of such a key game, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate some of these penalties, particularly the result should the penalty be called. Given that live, it did look like Crabtree was doing quite a bit of pushing himself, and there is some debate (Pereira thought it wasn’t a penalty, and said so right at that time), giving the 49ers a 1st down in that situation would have been a disproportionate penalty. With pass interference, there should perhaps be a major/minor penalty. In this case, if there was indeed a penalty, it may have been more likely to be defensive holding, which an automatic first down seems an unfair result, particularly in this situation. Perhaps change defensive holding and illegal contact across the board (it often seems like an unfair result to award a first down on defensive holding and on illegal contact penalties) to just a yardage penalty and a replay of the down. If the yardage results in a first down on its own, then so be it.

  25. Some dope wrote:
    Burying the flag was the right call. 9er fan needs to get over it.

    It’s not Niner fans, dude, it’s anyone that subscribes to logic and reason. If the ref saw it and chose not to call it he’s consciously changing the rightful outcome of the Super Bowl and needs to be gone now.

  26. “Viewed in isolation Smith should have been flagged” said Florio. And then he moves along with the story without any justification whatsoever.

    Viewed in isolation it was a fair call to me.

    At least the new NFL head of referees provided justification for his opinion, unlike me, a Ravens fan and Florio, a Stillers fan.

  27. Awful non-call. Smith wasn’t allowed to touch him as soon as they crossed the goal line because it was beyond 5 yards at that point. He held him the whole way through. Yes, Crabtree pushed off, but they flag should have already been drawn for defensive holding by the time he even laid a finger on Smith.

    It was an awful no call, just like the pass interference on second down. Let’s not forget about the 10 holding penalties that should have been thrown during the Ravens’ fake punt. They ran an extra 6 seconds off of the clock because of that.

    That took away the 9ers one last chance to the end zone after the free kick.

  28. Know the game…Crabtree initiates contact with 5 yards…before he breaks five yards the ball is throw due to the blitzing Ellerbe…both players jockeying for the ball with Smith holding and Crabtree pushing off…the ball was not catchable…result no flag and a good no call. Niners should have ran better plays and have numerous chances to get it done…if you want to call this a no call then I would respond the hit on Flacco should have been a no call which would have given the Ravens a first down which may have resulted on a touchdown beings they would have had the ball right on the goal line…

    Lets move on game is over…

  29. I don’t know what play Blandino was watching, but there is NO WAY that ball was remotely catchable. It was 5 feet over Crabtree’s head. End of story.

  30. Have we heard more crying about a play that was barely “gray?” It is the last play of the Superbowl but in real time speed, which is the reality the game is played in in case we’ve forgotten, it’s not close. Harbaugh belaboring it is very disappointing. It smacks of total crybaby loserville. The great coaches in league history don’t gripe about play a week after the event. I guess we need some of the great coaches in the league to loose gracefully. Boy sportsmanship is bad right now.

  31. More reasons why there shouldn’t be restrictions on what plays can be reviewed or not. Calls and non-calls should be subject to review under any circumstance and this play should’ve been reviewed.

  32. Yes, in isolation, the grab is probably a foul. But so is shoving the guy’s helmet. If you want to pick nits, it’s offsetting penalties and the 49ers get another shot. (This is assuming you actually believe the ball’s catchable; the ball landed 2 yards out of bounds and Crabtree’s first step after the ball landed on the turf was out of bounds.) In practice, referees tend to eat their flags in these situations. If you want to argue against that practice, that’s one thing, but don’t just ignore the push-off.

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