NFL Says Cardinals' Final Play Was Fumble

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The NFL says that an instant replay review was conducted by the replay official Sunday on the Arizona Cardinals' final offensive play in the Super Bowl, a fumble by quarterback Kurt Warner, and the play was called correctly.

Warner reportedly questioned after the game why play wasn't stopped and a replay review wasn't done by the referee, feeling there was a possibility that the play should have been ruled an incomplete pass because Warner's arm was going forward. That would have enabled the Cardinals to retain possession of the ball at the 44-yard line of the Pittsburgh Steelers with five seconds remaining in the game.

The Steelers also were penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play. So a ruling of an incomplete pass might have given the Cardinals a final play from the Steelers 29-yard line.

Instead, the Steelers took possession and used one kneel-down by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to run the final seconds off the clock. They won, 27-23, for their record sixth Super Bowl title.

An NFL spokesman said yesterday that the play was reviewed in the booth by replay assistant Bob McGrath. He determined that the play was clearly a fumble and there was no reason for referee Terry McAulay to review it.

Mike Pereira, the NFL's vice president of officiating, reviewed the play and confirmed it was called correctly, according to the spokesman.

"The play was reviewed and confirmed by the replay assistant in the booth," Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, said in a written statement. "That is standard procedure. If it is clear, there is no reason to send it to the referee. Mike Pereira said it was properly handled. It was a fumble."

On the replay, it appeared that the ball was knocked from Warner's hand and he no longer was in control of the ball by the time his arm was moving forward.

The Cardinals could not issue a replay challenge because the game was in the final two minutes, in which reviews are under the control of the replay booth. The Cardinals won two replay challenges earlier in the game.

· RATINGS DOWN: Nielsen's overnight measurements in the nation's largest cities showed that Sunday's Super Bowl on NBC registered a 42.1 rating, the Associated Press reported.

That puts the Steelers' victory over the Cardinals down from the most-watched Super Bowl ever last season, when the Giants' upset of the previously unbeaten Patriots had a 44.7 rating on the same measurement, according to the AP.

But the measurement for the Steelers-Cardinals game would be comparable to the two Super Bowls before last season's, the AP reported. Viewership numbers were not immediately available, but the AP estimated that number to be approximately 90 million viewers nationwide for Sunday's game.

· TIME TO CELEBRATE: Pittsburgh schools opened two hours late yesterday after Sunday's Super Bowl triumph by the Steelers, the Associated Press reported.

The Steelers are to be honored with a parade today in Pittsburgh. An estimated 250,000 people were on hand for the parade that followed the Steelers' last Super Bowl triumph three years ago, the AP reported.

-- Mark Maske

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