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Tuesday, September 30: Just Because You're Paranoid…

Posted by Matt Terl on September 30, 2008 – 8:03 am

Given that I spent a whole bunch of words yesterday reveling in the fact that a couple of sportswriters gave the Redskins credit for a non-fluke victory, I think it’s safe to say that I have a little bit of a complex when it comes to the credit the Redskins get. It’s not just me, of course; almost all Redskins fans are convinced that half the major media writers (Dr. Z, Peter King, Len Pasquarelli) hate their team, and even Santana Moss mentioned in his press conference yesterday that “That’s how it is. I don’t think Redskins ever get any credit for doin’ nothin’…. You know, whether you go to the playoffs one year or not, we always gonna be that team that you look down on.”

So it stood to reason that someone was going to find some way to question the Redskins win yesterday. Michael David Smith at NFL Fanhouse finds (via The Landry Hat) a way to do that: in a game that the Redskins won by two points, it would certainly raise some questions if a field goal that was called good actually went wide left.

The video on NFL.com completely fails to convince me either way, and pausing it at 2:17 (as The Landry Hat suggests) doesn’t really clarify matters. Here’s a screen capture at that spot.

Leaving aside the fact that it is impossible to judge precisely where the ball is in relation to the end line at a given time from this angle, here’s the same screen capture of the same moment with the ball circled and the upright extended to infinity (or to the border of the image, which complies better with the laws of physics and saves me some complicated math).

At the very least, this proves that you cannot accurately determine where the ball is in relation to the crossbar from this camera angle, and also that – at a point that looks to me like it’s about where the ball crosses the goalpost – it’s inside the upright.

Smith disagrees with me:

I believe that the ball went just wide left (to the right from the vantage point of watching the NFL.com highlights) and the official standing directly under the goal post screwed up.

It’s possible that I’m seeing it wrong on the replay and the official under the goal post saw it right, but I don’t think so: I’ve reviewed the play frame-by-frame in high-definition via the DirecTV short cut, and I think the camera angle actually gives people watching on TV a better view than the on-field official had. It’s a strange call to get wrong, but I think that official did.

I’m skeptical that any camera angle can be a better view of whether a ball cleared the upright than standing directly underneath the upright in question, but Smith seems pretty firm on the subject, and he’s not usually one given to histrionics.

Leaving aside the whole “even if the Redskins missed the field goal, there’s no guarantee that the rest of the game goes the way it did so you can’t say they’d lose” argument, because it is impossible to prove and therefore pointless, there’s another screen capture from the highlights that is ultimately more relevant to the actual outcome of the game than any of the above theorizing.

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