Here is the entire exchange between McCarthy and reporters on the first of several blown calls, the Al Harris strip of Terrell Owens. Very interesting.
The play you challenged with Al taking the ball from Owens, what are you allowed to challenge?
If you watch it on film, it’s clear. You have one referee says it’s a catch and forward progress. And the other referee comes in and says it’s an interception. The ruling on the field was it was forward progress. Once you’re in the area of forward progress, then the completion is done. You can’t go backwards. So what I attempted to challenge was the incomplete. Just the conversation, I thought their crew did a good job with the communication part of it. He could not go back on the forward progress. Once it was declared forward, obviously the completion was in tact.
Do you think forward progress was stopped?
That’s why I challenged it. That was a call that frankly should have went our way. But the forward progress, once you make that call, the interception is out the window. It’s not an option as far as the challenge.
So that’s different than the rule they changed for replay with down-by-contact and change of possession?
Once they clarify that the call on the field is forward progress, the only thing you can challenge is incomplete, complete or interception. So you’re really knocked out of the box in a sense of challenging that particular call.
But you did anyway?
The conversation that we had, because obviously we huddled with John Parry and a couple of those guys, and what I attempted to challenge was it was an incomplete pass. Because I was hoping that the interception would have been ruled an incomplete pass, but it just didn’t work out that way. They couldn’t overturn it.
My reaction: Huh? If they literally “couldn’t overturn it,” then the referees never should have let McCarthy challenge the call (as Greg Bedard pointed out in real time). And it turns out we could have used that challenge later, on the 3rd down spot when Ryan Grant came up just short of a first down. (I think he actually was short, but it was certainly worth a challenge at that point in the game.)