Refs come through with tough non-call

Image (from left to right): Michael Crabtree of the San Francisco 49ers & Ed Reed of the Baltimore Ravens (© Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)
Looking for a flag? You shouldn't get one on this play.
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Mike Pereira

Mike Pereira was the NFL's Vice President of Officiating from 2004-09, having spent the five seasons previous to that as the league's Director of Officiating. He also served as an NFL game official when he acted as a side judge for two seasons (1997-98). Follow him on Twitter.


Destiny, it is said, is a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power.

Irresistible? How about improbable, impossible, incredible — and no power —since I can't remember a Super Bowl quite as crazy as No. XVLII between Baltimore and San Francisco.

For the record, Baltimore won 34-31, but destiny may have been the biggest winner.

First, you had the brothers Harbaugh coaching against one another in the Super Bowl, something we may never see again in any sport.

Then you had the underdog Ravens, who had overcome numerous obstacles this season just to get to the Super Bowl, playing lights out on their way to a 22-point lead just seconds into the third quarter.

So lights out, in fact, there was a power outage, delaying the game for 34 minutes. You can't make this stuff up, folks.

Then there was Destiny's Child getting into the act. No, I'm not talking about Beyonce and her former group reuniting for the halftime show. I'm speaking of San Francisco's amazing rookie quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who led the 49ers back from the brink when most thought the game was over.

This was a long way to get to destiny's final date with one Jerome Boger.

Never heard of him? That's OK. You're not supposed to. Boger was making his first appearance as referee in the Super Bowl and some, including some anonymous officials, questioned his qualifications for working this game.

But I'm happy to say Boger and his crew did a commendable job.

It was a relatively penalty-free game (49ers had 5, Ravens had 2), and while there are always a few plays in question, the biggest play that had 49ers fans screaming came late in the game.

Here was the situation: the 49ers had the ball, fourth-and-goal from the Baltimore 5-yard line with 1:50 left in the game. Baltimore led, 34-29.

Kaepernick lofted a pass to Michael Crabtree, who was being guarded by Jimmy Smith. Both players were hand fighting and when you look at this play in real time, there's not enough to call pass interference against either player. Smith had a quick grab and Crabtree had a quick push-off. Smith went down on the play and the pass fell incomplete.

Crabtree never complained and it's the type of play where a flag thrown against either team would have, in my mind, created more controversy than a decision not to throw the flag.

By the way, it couldn't be defensive holding because the pass was in the air when the contact occurred. It's either offensive pass interference or defensive pass interference.

It was not an obvious foul and until I looked at it in slow motion, it seemed like no foul at all. It's not a penalty I would want called if I were still VP of Officiating for the NFL.

Oh, I forgot one thing that is destined to be looked at this offseason.

It is said that teams reflect the temperament of their coach. The competitive nature of the Harbaugh brothers have rubbed off on their respective teams.

Super Bowl XLVII was one of the more chippy Super Bowls I've seen in a long time. In many ways, it seems to be an extension of what we saw beginning in Week 1 with the replacement officials.

The lack of control we saw the first three weeks of the season was hard to reel in once the regular officials resumed their roles. I have to think the NFL can't be happy with all of the late shoving and the in-your-face mouthiness. It seems to have become the rule, not the exception.

It was most apparent in a fray that occurred around the 7-minute mark of the second quarter after Baltimore’s Ed Reed picked off a Kaepernick pass. A melee nearly broke out and personal fouls were called on both teams. Actually, Baltimore defender Cary Williams should have been ejected for shoving an official.

This whole episode was preceded by a bunch of verbal taunting between both teams. The officials were doing their best to get between players and get it stopped without throwing flags, but it eventually turned into a major skirmish.

I think it's safe to say that the competition committee will look at this in the off season and issue a point of emphasis regarding taunting and dead-ball pushing and shoving.

Look for a lot of early fouls called for unsportsmanlike conduct next season.

That's when destiny might come face to face with reality.

Tagged: 49ers, Ravens, Ed Reed, Michael Crabtree, Jimmy Smith, Colin Kaepernick

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