Was the ruling of an Asante Samuel Jr. interception clearly and obviously wrong?

USA TODAY Sports

From time to time, the powers-that-be on Park Avenue with the power to overturn on-field rulings in any and every stadium become tempted to use replay review as a fresh look at a play. The standard that supposedly applies can be forgotten.

The ruling on the field can be overturned only if clear and obvious evidence shows that a mistake was made. Previously known officially as “indisputable visual evidence,” the bar has been informally described as “50 drunks in a bar” would agree that it was a bad call.

As to one of the most important plays of the Week Two game between the Chargers and the Chiefs, it’s fair to ask whether the league office applied the proper standard when determining that the ruling on the field of an interception by L.A. cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. was wrong.

It was a huge play. The Chargers led by 10. They would have had the ball at the Kansas City 30. The road team could have gone up by 17 and sent the home-team’s fans home early.

Said NFL senior V.P. of officiating Walt Anderson to pool reporter Joe Reedy after the game: “What we saw was that the ball did hit the ground and that he had not secured and maintained control of the ball after it hit the ground. We saw movement of the ball after it hit the ground, an then the ground ended up helping him re-secure it.”

Added Anderson: “The ball hit the ground as he was going down, and . . . he did not maintain control of the ball.”

But is it clear and obvious that the decision that Samuel actually secured control of the ball before it hit the ground wrong? That question wasn’t asked. That question wasn’t answered.

That’s the only question that needed to be asked, and that needed to be answered. What there clear and obvious evidence that the ruling on the field was wrong?

In other words, would 50 drunks in a bar (watching on DirecTV, so they didn’t have to worry about buffering) have said it wasn’t an interception? I don’t think they would. Which means that, even if the ruling would have been incompletion if the rules required no deference to the decision made on the field, the outcome under the very high standard for replay review should have been interception.

Here’s another rule of thumb for assessing whether the evidence to justify overturning the ruling on the field is clear and obvious. While Peter King and I were talking about the issue during Friday’s PFT Live, I found myself leaning toward the monitor under my camera to get a better look at the critical moments of the play.

That’s when it occurred to me. If you have to lean forward to watch the play and determine whether the ruling was correct, can it ever be “clear and obvious” that the ruling on the field was wrong?

85 responses to “Was the ruling of an Asante Samuel Jr. interception clearly and obviously wrong?

  1. We have all come to learn that the NFL cannot be trusted to do the right think. They like to control the outcome of games as much as possible. If a game is heading towards a blowout they will do everything in their power to keep it close. It’s about viewership and always money.

  2. I didn’t think it would be overturned. One example of how lucky the Chiefs got last night. Mahomes was throwing the ball carelessly last night.

  3. Not a fan of either team and actually had money on LA but yes. The ball clearly moved and the ground helped him complete the catch. Close play but the replay was clear and obvious.

  4. Commentators always ask their expert ref the wrong question; was that a catch or not? Vs, is there clear and obvious evidence to overturn the call on the field? This bugs me.

  5. The play should have stood as called on the field. There was not :indisputable visual evidence” to overturn. Once again, a great game is marred by the inability of officials to simply follow the rules.

  6. It might enhance the viewing experience if we they actually went to 50 drunks in a bar and live televised the reactions rather than show someone holding a shaded tv screen in front of a ref, or having announcers prattling on while they wait to see if NY agrees.

  7. I thought it was a BS reversal at first but the last angle they showed (directly from the front of the defensive back) was pretty telling. About 1/4 of the ball was clearly touching the ground while he was cupping it from underneath. He obviously also didn’t have control at any point with all the fumbling and stumbling. Right call IMO.

  8. Ball wasn’t clearly caught, ball touched the ground, then ball switched hands while touching the ground. Non story, close for sure, but plays like that happen in nearly every game. As they say, if DB’s could catch, they’d be wide receivers.

  9. For my money, that was an INT. Throw in “conclusive” evidence to overturn, the ruling on the field should have stood. But my team won so no tears from me.

  10. I had a prop bet that Mahomes would throw at least one INT so I was invested in this call and I felt replay got it right. He didn’t appear to me the ground help him corral the ball. I was would have preferred the original call for a couple of reasons but I can’t complain about the correction.

  11. No dog in this fight, but I didn’t think Samuel intercepted it after watching the replay, and it wasn’t necessary to lean forward to see it. You could easily see the ball being pushed up between his hands as it touched the ground.

  12. This is why I propose rewriting the rulebook so that things can be simpler, clearer, and better for the sporting dynamics and entertainment value. The NFL has become somewhat stale as a game, and the fans deserve for it to be updated and modernized.

  13. Watching that play live (with no buffering) I thought it was an interception. After the first couple of replays I still thought interception. It wasn’t until they slowed the play down to an almost frame by frame speed could you tell the ball moved slightly after contacting the ground.

    So I would ask the question, if you have to go to a frame by frame view to get the call right is it really clear and obvious?

  14. Absolutely not.

    His hand was under the ball. The ball can move if you don’t take your hand off it.

    One hand slipped off the ball but the other pinned it against his body.

    I could see had they ruled it incomplete on the field, but they didn’t.

    Massive error.

  15. It was a 50-50 call, so yes, the ruling on the field should have stood.
    And, when the Chiefs were struggling in the first half, the ticky tack pass interference call lead directly to their first TD.
    Home cookin’ with the refs always helps.

  16. These two teams are the teams to watch in this division. Chiefs will win the division, both teams make the playoffs. Raiders will be the biggest failure in that division, they should start looking for new management ASAP. Too much invested in their disaster relocation to Vegas and Devante Adams.

  17. I’ve not seen anyone saying it was absolutely not a legit interception but plenty of folks humming and hawing about it and unsure – to me this illustrates that it wasn’t a clear and obvious error. It’s the same story in the Premier League in England (and pretty soon here in Scotland too), a lack of understanding by officials about what the technology is there for. If it takes more than 2 minutes for 3 referees looking at footage from 8 different angles to come up with an answer then there was no ‘clear and obvious’ error on the field. And if it takes 8 paragraphs to explain a decision that was made then you’re trying to cover for a decision that shouldn’t have been made.

  18. I thought it was clearly a pick even after the replays.

    So I guess “no,” it was not a clearly wrong call.

  19. I was rooting for Chargers, and understood it could be game changing moment, but I thought it was clearly not an INT after the various replays.

  20. This was pretty much as close as it gets in my opinion, ball definitely hit the ground but he didn’t trap it against the ground to make the catch.

    Honestly could see it going either way but would’ve liked to see it stand as a fan of the game.

  21. The NFL rule is a poor one, as it often leads the fan walking away feeling cheated and disgusted by the results. The goal of instant replay should always be to get the call as correct as possible, not to provide a loop hole that allows 1 drunk out of 50 to feeling vindicated. My .02, if instant replay exists for any reason other than making the most correct call than I’d go back to sticking with the ruling on the field as being the end all be all… so much easier to understand how a human at live speed can make a incorrect call than it is to justify some of these decisions being made after seeing the play from 8 different angles in extreme slow mo.

  22. Any one with a brain and two eyes can tell clearly the ground helped him. I’m not even a fan of either team.

  23. His hands weren’t underneath the ball. Any one with two eyes and a brain should be able to clearly see and tell that.

  24. what’s crazy is that if it was a different game and the same play happened they would have ruled that it’s a INT. sometimes i feel the referees call penalties to keep a game competing and close. i could be wrong…

  25. If frame by frame shows you the ball moved, then it’s clear and obvious, thus overturning the call.

  26. Chiefs got the calls all night. Everyone knows the nfl has chosen teams that get special treatment.

  27. It is unbelievable how many dropped interceptions that Mahomes threw last night. Like one per drive.
    Not sure if this one was incorrectly called or not, but it looked like a good catch to me.

  28. “The road team could have gone up by 17 and sent the home-team’s fans home early.”

    Like when all the fans left early when the home team was down 24-0 in a playoff game? Asking for a friend.

  29. It’s clear you can see two types of responses in these comments:

    1) thoughts about the NFL’s replay system genuinely debating this call and the process.

    2) Anti-Mahomes peanut gallery where whatever he does is wrong.

    One things is always 100% sure, Haters gonna hate.

  30. carloswlassiter says:
    September 16, 2022 at 10:26 am
    Didn’t look clear and obvious to me.

    ——————

    Looking at the replay I couldn’t tell that it 100% wasn’t an INT. I did think that if the INT stood that the game was getting pretty close to out of reach for the Chiefs.

    It’s a call that, most likely, if Geno Smith had thrown the pass it would have stood.

  31. patsfan says:
    September 16, 2022 at 10:30 am

    “It might enhance the viewing experience if we they actually went to 50 drunks in a bar and live televised the reactions”

    It would really be entertaining when the drunks began brawling.

  32. I am a Bills fan so it doesn’t affect me in any way but it was absolutely not a pick. He lost control of it. Amazing play but just not completed.

  33. It was so close it was a stay with the call on the field situation. Of course the 77 yearold Al Michaels immediately knew it would be overturned for his boy Mahomes. Those two sure are bros for life. Mahomes can do no wrong in Al’s eyes . While Al takes subtle shots at the Patriots for not paying JC Jackson $15m a year (he’s still bitter about Pats beating his Rams in SB) . I guess that was before JC a was toasted by a rookie for a 50 yard TD. I thought the broadcast sucked. Sorry Chargers l, Al can only root for one LA Team.

  34. Patrick Mahomes is a tremendous player, but is there a QB in football luckier than this guy? I saw a stat before last season that Mahomes lead the league in “would be interceptions”. As in, passes that were thrown that should have been intercepted, but the defense dropped it. It was over a 3 year period of time (something like that). Incredibly, his actual interception numbers were on the low end, leading people to talk about how accurate he is, and how he protects the ball and all this. Truth is, the stat shows that he makes bad throws, and bad decisions higher than the average QB, but the defense manages to bail him out by dropping the ball. Plays like this one in question are another reason for Pat’s low INT rate. Unless you are a Chiefs fan, you think that pass was an INT and the officials blew the call. It happens, but again, talk about luck…

  35. 50 drunks in a bar don’t run a multi-billion dollar company. You couldn’t get 50 sober guys to agree on anything. But the NFL is a multi-billion dollar business, and it should be run like it is. They got the call right. That’s where the bar should be. The way they do replay is primitive. They’re not going to get every call right doing it the way they currently do. But they got this one right. Good on the NFL and their new partnership. People are spending hard earned money to watch football, and they’re giving up three hours of their life to watch a game. To watch a game, and have the refs give the game to the wrong team is not good for business. The guys running these billion dollar companies know what they’re doing.

  36. I disagree. I’ve watched thousands of replays of catches over the last few decades, and that looked like the kind that gets overturned every time.

    It was close, but there’s no doubt the ball was moving around and came in contact with the ground. There are certainly cases for “does it meet the threshold for being overturned?”, but I don’t see this as one of them.

    Now that intentional grounding by the Browns that got overturned and handed them the game – THAT seems like the case of not meeting the criteria for overturning.

  37. anything to help mahomes keep a clean sept. you don’t know how many int’s he has had that have been called back for some stupid reason. that was a pick.

  38. Would it have been considered a catch if it was a wide receiver? Absolutely not because the ball was moving around between his arms the entire time he had it.
    Surely Jeff Bezos wouldn’t mind you sharing a short replay of it in the article because I don’t believe there would be so many responses.

  39. I don’t like the call on the field being a strong default position. In my opinion, if there’s a clear, unobstructed view of the play on replay then just go ahead and make the call based on that and forget what the call on the field was. Only if the replay is obstructed or unclear for some other reason should we default to the call on the field.

    In this case, on watching the first replay, I thought it was clear that the ball slipped down from his hands and hit the ground before he got it under control. So, in my opinion, pretty clear incompletion.

  40. The ball was in control with his hand underneath it grasping it when he hit the turf. When his hand hit the turf his hand moved (Newton’s 3rd law) and with it the ball (but the ball was under control). There was no evidence I saw on repeat the says elsewise. Terrible review. Terrible analysis.

  41. I have no dog in the fight but I thought the INT should stand. That was the call on the field. I don’t see anything that definitively said the ground helped secure the ball. Super slo-mo tends to exacerbate the degree the ball moves. It can hit the ground but he had his hand underneath enough. The issue to me was the call was INT so I think you need more to overturn it as per the article here.

  42. Yes, yes it was clear and obvious. Didn’t even have to lean in hard to see. Ball was moving, ball clearly hit ground. So, what’s the debate here?

  43. it is ridiculous how the nfl influences certain games for certain teams that they want to see win, or the teams they think the fans want to see wins. there were a few very questionable calls in the game that went kc’s way and that changed the tide of the game. the nfl is so high on mahomes as the poster boy for the league and certain qb types that they push games a certain way and i think the fans see it. kc is the greatest 1 year dynasty and the nfl wants to keep it that way

  44. A bunch of the people commenting here don’t seem to understand the rules. The ball can touch the ground and still be considered a catch.

  45. Off subject but very relevant: this whole system is goofy. I spend $300 plus for NFL ticket and then have to figure out how to get Prime on my TV anyway. How greedy can they get?

  46. Make the rule clear and obvious: If there is visual evidence in the process of a catch there is movement of the ball while it is touching the ground, it cannot and will not be called a catch. NO exceptions. If, during a catch, the ball is shown to be touching the ground but there is no visual evidence of movement it is a catch and will be called as such.

  47. Steve O’Keefe says:
    September 16, 2022 at 12:50 pm
    Yes, yes it was clear and obvious. Didn’t even have to lean in hard to see. Ball was moving, ball clearly hit ground. So, what’s the debate here?

    ————

    The debate rests with whether the ground helped Samuel secure the ball. Some of us feel it didn’t. The ball can touch the ground in the act of catching the ball.

  48. Both QBs threw pick 6s on the goal line, KC converted theirs for the TD while LA dropped theirs & gave up a fg I think. There’s your difference in the game, not that call…but it did look like an interception. Spare me the “the league wanted it this way so people wouldn’t turn it off and watch something else” crap, we all know even if the chargers go up 17 there, Mahomes would make it a game at least. Good game, tough loss for the chargers, could definitely see them being the better team overall by the end of the season. As someone that doesn’t see a ton of chargers games being on the east coast, that’ll pretty obvious why LA threw so much cash at Derwin James, he’s fun to watch

  49. Considering that the ball is allowed to touch the ground (it just has to be under the receiver’s control) it was a pretty close call. But of course Terry McAullife, who last week thought that a guy running full speed into the punter and driving his helmet into the punter’s chest was not “blowing up the punter” knew right away after seeing it one time that it was clearly and obviously not an INT. Mike Perreira >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Terry McAuliffe.

  50. Speaking of bad calls, let’s look at the roughing the passer call on Bosa that was magically changed to offensive holding. The replay was just as clear that it wasn’t holding. The point is…don’t leave your destiny in the hands of the refs. They are human and make mistakes.

  51. Clearly when the ball is not sit secured and hits the ground underneath him like that it’s a trap.

  52. It is unbelievable how many dropped interceptions that Herbert threw last night. Like one per drive.
    Not sure if this one was incorrectly called or not, but it looked like a drop to me.

  53. Hey, let’s ask the Refs about the no Unsportsmanlike Conduct on Derwin James body slamming Kelce and the non ROughing the Passer call on Austin Johnson’s helmet to helmet hit on Mahomes in the 1st half, and the phantom hold on Wylie that negated the low hit on Mahomes or any number of other controversial calls/no calls in the game.

  54. NFL is starting to look like the NBA. No need to watch except the last quarter.

  55. By rule it should have remained an interception. Maybe it’s time we simplified the definition of a catch and revert back to where the ball cannot touch the ground. At all. Fixes more than just turnovers, but questionable calls where you have to lean in to see better. All you’d have to do is see whether the ball touched the ground and it’s incomplete.

  56. What may not be “clear and obvious” to 50 drunks in a bar may well be clear be clear an obvious to sober NFL officials who have all camera angles at their disposal.

  57. For whatever reason the bias for or against Mahomes seems to be used as the basis for most people’s arguments here. Kudos for all who choose to decide if it was or wasn’t an interception based purely on the video and not for their like or dislike of Mahomes.

  58. jjackwagon says:
    September 16, 2022 at 2:30 pm
    It is unbelievable how many dropped interceptions that Herbert threw last night. Like one per drive.
    Not sure if this one was incorrectly called or not, but it looked like a drop to me.
    —————
    Unlikely since Mahomes threw this pass in question not Herbert but you’re otherwise not wrong on some dangerous throws he made.

  59. NFL Refs are still horrible with replay. The ball can hit the ground and he didn’t lose control of the ball another botched call. Now that the NFL is partnered with gambling they better get these calls to stop or fans will leave. Nobody wants to watch rigged games.

  60. stilladolphinfan says:
    September 16, 2022 at 12:50 pm
    it is ridiculous how the nfl influences certain games for certain teams that they want to see win, or the teams they think the fans want to see wins. there were a few very questionable calls in the game that went kc’s way and that changed the tide of the game. the nfl is so high on mahomes as the poster boy for the league and certain qb types that they push games a certain way and i think the fans see it. kc is the greatest 1 year dynasty and the nfl wants to keep it that way

    *******************************************************************

    You clearly don’t recall the days when Dirty Don Shula, The Hungarian Hypocrite, Chaired the Rules Committee, which if I recall correctly, also controlled hiring/firing and pay for Referees. He had an iron grip on that committee, and changed rules annually to gain advantages for his style of play and roster composition. The number of controversial calls that went Shula’s way and bailed out the Dolphins was sickening. All he had to do was give the Ref “the look” and calls were reversed, as nobody wanted to lose their job or be demoted, or be excluded from consideration for refereeing playoff games. The Dolphins were one of the few warm weather teams, and Super Bowls were regularly hosted in Miami. The NFL featured them. Being known as a kind of exotic paradise was part of that featuring for TV broadcasts. Regardless, nobody got away with more undeserved favor than The Hungarian Hypocrite.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.