A huge call went against the 49ers in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks when linebacker Nick Moody was penalized for roughing the passer for hitting Russell Wilson. Now the NFL has admitted that call was wrong.
NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino admitted in an appearance on NFL Network this morning that referee Ed Hochuli should not have thrown the flag on Moody.
“It’s close, but when you look at it on tape, Moody’s head is up, he hits with more the side or the facemask to the body of the quarterback. So in our review, with the ability to look at it in slow motion, it is not a foul,” Blandino said.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game that he thought Hochuli made a bad call, but Hochuli stood by his decision, saying that Moody led with the crown of his helmet.
“I felt that he hit the quarterback in the chest with the hairline, and that’s a foul unless he has his face completely up and would hit it face on with the facemask. It’s a foul, and that’s why I called it,” Hochuli said. “I felt that he hit him with the hairline. The facemask, after you hit him, the facemask comes up. But the first thing that hit him was the hairline of the helmet. . . . That is still a foul when you hit the quarterback with that part of your head.”
Hochuli appeared to be in a bad position to make the call because Wilson’s body was blocking Hochuli’s view of Moody, making it hard for Hochuli to see whether Moody was leading with the crown of his helmet. Blandino acknowledged Hochuli’s view may have been obscured.
“Certainly, if he doesn’t see the whole action we don’t want him to throw the flag, and Ed was getting into position, and he saw him — or what he thought he saw, ducking the head and making the contact. He wouldn’t throw the flag if he didn’t see it, but it obviously happened quick at full speed, and he didn’t have the benefit of the slow-motion replay that we all do after the fact,” Blandino said.
Wilson threw incomplete on the play, which was a third down, so the Seahawks would have had to settle for a field goal attempt on the next play. Instead, the Seahawks got an automatic first down and scored a touchdown two plays later, effectively sealing the win. It was a costly call for the 49ers, and the wrong call according to the NFL.