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NFL: Call Missed in Giants-49ers Game

January 6, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ The San Francisco 49ers’ 24-point comeback victory over the New York Giants ended with an officiating error.

The NFL said Monday that pass interference should have been called against the 49ers on the final play of the 39-38 thriller.

A botched field-goal attempt by the Giants ended Sunday’s game, when New York was called for having an ineligible receiver downfield while holder Matt Allen attempted a pass. However, the league said that the pass interference that was ignored would have resulted in a replay of the down.

After a videotape review of the 41-yard attempt with six seconds left, NFL Director of Officiating Mike Pereira determined:

_ The Giants’ Tam Hopkins, No. 65, lined up as the left guard and was illegally downfield on the pass. All three flags thrown by the officials were for that penalty.

_ Rich Seubert, No. 69 and normally a guard, lined up as an eligible receiver on the play. He reported to the officiating crew before the game that he would man that position on field goals.

_ 49ers defensive end Chike Okeafor interfered with Seubert when he was attempting to catch Allen’s pass. No defensive pass interference penalty was called.

``If defensive pass interference had been called,″ an NFL statement explained, ``there would have been offsetting penalties (ineligible receiver against the Giants and pass interference against the 49ers), with the down replayed at the original line of scrimmage, the San Francisco 23-yard line. Although time had expired, a game cannot end with offsetting penalties. Thus, the game would have been extended by one untimed down.″

Allen could not have spiked the botched snap, because it was a long snap. Pereira said the only time a player can spike the ball is when he takes the ball directly from the center.

Matt Bryant lined up to try the potential game-winning field goal, and the snap from newly signed Trey Junkin was in the dirt. Allen fumbled the ball, then made the desperation pass downfield to Seubert.

Fox commentator Cris Collinsworth said during the broadcast that, because it was third down, Allen could have spiked the ball, giving the Giants another chance at a kick. Afterward, on the Fox postgame show, other commentators agreed.

Pereira said the only other option would have been to throw to an eligible receiver.

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