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Wind, not camera wire, caused ball to move on critical incompletion from Derek Carr to Amari Cooper

derek carr
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders had a number of chances to come back and tie the Chiefs in the fourth quarter of last night’s game. Even though they reached the red zone later, their best opportunity might’ve come from their own 28-yard line.

With the AFC West lead on the line, Oakland faced a 3rd down with over nine minutes left to play, trailing 21-13. The Raiders’ primary deep threat, Amari Cooper, broke free down the field and Derek Carr took his shot. It looked like Cooper would be able to run under the ball and possibly into the end zone, but at the last moment, Amari stopped sprinting and attempted to adjust his route. It was too late; the ball hit the ground just to his left. Fourth down.

NBC’s color commentator Cris Collinsworth believed that Cooper simply had trouble tracking the ball, but SportsCenter Senior Researcher Jason McCallum speculated that the pass actually hit NBC’s Skycam:

You be the judge

Here’s the play in question:

Derek’s brother David agreed:

If the ball hits the wire, the play is supposed to be whistled dead, and the down is replayed. This can be reviewed, and it was. However, there was no conclusive evidence that the ball hit anything. Cooper’s reaction played a role in that, via ESPN’s Ed Werder:

NFL review of long pass from Carr-to-Cooper could not conclusively determine whether ball may have struck TV cable over playing field.

NFL viewed as odd Amari Cooper’s reaction to ball in flight, but observed he didn’t react strongly after play as if saw ball hit something.

The Skycam, exactly like to ESPN’s SpiderCam, is used for low, swooping shots that give viewers a unique, closer perspective of the action on the field. NBC Sports spokesperson Dan Masonson told the Sports Video Group, the Skycam is positioned behind the line of scrimmage, making it impossible for the cable to be in play.

Putting the issue to rest?

Many fans still didn’t believe it. However, this explanation from Fred Gaudelli, executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football, seems to provide the best evidence for the Skycam not interfering:

Look at the replay we showed from sky cam – if anything hits the wire it would effect a bump in the camera and you would see that on the air. Also look at the replay after the commercial – look how the ball comes off of Carr’s hand and his follow through – not his normal delivery.

The part bolded is important to note. In the video above, NBC shows a replay from the Skycam, which is positioned behind the line of scrimmage. That’s the only overheard camera the network has in place, so any wire over the field is connected to that camera. Like Gaudelli said, if the wire had been hit, viewers would’ve witnessed the camera angel shaking. That simply wasn’t the case.

Cooper’s explanation

If you still aren’t convinced, Cooper blamed the extremely windy conditions in Kansas City for the changed flight on the ball, causing him to lose track.

From ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez:

“That’s why it looked like I might have stumbled,” said Cooper, who had five catches for 29 yards. “I was running in the right direction and it kind of moved inside at the last minute and I didn’t have time to get it.”

Regardless, Oakland had a number of opportunities to win this game and couldn’t come through. The Raiders defense forced two turnovers early in the second half deep in Chiefs territory, but they only scored three points off of them. Then, with a chance to tie in the final minutes, they ran a pair of fade routes on 3rd and 4th-and-1 in the red zone. Neither was completed, and Kansas City was able to run out the clock.

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