49ers' Coach Questions Ref's Call On Pass Interference At Super Bowl

Robert Siegel talks to Mike Pesca about Sunday's Super Bowl, a game complete with a dramatic finish and a bizarre power outage. San Francisco 49ers players are questioning whether the referees missed a pass interference call that would have given them one more shot at going ahead in the final minutes of the game. And Super Dome officials are still investigating what caused the 34 minute outage that left half the Super Dome in the dark.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Twenty-four hours after Super Bowl XLVII, the headlines are: superstar Beyonce and a midgame power outage. But in addition to the hip-shaking and the strange third quarter intermission, there was also some pretty good football played last night in New Orleans. The Baltimore Ravens proved they were no fluke. They held off a come-back by the San Francisco 49ers to win the pro-football championship, 34 to 31.

NPR's Mike Pesca was at the game and he's with us now. And, Mike, let's start with the power outage. The problem appeared to be isolated to the Superdome. Any word on the cause?

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Well, there is no word. Roger Goodell had a press conference, along with Doug Thornton, who's the senior vice president for SMG, which runs venues like the Superdome. And they just described it as a piece of equipment sensed an issue or an abnormality and shut down, that's what should happen.

There is just one fact they wanted to emphasize over and over, that it wasn't Beyonce's fault. They said that Beyonce was running on 100 percent-generated power, and that the amps in the Superdome actually went down, because the house lights were off.

You know, I went down to the first level to investigate while this was going on. I found the engineering room. It wasn't - I wouldn't call it chaotic. There was a lot of activity going in and out. I talk to someone inside the room, not an electrical engineer, but a person who is a technician for the air conditioning. And Garland Weber(ph) is his name, and he described it as once that happens - once the shutdown happens - things went pretty much according to how they are supposed to go.

SIEGEL: Well, after the outage, there was a momentum shift to San Francisco. They made a remarkable comeback, and the 49ers were just a few yards away from the end zone at the end of the game, a few yards away from taking the lead. To me, the only mystery apart from the outage was why did the 49ers call the plays that they did when they were five yards away from the end zone?

PESCA: Right. So with two minutes left, it was three pass plays. And, of course, we journalists asked the 49ers these questions. It turns out Colin Kaepernick, the 49er quarterback, had the opportunity to run the ball if he wanted to on that second downplay. Now, if you look at the tape, you'll see he rolled right and there's about five or six Raven defenders between him, or a little bit inside the goal line.

The Ravens' defenders said they were specifically playing to take away the run. They were so in fear of Colin Kaepernick's athletic ability and ability to make a play with his legs. So this was the perfect defense to defend a running play. And that's why he threw it. He took what the defense gave them. On third down, this was a design pass play and that just didn't work out.

SIEGEL: Yeah, what about fourth down? They missed three times. Was there pass interference on the last play?

PESCA: Well, that's a good question. But this was also a case where people were saying, Why did they run again? First of all, Colin Kaepernick said that he changed the play at the line of scrimmage.

COLIN KAEPERNICK: That wasn't the original option. It's something I audibled to at the line based on the look they gave us.

PESCA: And if we saw the play, it was a high arching throw intended for Michael Crabtree. There was some sort of holding. The coach of the 49ers, Jim Harbaugh, he questioned the call.

JIM HARBAUGH: Yes, there's no question in my mind that there was a pass interference, and then a hold on Crabtree on the last one.

PESCA: And he also said that there's pass interference on second down. There were a number place he thought that there was pass interference or bad calls. And Michael Crabtree himself, though, shed some light on maybe why the penalty wasn't called.

MICHAEL CRABTREE: If I would have been a little lower, to give me a chance to make a play, I'm sure they would have called it. You know?

PESCA: See, what he's saying there is that the ball might have been thrown so high over his head and that it was deemed uncatchable.

SIEGEL: Uncatchable, yeah.

PESCA: Right. And the sidelines are six feet wide. The ball landed about in the mid-white of the sidelines. And so, maybe we could judge that he wouldn't have caught it even if he wasn't held up by the Ravens' defender.

SIEGEL: All told, though, a pretty good Super Bowl, huh?

PESCA: Yeah, with a little bit of darkness. And, as you said, hip-shaking not just from Beyonce, but from Colin Kaepernick, Jacoby Jones, and all the players too.

(LAUGHTER)

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Mike Pesca in New Orleans, talking about last night's Super Bowl. Thanks, Mike

PESCA: You're welcome.

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