Fans, sports writers, half the Harbaugh brothers, everyone is screaming that there should have been a holding call on the critical 4th down play in the final two minutes in which the ball fluttered harmlessly to the ground and enabled the Ravens to drain the clock for the victory. I'm here to plead the case that the right call was made.
First off, I have no rooting interest in the game, I don't care for one team over another, nor do I have any lean toward a player.
But to me, the reason holding (or pass interference, or illegal contact) should be called is if/when the offense has earned position, and the defense can only take back that position by commiting contact.
Sure, there was contact. But just about every pass has some sort of contact, the last thing we want to do is see flags on 3/4 of every pass play, this will turn into soccer with the flopping. There's contact on every basketball play near the rim. It's really only called if the offense was denied what they earned by the contact. Nobody wants a game where Kobe can run right at a defender and get the contact call because it's impossible to get out of the way. The same principle should apply here.
Same goes for offensive holding. There's holding on every play, but it gets called if the defense earns position and the holding is the only thing stopping them from taking advantage of what they earned.
Specifically, if you watch the replay, the Ravens earned an early throw with a blitz. The play's timing was off instantly. Michael Crabtree ran AT the defender (wasn't trying to get by him) and engaged as the pass was being thrown. As the ball was thrown early, the defender (Jimmy Smith) was playing the contact initiated by Crabtree (not thinking the ball was in the air, but rather anticipating the next move by Crabtree and well within the 5 yard zone). As Colin Kaepernick had to deliver the ball early, he threw outside, the only place that was possible to complete. Crabtree gave a token move that way, Smith, admittedly committed some contact as they disengaged (and actually dropped back as if he was pushed or was making sure he didn't continue the contact), but in the end, it was not contact that gained an advantage not already earned, the Ravens held the defensive advantage every moment of the play.
Again, one would hate for the game to not be decided on the field, and this was a case in which the Ravens earned that play and could have been denied, but the refs gave them the benefit and I think it was the right call.
Wonder how the replacement refs might have called it?
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