Sometimes, slow motion distorts the real view. Look at this play again in real time, and you'll see the ball is out immediately when the second foot touches the ground. That's not a catch, folks.
• However, Josh Levin of Slate.com isn't sure the explanation that it was an incomplete pass is that easy.
On CBS' replay, with the players' movements slowed down to a comprehensible speed, the order of operations became clearer. In super slo-mo, you can see Evans cradle the ball, land on his right foot, and get the ball raked away as his left foot touches the ground. According to the NFL rule, "If a player controls the ball while in the end zone, both feet, or any part of his body other than his hands, must be completely on the ground before losing control, or the pass is incomplete." If you apply that definition, the replay revealed that Evans kind of caught the ball for maybe a touchdown
and maybe he kind of didn't.
• In his Monday Morning Quarterback column, SI.com's Peter King also questions the non-review on the play to Evans in the final minute.
I thought so. Mike Pereira on FOX and a league statement both had Burns acting properly, but my question is: What's the rush? That's a season-altering play right there, the difference between making the Super Bowl or going home for the winter. I've watched it 10 or 12 times now and it looks very close -- though it certainly would have been difficult to overturn even if you thought it appeared that Evans had two feet down and exhibited clear possession. I just thought the gravity of the situation should have mandated a review. God knows the game is stopped for elbows hitting the ground and 12 inches of real estate on poor spots. "I'm surprised they didn't look at it,'' said John Harbaugh. As am I. Now, for the many of you wanting to crucify Evans for the play: I don't. Should he have lock-gripped the ball to prevent stripping? Yes, of course. But New England cornerback Sterling Moore has a job to do there too, and that job is to chop down on the hands of Evans as soon as the ball is in his grasp. Evans didn't have time to secure it well enough -- though it's obviously going to be a play that will tear at him for years. Evans went to Baltimore after a career of frustration in Buffalo, just hoping he could get to a Super Bowl. He had that Super Bowl trip in his hands, and he had it stripped away.
• On FoxSports.com, former Ravens coach Brian Billick says Cundiff shouldn't be the only person taking the blame for the Ravens' loss.
I thought it would take a perfect day from Brady for the Patriots to stand a chance, but it was quite the opposite. It was the defense that kept them in this game with consistent pressure on Joe Flacco and making plays when they absolutely needed them. Lee Evans will get a ton of criticism in Baltimore for the dropped touchdown, but I see it differently. Evans made a great play on the ball and initially caught it in his hands, without a bobble, but the Patriots defender made an excellent play by chopping his arm right between the hands of Evans, just as he is coached to do. I struggle to call that a drop.
• The Chicago Sun-Times' Richard Roeper writes about his sympathy for Cundiff after the miss in front of a national television audience.
So I felt bad for Cundiff. Maybe you did, too. Or maybe you were one of the fans who laughed about it on social media and began taunting Cundiff, like fourth-graders mocking a kid who suffers an embarrassment on the playground. (Other noble souls actually sent death threats to Cundiff or to Kyle Williams of the 49ers. We have a new definition for "pathetic.")
• In a separate post on ESPN.com, Hensley talks about Flacco's future in Charm City.
Flacco isn't going to the Super Bowl, but the Ravens quarterback did enough to prove he can take a team there.
He was composed in the pocket. He rolled away from pressure, making plays by throwing on the run and scrambling for first downs. Flacco hardly looked like a "rattled" quarterback, which is how teammate Ed Reed described him in last week's playoff game.
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[Compiled by Dean Jones Jr.]