Kick above the top of upright is not reviewable

Just received word from the NFL Office in New York on what happened when 49ers coach Mike Nolan challenged David Akers’ 38-yard field goal on Sunday. The kick gave the Eagles a 27-26 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

 

My first question to league spokesman Randall Liu (via email) is whether the play was even reviewable.

 

Field goals and PATs are reviewable this season. Here is the wording in the rule book on a reviewable kick: “A field goal or Try attempt that crosses below or above the crossbar, inside or outside the uprights when it is lower than the top of the uprights, or touches anything.”

 

So, “(a) field goal or Try attempt that crosses above either upright without touching anything” is a non-reviewable play, Liu relayed in his message.

 

Why was Nolan allowed to challenge the call?

 

“On the play in question, the official underneath ruled that the field goal had gone inside the uprights and not over, thus making it a reviewable play,” Liu said.

 

Referee Ron Winter ruled that there was no indisputable visual evidence to overturn the call on the field, Liu said.

 

The ruling on the field, according to the league, was that the kick was below the top of the upright. The replay appeared to show that the kick was above the upright, making it impossible for Winter to overturn the call.

 

But, also, if the ball was above the upright, the officials should not have allowed Nolan to challenge it in the first place.

 

An NFL pool reporter (that’s my job at Candlestick) is allowed to ask questions of the referee after the game. However, it was only after Nolan gave his version of events that it became apparent more clarification was needed. Therefore, no request to speak was made to speak after the game with Winter.

 

Here’s what Nolan said about the situation after the game:

RE: The field goal.

Nolan: “The field goal. Yeah. This is not a complaint to the officials but they have to make a signal at some point that says it’s above the bar or not. Because as it is, I challenged it not knowing if it’s above or below. What I’m saying is if the challenge…I still have to challenge because I threw the red flag. Because I asked him, ‘Is it challengeable?’ And he said, ‘It really doesn’t matter now that you threw the red flag.’ So either way it was going to cost me. So in the discussions right there, they have to correct that. There’s got to be some kind of signal that says it’s not only good but it’s not challengeable or it is. Obviously that didn’t cost us the game. But anyway, [it’s] something they’ve got to fix.”

RE: How can they reverse that if there’s not a camera at the same place where the referee is? How can you get that reversed?

Nolan: “When he came over, I asked him the same exact question. Other than, can I challenge it? He asked the guy, ‘Was it below it?’ And they all kind of said it was. But outside of that, I said, ‘What views are you going to see? Are they going to be different from what I see?’ And he said, ‘I’m just going to see what they give me on the monitor.’ That was his response. So it’s not as if there’s a camera, I guess. If there was, he’d have said, ‘there was one.’ So as the way it’s setup now, it’s all fine and dandy. Basically what they get to challenge is if you’ve got a situation like last year where the thing bounces off the cross bar or hits the little machine that’s there. Then you get it. Otherwise, it’s ineffective. The challenges don’t mean anything.”

RE: You weren’t aware of this before?

Nolan: “You know what? I thought maybe there was something…because I didn’t think it was good, to be honest with you. I wanted to hear what he had to say coming over. That’s why I also thought that coming over if he said, ‘You can’t challenge it because it was above the cross bar.’ I was going to say, ‘Well then I get my challenge back.’ But he says, ‘No, you’re not going to get your challenge back.'”

RE: You mean the upright?

Nolan: “The upright, forgive me.”

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