Excitement Trumps Explanation

by Travis Normand

Last Saturday night, Cincinnati was trailing Virginia Tech by a score of 20-24, and then on third-and-ten, with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the upset happened!

Upon scoring the go-ahead touchdown, the crowd and ESPN announcers, go wild!  Yes, the excitement of watching a thrilling last second victory must have been why we didn’t get an explanation on Saturday night.

As soon as Cincinnati’s receiver caught the ball I instantly had two questions, (1) did he actually catch the ball, and (2) was he down before he got into the end zone?

In answering the first question, I was pretty sure (before I saw the replay) that he did catch the ball.  However, both the instant replay and the replay review easily confirm that he did.

However, answering my second question is a little more tricky and deals with when the receiver had possession of the ball.  If you watch the video (above) you will see that the receiver’s right knee appears to be down before he (or the ball) cross the goal line.  I could be wrong, but fortunately we have replay review.  Right?

While the play/call was reviewed (and appears to actually have been challenged by Virginia Tech) it is unclear whether or not this aspect of the receiver’s catch was reviewed.

The announcers fail to discuss whether or not the receiver was down before crossing the goal line and despite the replay being shown numerous times, they act as if they don’t even notice.  How could you not?

I am not trying to make an argument that Cincinnati didn’t actually score.  I am just bewildered how something so obvious can go completely overlooked and undiscussed.  It is my understanding that all aspects of a given play are technically reviewed by the replay officials, which leads me to assume they did review whether or not his knee was down.

In order to overturn the call of touchdown that was made on the field, the replay officials would have to see conclusive evidence (on film) showing the location of the ball at the moment the receiver’s knee was down (and that the ball was not in the end zone).  If they can’t see this evidence, the call of touchdown stands.

I am guessing that is most likely what happened.

However, another theory would be that despite his knee touching the ground before he entered the end zone, the receiver didn’t gain complete control of the ball until well after he crossed the goal line.  If this were the case, then the receiver’s knee touching down before the goal line would be irrelevant as the catch wasn’t made until the receiver was in the end zone.

Regardless of how it should have played out, it is always fascinating to me when some aspect of the game couldn’t be more obvious yet the announcers fail to point it out, much less even discuss it.

Even if the aspect is a non-issue, at least take a second to explain why that is the case.

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