Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Officials Spot Costs 49ers Game

Interesting story coming out today about the last play in last night's game. Mike Singletary blamed Mike Martz for the play call, and now Martz is going to do what all good coaches do... blame the refs!

Criticized after the game for a bizarre choice of plays, Martz said nothing to reporters and took the heat. The team's head coach and players took the heat, too, with Mike Singletary saying that Robinson got the call because "Coach Martz felt that there would be a cavity inside, so he made that call. So you've got to live with the result."

"It cost us the game," he said. "We go to the 1 -- or the half-yard line -- then spike the ball when, all of a sudden, officials tell us they're going to look at the replay. While they're looking at it, the ball stays at the 1. So we send in a play. Then, when they make their decision, they move the ball back to the 2½ and tell us they're going to start the clock on the official's wind.

"We couldn't change the play. We had to go with what we called. If it would've been at the 1, we would've made it. But they moved it and didn't give us any time. So what are we going to do? If they would've moved it to the 10 we still would've had to run the play that was called. We got screwed because of the spot, first and foremost."

That might need an explanation. Because officials overruled San Francisco quarterback Shaun Hill's spike, there was no dead ball. And no dead ball means the clock doesn't stop. San Francisco didn't have a timeout left, so it had exactly three seconds to produce a game-winning play.

At that point, Martz said, the 49ers could do nothing but run what he called. And what he called, was a play designed to score from the 1, not the 2½.

"Obviously, if we had had time we wouldn't have called that play for that situation," he said. "We would've called a double fade and passed it. I didn't expect anything like that. We had no recourse. We got screwed every way possible."

Mike Pereira, the league's vice president of officiating, doesn't see it like that. In fact, he insisted officials acted properly at the end of Monday's game.

As the 49ers lined up for the third-down spike, he said, officials were notified on the field that there would be a review of the previous play -- a Frank Gore run that seemed to put the 49ers at the half-yard line. Nevertheless, they couldn't stop Hill from spiking the ball as a flag was thrown.

Had the spike been allowed to stand, Pereira said, the 49ers would have been penalized. Apparently, they were in an illegal formation, which would've moved the ball back 5 yards.

But the spike didn't count because it was superseded by an official review of the previous play, Gore's run. Once the review was completed, Pereira said, it was announced to the stadium crowd that Gore was stopped for a 1-yard loss and that the ball would be reset at the 2.

Pereira also said officials gave the 49ers an opportunity to line up before setting the ball down and starting the clock. But it still wasn't enough time to check out of the call, Martz said.

"We had no choice to do what we do," he said.
Mike says he didn't find out the ball was respotted until he talked to former coach Mike Nolan Tuesday morning which has to make new coach Mike Singletary very happy. Who does Martz report to again?

Back to the call... personally, my thoughts are that the 49ers are at fault for not being prepared for the spot change. They've got spotters in the booth, and those guys need to be telling the coaches that it's possible the spot will be moved back, in which case Martz should have had a back-up plan. As soon as the ball is respotted, they go with plan B and run the pass.

I know it sounds simple on paper and most likely a lot different during the middle of the action, but for some reason I can't imagine this same scenario happening to the Patriots, Titans, Giants or any of the other elite teams in the league.

Of course.... they could have just spiked the ball, which was the original 3rd down call anyway. Either way... this is just typical Mike Martz school of coaching 101 in action. Are you paying attention class?