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Any Misgiven Sunday

NFL PLAYOFFS

NFL says officials ruled incorrectly at end of 49ers' playoff victory and should have given Giants another shot at potential game-winning field goal.

January 07, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Unlike Green Bay Coach Mike Sherman, who missed a chance to challenge a muffed-punt turnover in Saturday's loss to Atlanta, Fassel had no recourse. Pass interference is not a penalty subject to replay review.

Instead of devoting extra attention to Seubert's eligibility as a receiver, 49er special teams coach Bruce DeHaven said the officials "probably didn't do that because 500 people were running on the field and it was just easier to head to the locker room."

Fox commentators added to the confusion. Game analyst Cris Collinsworth criticized Allen for not spiking the ball on the botched snap, contending that doing so on third down would have given the Giants another chance to make the kick on fourth down if time remained. Those in the Fox football studio heaped praise on Collinsworth for his insight. The Times also reported that a spike by Allen would have given the Giants "a fourth-down do-over."

But the NFL noted Monday that a spike by Allen would have resulted in an intentional grounding penalty and a 10-second clock runoff that would have ended the game. Allen's options beyond connecting with a receiver for a touchdown were to either quickly throw the ball incomplete toward an eligible receiver or hurriedly throw the ball out of bounds while outside the pocket -- and hoping time remained.

"Even outstanding analysts make mistakes," Fox Sports spokesman Lou D'Ermilio said. "I don't think you can say the NFL has too many vague rules. It's a unique challenge to decipher what is going on in the amount of time live television has at the end of a game. Every time and again, you miss something. We always want to be 100% accurate. We want all of our announcers to be as familiar with the rules as they can possibly be. This reemphasizes that goal. But there were mistakes by a lot of people in that game, not just us."

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Staff writer Steve Springer contributed to this report.

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