It was the match-up of the 2013 NFL season the San Francisco 49ers clashing with the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field for the NFC Championship. On paper it seemed that way, unfortunately that didn’t happen even with the a game decided in the closing seconds.
The reason being Gene Steratore and his officaiting crew. Donte Whitner became victim again of another call for targeting the head or neck area of a receiver against Luke Wilson and there are two reasons why the call didn’t have any validity. Wilson got hit by Eric Reid who make a play on the ball changing the path of the tight end and Whitner was already in the process of lowering his shoulder to dislodge the ball, which he successfully did. As for the hit itself the only point of contact was a glancing blow off the shoulder pad not even close to the head or neck area.
Shortly before the first half ended Russell Wilson threw an incomplete pass on fourth down giving the 49ers the ball and excellent field position with 20 seconds left. Yet, Carlos Rogers got called for unnecessary roughness a dead ball foul so the turnover counted. The 15 yard penalty resulted in forcing quarterback Colin Kaepernick to run out the clock with a 10-3 lead at halftime. Similar plays happen in nearly every football game and never get called so how come the flag wasn’t picked up after the officiating crew huddled together?
During the second half it didn’t get better for Steratore’s crew either. Former 49er Chris Maragos rolled up under punter Andy Lee and his shoulder went into the plant leg of Lee. By rule that’s roughing the punter, 15 yards and an automatic first down. Somehow running into the punter got called with only a five yard penalty assessed and Harbaugh declined the penalty allowing the Seahawks to have a nice starting spot for their next drive. By not making the correct call it robbed the 49ers a chance to score on back-to-back possessions.
Quite possibly the biggest blunder of the game came on a tremendous play by linebacker Navorro Bowman who is arguably is the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. With the Seahawks facing third and goal Jermaine Kearse caught a pass short of the goal line while while fighting for the goal line Reid pushed Kearse into Bowman who ripped the ball out of his arms clearly recovering the fumble. Since the play itself isn’t reviewable by league rules Seattle managed to keep the ball just short of the end zone.
Even worse is that during the play needed a cart to come out as during the entire play Bowman’s knee got bent awkwardly as more players joined in the pile. Even with the naked eye the play it clearly showed the turnover. Pete Carroll did have the offense go for it on fourth down yet a high handoff to Marshawn Lych got mishandled and even with Ahmad Brooks not picking up the fumble it pushed the recovery spot giving the 49ers better field position.
So what had the appearances of one of the better games in recent playoff memories it is now marred by the incompetency of Steratore and his crew which is a shame.