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What if it was a 99-yard interception return?



Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers vs. Cardinals

Video of play from

Video from

James Harison’s goal-line-to-goal-line run fortunately, and correctly, survived the replay review, but would not have been entirely disasterous if overturned.

Even though time expired during the play, an Arizona facemask call would have given the Steelers another shot at the end zone. Being a personal foul, as I understand it, would have been enforced from the end of the run, which would have been a three-blades-of-grass-distance penalty. And, since the Steelers became the offense the instant the ball was intercepted, they would have been able to extend the quarter by one untimed down by rule.

Fortunately, the play stood, and the 100-yard, record-setting rumble overtook Lynn Swann’s acrobatic catch in Super Bowl X as the greatest Steeler catch in Super Bowl history. For almost two quarters, at least.

One final note on the replay: NBC had 52 cameras covering the game and at the disposal of replay review. In a regular-season game, the network will have fixed camera locations at the 20s and the 50-yard line. NBC mixed in two goal-line-plane cameras to the live coverage, which came in handy for two of the reviews. This also gave us the awkward angle for the live shot on the interception return, since the same camera followed the play from coast to coast. But once we saw the replay from the camera 100 yards away, it was clear this was a score. The remaining 255 games played during the NFL season do not have these superb angles, leading to the dreaded “inconclusive evidence” ruling.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)