Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh talks to referee Jerome Boger (23) against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens: Why NFL Refs Were Super Bowl XLVII MVP

Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Head linesman Steve Stelljes (22) holds back Baltimore Ravens cornerback Cary Williams (29) during a scuffle against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl ended up being a great game after all. Two teams battling back and forth, ended up being a high scoring affair, with the Baltimore Ravens eventually beating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. However, despite the great game, many fans are questioning the integrity of the Super Bowl, with their own inferior motives.

Throughout the game, numerous calls were blown. For starters, Ravens cornerback Cary Williams shoved a ref in the heat of battle, that should have constituted as an immediate ejection or at the very minimum, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. As the NFL rulebook clearly states, under Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1:

There shall be no unsportsmanslike conduct. This applies to any act which is contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship. Such acts specifically include, among others:

(g)Unnecessary physical contact with a game official.

Note 1: Under no condition is an official to allow a player to shove, push, or strike him in an offensive, disrespectful, or unsportsmanlike manner.

Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver (29) breaks up a pass to Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith (82) in the second quarter in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

As if that call wasn’t bad enough, the refs blew yet another one, a few plays later, as Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw a deep ball to wide receiver Torrey Smith, that was clearly under-thrown. In an effort to make a play on the ball, 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver was immediately grabbed from behind by Smith, leading the ball to fall through his hands incomplete. A would be costly interception, led to a Jacoby Jones 56-yard touchdown on the very next play, a 7-point swing.

Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) is unable to catch a pass in the end zone while defended by Baltimore Ravens free safety Ed Reed (20) on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

You would think this so called “Super Bowl” officiating crew, would brush up their calls from that point on, right? Wrong. On the game’s deciding play, 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree, was violated two yards in the endzone, by Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith. One would think, a “holding penalty” or “defensive pass interference” would follow; not this crew. They let the players decide the game. I understand letting the players play, but when a player is blatantly grabbing, pulling, and holding another player, at some point something needs to be called. As the NFL rulebook clearly states, under Rule 12, Section 1, Article 6:

It is a foul for defensive holding if a defensive player:

(a) tackles or holds any opponent other than a runner

Penalty: For defensive holding: Loss of five yards and automatic first-down.

Rule 8, Section 5, Article 1: (Pass interference)

It is pass interference by either team when any act by a player more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage significantly hinders the progress of an eligible receiver’s opportunity to catch the ball.

However, no penalty was called and as a result, the 49ers turned the ball over on downs, eventually costing them the Super Bowl.

Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baltimore Ravens punter Sam Koch (4) holds the ball in the end zone and takes a safety in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

To make matters worse, as the Ravens were punting in their own end-zone, Ravens tight-end Ed Dickson was holding onto 49ers running back Anthony Dixon for dear life. Although the holding penalty would not have stopped the clock during play, the “hold” allowed for an 8-second run off, with no call being made. A lose-lose for the 49ers.

I’m not saying the Ravens should not have won the Super Bowl; they clearly played very well, and much respect to them. All I want to emphasize is the importance of a few calls that may have swayed the outcome of the game.

Was it by coincidence, that many calls were blown due to the officiating controversy, that made headlines days before the game? If you don’t know what I am talking about, there was great debate, on whether head of officiating, Jerome Boger, should have been selected for the Super Bowl, with many other quality refs to choose from, such as Ed Hochuli.

We will never know for sure, but the selection process was in fact, completely flawed, leaving the 49ers to wonder “what if.”



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Tags: Baltimore Ravens Ed Hochuli San Francisco 49ers

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1301270611 Tina Ferguson-Davis

    Perfect words! I couldn’t agree more. By the way: I am a Raiders/Giants/Kings fan, but believe in all of our Bay Area teams and want them to win. I am happy for Ray Lewis, but come on, the ref’s make or break the win’s/losses. A Raven was blatantly pushing off a 9er with his facemask and the ref’s can’t see that, but they can see 2 9ers go offsides at the same time?? Seriously, we need Ed Hockuli to be cloaned, He is the only ref I trust. THANK YOU again for writing this article.

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      Thank you for your feedback Tina! I’m happy you agree.

  • goldenbaysports

    Yes, the refs may have missed some questionable calls, but at the end of the day: A team loses not because of the refs, but simply because they weren’t good enough.

    You can expect to play a horrible first half and have the refs bail you out in the Super Bowl, of all games.

    This loss lies solely on the shoulders of the coaching staff and players, not on the refs.

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      Thank you for your feedback Golden Gate Sports! Which btw everyone should visit!!!!! I have played sports all my life, and the refs do play a deciding factor in the outcome of the game. No matter, how good a team may be, as players we can only control so much.

      • goldenbaysports

        One of our staffers at Golden Gate Sports, you guys will love him over here at Niner Noise.

        Do the refs play a factor in the outcome? Absolutely. But not necessarily a deciding factor. There are so many things the 49ers could have done better and we wouldn’t even be talking about the refs at all.

        And look, if the 49ers won, Raven fans would be calling the power outage the MVP. That gave the Niners some unfair momentum and allowed them back into the game.

        • Ryan Sakamoto

          That’s a good point, but a power outage was affected equally by both teams involved…where as bad calls by refs singles out one team. Furthermore, the Ravens were up 28-6, if they can’t hold onto a lead like that, they shouldn’t have won in the first place. I agree, the 49ers should have played a little better in pass coverage and other areas as well, however, the game did end up being in the refs hands in the end, which greatly affected the outcome. One call can blow the game…and it certainly came true on Sunday.

    • az18

      I agree you can’t have the refs bail you out, but the refs werent even close to that. they seemed to bail the ravens out

      • Ryan Sakamoto

        Ravens had two penalties the WHOLE Game!!! 49ers had FIVE!!!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.c.frank Jonathan Charles Frank

      no way. there are calls that decide games. and this superbowl had at least two big ref blunders that resulted directly in ravens scores. they were the worst refs ever.

      • Ryan Sakamoto

        I couldn’t agree with you more Jonathan! A 14-point swing is too difficult for any team to recover from.

    • http://twitter.com/anchorman707 Gary Loomis

      Wow… a football game is 4 quarters and yes the 49ers were embarrassed in the 1st two and played horrible. The second two quarters they outplayed the Ravens twofold and should have won the game. In the end you only have stats to look at and the 49ers outplayed them in every major catagory. So who was actually better sunday, the Ravens, the 49ers, or the refs who determined the outcome?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.ashby.161 Dan Ashby


    • Ryan Sakamoto

      Thank you for your feedback Dan. A late hit out of bounds, was indeed not a late hit…if you look at Flacco (running out of bounds) his foot has yet to step out of bounds. Thus a great no call. Furthermore, this pass interference you speak of was questionable at best…and as for the players shoving each other, my argument was he shoved the ref not the player.

      • http://twitter.com/anchorman707 Gary Loomis

        Holy moly…. shoving each other? Did you really see the replays of play? Crabtree made a quick jig step inside and then bolted to the back of the end zone. The Raven cornerback bit on the inside move and got caught flat footed when he broke outside. The only play he had was to grab him which is exactly what any cornerback would have done or it’s TD game over. The pushing Crabtree did was in an attempt to get away from the guy holding him. I don’t agree neccessarily that it was holding or maybe not even pass interference but clearly the ball was in the air but what happen to the no contact rule outside of 5 yds from the line of scrimmage the ball was on the 5?

        • Bruce

          The ball was in the air it should have been Pass Interference as he made no attempt to play the ball…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000939612947 Justin Rank

      What are you talking about?!? Did you even watch the game? In fact, did you even read the article? I doubt you did, otherwise you wouldn’t have commented on the “and the play you speak of both players were shoving each other.” The article was clearly talking about shoving the ref…LOL! WOW!

    • http://www.facebook.com/bryan.stokes.756 Bryan Stokes

      Late hit out of bounds?!? Flacco’s foot wasn’t even out of bounds yet. LOL! Your shoving argument, however definitely takes the cake. Good argument Dan!

  • JoeF123

    How about the running into the kicker. He was not touched. Bad call in a Super Bowl. Game over after messing that call up The announcer said he could have been hurt. He was not run ito the defensive player was on the turf.

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      Thank you for you feedback JoeF123, please let me clarify on what “running into the kicker means.” It clearly states in Rule 12, Section 2, Article 10; “It is a foul for running into the kicker if a defensive player:”

      (b) slides under the kicker, preventing him from returning both feet to the ground…

      • Gggggunit

        JoeF just got pwned

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.c.frank Jonathan Charles Frank

      another blown call. should have been the 15-yard penalty. the kicker was actually hurt, and that is what the rule is supposed to prevent.

    • http://twitter.com/anchorman707 Gary Loomis

      need to know the rules before you make statements

      • JoeF123

        Flopped like a gay soccer player. Started to fall before he was barely touched. I know the rules and played the game but this call was not a good by the rules call. The kicker initiated the contact while the guy was on the ground.

  • JoeF123

    Holding in the end zone was a pay back for the holding over te middle against 49er’s in the Atlanta game. So quit crying.

    • az18

      to clarify, roddy white was shoved within 5 yards, before the ball was thrown, legal, and then navarro made a play on the ball. it would have been a murky call at best. on this play, contact was initially made within 5 yards, but as the ball was in the air jimmy smith grabbed crabtree, replay shows he had jersey, and prevented him from moving forward. and the analysts who say crabtree pushed off, that was in fact after his forward progress was impeded by the hold. the result wont change now, but the refs need to bc a showing like this should never happen again

    • Guest

      Bowman did not hold on that play, anyone who knows football knows that.

  • az18

    you forgot to mention the kick return td, where miller was bearhugged by two ravens as jacoby ran by. i wish i had access to replay

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.c.frank Jonathan Charles Frank

      az18 — i am glad someone else commented on this, because the ref crew could not possibly have not seen it, they just chose not to call it. i have NEVER seen a more obvious hold, and by TWO players at the same time to boot.

      • Ryan Sakamoto

        Thank you for the feedback Jonathan. I couldn’t agree with you more, I don’t want to make excuses for why the 49ers lost the game, but no matter how good a team may be, as a player they can only control so much…and for the people who say “refs” don’t impact the game just blows my mind…in this game the refs clearly favored the underdog Ravens with numerous “no-calls.” The article I wrote, were facts and the pictures in the article prove my point. I’m happy you share the same point of view.

  • az18

    and while we’re at it, can someone replay our failed two point conversion and tell me if ed reed was actually offsides or not?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.c.frank Jonathan Charles Frank

    this was the all time worst officiating in any big pro game that i have seen and i am 63 years old. the refs apparently decided not to call ANY holding, at least against the ravens. just look at the kickoff return td. two ravens embraced one 49er and held him for about 3-4 seconds as the return guy ran right by him. absolutely outrageous, that could not have been missed by a competent ref crew. and that was only one of many, including the final pass by kaepernick. this is the most flawed championship victory in nfl history. no question.

  • Joe

    Finally I see a mention of that hold on the safety at the end of the game!!!! That was beyond blatant. Dickson had his arms wrapped around Dixon’s waist and then held him again pulling on his shoulder from behind. I am a huge Niner fan, so I am biased but this is the first time I have ever thought “was that rigged?”

  • az18

    New thought: The refs made their stand against the bully. They finally got tired of all of Jim’s yelling and screaming at them. this was their way of saying ‘back off’. They werent going to give any cake to Jim

    • Bruce

      John was screaming during the outage thats ok right? He pushed a photogrrapher too and im sure had his own words with officials as well. Point is refs need to be nuetral and call the game as such. Some of the things being said by John during the black out were innapropriate as im sure anyone could see by reading his lips. Regardless of what may have been said pushing the ref is physical and i didnt see them punishing the Ravens for that…. Now who is the bully again?

  • Tim Dillon

    I was shocked they didn’t eject anyone after the fight. the play at the end was an alright no-call because there should have been calls on both sides so they would have offset anyway. lots of other missed calls though…

  • Cenobite

    I agree. The officials didn’t call this game like a playoff game in the least. Let alone a freakin super bowl. There was also a couple times where the niners got out of bounds on offensive plays and the timeclock kept running. We lost a good minute or two of play time. I need to go back and watch it again because I don’t remember exactly which plays they were. Boger has been making bs calls against us all season long. And no calls. He obviously has something against the 49ers and as soon as I saw him on the field I knew garbage calls were coming. He should change his name to Steve Mazzagatti.

    Both teams played a good game and unfortunately the 49ers D caved.

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      Boger is a horrible ref and by not having the players under control when that scuffle went down, clearly showed the amount of respect the players have for him…NONE!!

  • FedUpWithEurowhingers

    Yup, the officiating was amateurish at best. Can’t have one huge set of rules for the season, and fail to enforce discipline in the Big One. By the way, the complete lack of embarrassment from the local “powers that be” is illuminating in what is supposed to be the “Greatest Event in Sports.” I say we trade the city of New Orleans to the Castros in return for Cuba and a 7th round draft pick.

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      I totally agree! Why have rules if you don’t enforce them?!?

  • http://twitter.com/anchorman707 Gary Loomis

    The NFL is to blame for everything having to do with officiating. One has to wonder why the NFL in this years new agreement didn’t write into the deal that the officials have to be accountable and answer questions from the media immediately after the game, as the players have to. With no one but a bias and corrupt NFL office to be accountable to is a joke. You mentioned two rules that were violated in that final pass to Crabtree but how about this no brainer. Contact to a receiver outside of the first 5 yards from scrimmage is illegal and is a five yard penalty with an automatic first down. Seeing as the ball was on the five yard line this is an absolute no brainer. I would have a much better taste in my mouth if a flag was thrown and the officials called Crabtree for pushing off which clearly didn’t happen but at least a flag was thrown. NO FLAG? Are you kidding me? Wouldn’t you love to hear the line judge and back judge who were standing no more than 5-6 yards away explain to the media immediately after the game how 65,000 fans and millions around the world saw serious contact in the end zone while the ball was in flight but they didn’t? I can even understand if one threw a flag and one didn’t…. maybe bad angle(lol) but both? This game was decided prior to the kick-off and should have been called the “Ray Lewis Bowl” With no accountability you will continue to hear coaches and players complain and end up getting fined for it. Why not a referee media room after every game and let the media ask the questions so the combatants don’t have to. Answer…. NFL loses control of the games outcome.

  • FedUpWithEurowhingers

    Agree with all that refs were extremely poor. And while the Lights Out play was great, the Dark Ages were a World Embarrassment, since only a billion were watching. In this vein, that was the only “worldly” thing about it. So why all the incessant, Ravens’ ravin’, self-indulgent banging-on about a “world” championship? It’s the NFL, not the WFL, and last time I checked no non-U.S. teams were in it. Ditto the “World” Series. For that to be true, we’d have to play at least Venezuela and Japan and frankly, sometimes we get our plough cleaned. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve bled red and gold since Kezar days, and black and orange since Seals Stadium. No one could be more ecstatic about our ’9ers and Giants seasons. But no need to exaggerate, a “National”or “North American” championship would do. To see a real “World” Cup, we need to watch Rio next year.

  • heather

    There were calls that should of been made and there were calls that were completely ridiculous! I was livid with the way the refs were bluntly favoring the ravens!

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      I agree Heather, it was frustrating to say the least.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.kung Eric Kung

    Bro, there were some missed or questionable calls (on both sides), but I gotta take issue with the question regarding the safety. A holding penalty inside of the end zone would’ve resulted in a safety, so therefore, there really isn’t a difference one way or another. If fans want to blame the refs for the calls, then in that same breath, they must admit that the Niners held Roddy White in the previous week and recant the flag allowing Akers a second chance at the missed field goal.

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      Thank you for the feedback Eric, however the hold allowed for an “8-second run off” by holding a player you are preventing him from forcing the punter out of bounds, which results in more time being run off the clock. Furthermore, White was contained due to great defensive play no flags were necessary and the game was officiated equally on both sides.

  • Mr. Reality

    Typical Niner Fans!!! You guys lose and the next thing that follows….Blame the refs…. You guys have been doing it for 30 years!!! Yes…There were some bad calls and non-calls like the late hit on Flacco that should have extended the Ravens drive in the red zone….What about Akers fake roughing? Video shows he was never touched! How come you don’t talk about that? One more…. If the power outage did not occur, you guys would have gotten trounced 52-6 and you know it. So instead of complaining how unlucky you were think about how really lucky you got. I hope your team falls apart.

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      Thank you for your feedback Mr. Reality. The fact was indeed a “running into the kicker” and not the “roughing” the kicker you claim. It clearly states in Rule 12, Section 2, Article 10; “It is a foul for running into the kicker if a defensive player:”

      (b) slides under the kicker, preventing him from returning both feet to the ground…

      As far as the power outage is concerned, that affected both teams where as bad calls resulted in a 14-point swing.

    • Bruce

      30 years really thats an ignorant statement in my book fact is calls were missed why bother to have rules if they arent going to be enforced properly. The pushing of the ref should have been an ejection PERIOD. The holding at the end was blatent on both the punt and the Crabtree pass same with the kickoff holding is holding…Not to mention a few other times when.49er defense was barreling down on Flacco. There was another passing play where the defender clearly grabbed the recievers arm before the ball was there while it was in the air that play he was behind the defense which would have been a td. The fact is calls were missed all the way around and for there to only be 2 calls called on the Ravens is bs and a poorly called game impo. Just the Nfls way of giving lewis a ring in my book

      • Ryan Sakamoto

        Thank you for the feedback Bruce, and you make valid points. I 100% agree with you.

  • Joe Smith

    the bottom line is Niners were a better team we ranked way higher than Ravens offensively and defensively, I chatted with friends afterwards and we couldn’t figure what we could have done differently? The James Fumble was refs fault, James was all wrapped up the whistle should have blown, but the refs wanted Niners players to take extra hits. And our secondary making in any contact with the ravens receivers was called everytime! We were the younger faster stronger team, but I think Goodell and Refs wanted a STORY book ending for Ray lewis, and didn’t it come out the NFL didn’t want a Tattooed thug looking QB like Kaepernick as a SB MVP, so it was deliberate to sabotage the Niner game. Look at the early formation call? I used to play football and the Refs would usually give you a warning before they would flag that, they would tell my team to watch who lines up, then throw the flag if it continued. The Niners were cheated, the league wanted to orchestrate an east coast win, it would help their business. We can all sit and say oh theres always next year, but tell me, even if we are the best team going into Superbowl 48, Will the refs and Goodell let us win?

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      Thank you for the feedback Joe Smith. Very valid points you just made.

  • john

    All year long fans complain about the refs constantly throwing flags. Now, they don’t throw them, and everyone is complaining. Well, 49er fans that is, for the most part.
    Get over it. The team lost the game, a game in which the played well and battled hard. I am neither a 49er or Raven fan but enjoyed the game very much and thought it was one the BEST officiated games I’ve seen in a long time.
    You can bank on one thing, if the 49ers did win, the MVP of the game would have been the New Orleans power company. That had a lot more to do with the game than the refs.
    You got a great team that will be that way for many years. Be happy. I’m a Chief fan. Maybe in a couple years Alex Smith will get his revenge when he becomes the KC QB this year and they face in the SB.

    • Ryan Sakamoto

      Thank you for your feedback John.

  • disqus_RRpvG91Znv

    Its bullzhit I thaught nobody seen that hold on miller by two ravens on the kickoff return….. I was screaming my head off….. ive never seen nothing like it…….