I was watching the Arizona - San Fran clash last night, and it ended so peculiarly, I had to comment on it.
San Fran was down by 5, and there was something like 50 seconds left, no timeouts. The QB throws to #89 who is knocked down at the 4 or so. The receiver gets up hobbling, and it seems no one is sure what to do. The QB goes up to the line to try and spike it, but the team isn't all there. A lot of time winds off the clock, and now we're down inside of 30 seconds. Finally, the team gets set and the ball is spiked. But, a flag comes out.
Why? Because #89 is waaaay behind the line, near the sidelines, but still in bounds. The officials confer and decide its not a penalty, and they're right. He hobbled upfield toward the bench, and went outside the numbers, then was walking back toward the numbers. There were 10 other players at the line. So, there weren't too many players on the field. He was lined up as an eligible receiver in the backfield, so that's cool. At issue was the fact that he went outisde the numbers on the field. The rule was designed to keep a team from sending someone off, and then bringing on a new player to replace him by lining him up near the bench to confuse the other team about who's playing. Because he had played on the previous play, he could go outside the numbers on the play.
So, now its second and goal at the 4 with somewhere around 30 seconds left. Its a handoff. Gore runs left, and a player gets a hand on him, but he takes two more steps, stumbles and puts his knee down. Then, he crawls across the goal line before he's touched again. He's ruled down, and San Fran quickly lines up to spike it again. They get the play off....
....then the ref signals that the previous play was being reviewed. Now, in the confusion its possible the ref was signalling timeout for the review, but because a play had run it should have been over. And here's what's weirder. When Gore is ruled down there are about 20 seconds left, and by the time the spike happens, we're at maybe 15. But the clock doesn't stop until the ref announces the review, and there are suddenly 2 seconds left. Singletary argues.
The review shows what I stated: Gore took a couple of steps, so he was not down by contact, so its a TD. But the official rules him down. And he decides to put 2 seconds back on the clock, so we're at 4 seconds left on 3rd and goal from the 4.
Mike Martz decides to run it, and I can't fault him for that, though the TV announcers didn't understand it...
Gore gets tripped up at the 2, and in their euphoria, one of the players rips off Gore's helmet. The game is over, Arizona wins.
Except that the face mask penalty should have been enforced, and San Fran should have had one more down to get it in. Though it should never have come to that...
It was sooooo strange.