Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

September 14, 2009
Explaining Murphy's overturned TD

From the moment the referees overturned Louis Murphy's second-quarter touchdown, you just knew those lost four points - Sebastian Janikowski instead kicked a 37-yard field goal - would come back to haunt the Raiders.

Chargers 24, Raiders 20.

So go ahead, Raider Nation, scream about being on the other end of a hose job - again. You have a shoulder to cry on here. Because even while it turns out the ruling was correct by the, ahem, law of the land, it doesn't seem fair or right. It's certainly not in the spirit of the game.

Kinda like the Tuck Rule, which launched a dynasty in New England and hastened the Raiders' six-year plunge into the abyss a year later.

Here's how AOL Fanhouse explains the rule.

And here's a transcript of pool reporter Steve Corkran's discussion with referee Carl Cheffer, whose crew overturned the TD.

Cheffers: OK, so what's the question?
Corkran: We just want the ruling on why you decided to look at the play at the end of half on when you called touchdown for Louis Murphy, then you said that you wanted to review it, and then it got overturned. What was the ruling on that?

Cheffers: OK, great, let me just grab the (rule) book here, and I'm going to read you what the book says. We had a situation where the receiver caught the pass in the air and as he is coming down to the ground, he is actually going to the ground. That's a defined term in our rule book, a player, a receiver who is going to the ground. The rule book says, if a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass, with or without contact by opponent - so that can be on his own; In this case, he got hit by an opponent - he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or in the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete. That wasn't the case. What we ruled, what we saw in replay, was that he was going to the ground, as he came down the ball came loose, he lost control of the ball, the ball skidded along the ground, he eventually completely lost control of the ball. So, by rule, by what we saw in review, it's an incomplete pass.

Corkran: So, this has nothing to do with him having to - he got both feet down - it has nothing to do with that, it has nothing to do with making a football move? It's just what you said there?
Cheffers: Yeah, he was up, I think if I remember, (on) one foot, he was getting contacted prior to his second foot coming down. By definition in our rule book, he's going to the ground and has to maintain possession of the ball throughout the entire act of the catch. And in this case, he lost possession and the ball hit the ground. Therefore, it's incomplete.

Corkran: It was pretty clear-cut?
Cheffers: Pretty clear-cut.

Corkran: Carl, thank you for your time.
Cheffers: My pleasure.

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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