Of all the weird plays that occurred in the Thursday Night game between the Raiders and Chiefs (and by weird, mostly I just mean out of character), none were more strange than a deep pass in the fourth quarter from Derek Carr intended for Amari Cooper.
Carr stepped up in the pocket and heaved the ball to Cooper who had broken free and was wide open behind the Chiefs secondary. What appeared initially could be a long touchdown pass — that would have put the Raiders within a 2-point conversion of tying the game late — quickly ended with Carr’s seeming spiral dropping like wounded duck in front of a befuddled Amari Cooper.
“I didn’t stumble. The ball as it was coming down moved at the last minute,” said Cooper after the game. “That’s why it looked like I might have stumbled. 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.”
None of the players or coaches on either team could explain it either.
There wasn’t single viewer who could say definitively what happened on the play. It was like the ball hit something in the air. This led many to believe the ball had hit the spider camera wire above the stadium.
The site Awful Announcing did a piece on it in which they show diagrams of how the spider cam typically runs across stadiums, but they too were unable to say whether the ball could have hit the wire.
Upon another viewing on coaches film, or ‘All 22’ as many call it, the ball exits frame just as the trajectory changes so that view was also inconclusive.
Today NBC Sports spokesman Dan Masonson told Sports Video Group “The overhead camera is positioned behind the line of scrimmage, so the cables would not be in play.”
Fred Gaudelli, executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football, also responded to Deadspin’s Barry Petchesky via email expanding on the account.
“No way Barry – the camera is always behind the play and cables are really high over the surface. 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.”
So, there you have it. It was because it was not Derek Carr’s “normal delivery”. Hard to argue, honestly. Carr was off all night, uncharacteristically missing on passes he normally throws without issue. Presumably because his injured pinkie finger was affected by the cold weather.
The idea of the ball hitting the wire always seemed a bit far-fetched. But in instances like that, which appeared to have no logical explanation, the idea of it hitting a wire was preferable to a ghost, UFO, or sniper fire.