Super Bowl XLVII had a little something for everyone, including a blackout segment and a sequel to The Crying Game.
It seems that the meany wuf didn't call a holding penalty against Baltimore, which allowed the Ravens to sneak out of New Orleans with a Super Bowl victory.
Sniff, sniff. Break out the Kleenex.
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh chose crass over classy by harping on a critical non-call on fourth-and-goal during the 49ers' last possession. After three plays gained two yards, Colin Kaepernick tried to connect with Michael Crabtree on a fade route on fourth down. But the pass fell incomplete as Crabtree could not break free from the snatch-and-grab defense of cornerback Jimmy Smith.
Did Smith interfere? Probably so.
Should it have come down to that play? Probably not.
The 49ers whiffed on a number of opportunities during the game, most notably during a curious set of red zone calls in the final drive. Frank Gore, who had been a beast, didn't get a touch. Kaepernick didn't get a chance to run a read-option play, which had gouged the Ravens during previous possessions.
I didn't hear the refs complaining about your dubious play-calling, Mr. Harbaugh, so perhaps you should have returned the favor. He did not. After initially ripping the refs after the game, Harbaugh at least found a measure of self-reflection during a news conference Tuesday.
"When you do something that doesn't work, you would have liked to have done something different — at least tried it," Harbaugh said. "But you can't."
There's no question that some sort of penalty can be called on each and every play of an NFL game. And a referee can call a foul on every NBA possession. And some umpire is likely to blow a ball-strike call during every inning of an MLB game.
Sports, professional or otherwise, is an inexact science when it comes to officiating. Always has been, always will be, no matter how many technological advances we want to put in play.
It would have been a hoot if the replacements refs were still part of the equation on Super Bowl Sunday. You'd still feel the rumbling from San Francisco, and it would have nothing to do with the San Andreas Fault.
Everybody loves a scapegoat. I suppose Harbaugh just couldn't bear to throw himself under the bus over a lousy set of plays to try to win the game.
Stuff happens in pro sports.
Even in the Super Bowl.
"You can clearly see he's got his arm around the outside of his waist," said former All-Pro linebacker Darryl Talley, who played in four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills. "He's trying to do whatever he can to keep the guy out of the end zone.
"Some get away with it. Some guys don't."
Talley knows the deal.
He remembers continually jamming wide receiver Ernest Givins off the line of scrimmage in the famous "Comeback" playoff game" involving the Bills and the Houston Oilers in 1993. Buffalo rallied from a 35-3 deficit in the third quarter to win, 41-38, in overtime.
As the Oilers' implosion continued, quarterback Warren Moon went ballistic over Talley's jamming tactics, which weren't called in an era when defenders had much more leeway.
The most critical moment came when Talley jammed Givins on a third-down play in overtime, allowing a pass intended for him to sail right into the arms of defensive back Nate Odomes to set up the game-winning field goal. Moon carried the grudge for years, even after Talley joined the Minnesota Vikings.
"You held him!" Moon would scream.
"No I didn't," Talley shot back. "But it's not like he has leprosy."
Finding a scapegoat is a disease that permeates all of sports. Jim Harbaugh has a bad case of it, and can't seem to find a cure.
May I suggest a huge slice of humble pie?