A potentially huge moment in last night’s game resulted in a thud, when Raiders receiver Amari Cooper got turned around by a weirdly fluttering long throw, and couldn’t track down what might’ve gone for a big touchdown. Based on the video, some fans are wondering if the ball might’ve clipped a wire on the Skycam. NBC says it didn’t.
Derek Carr had a rough night, but we might be talking about it very differently if Carr had found Cooper on this long toss in the fourth quarter. If he had caught it in stride, Cooper likely would’ve found the end zone, and the Raiders would’ve had a chance to go for two and the tie. Instead, neither team scored again.
Cooper definitely got done dirty by that ball. But was the Skycam to blame? In a statement to the Sports Video Group, NBC Sports spokesperson Dan Masonson said,
“The overhead camera is positioned behind the line of scrimmage, so the cables would not be in play.”
The Skycam (a brand name, like the competing SpiderCam and CableCam) is used by NBC for those low, swooping shots over the field, and we’ve seen overhead camera wires interfere with punts before. (We’ve seen the entire system crash down, too, even in the NFL.)
The NFL rulebook even specifically mentions overhead cameras—if a ball strikes one, or its wires, the down is to be replayed.
But this one looks like human error on the part of the passer. Derek Carr is dealing with a dislocated pinky and his throws were off all night, and this one, as you can see in the slow-motion video below, came out of his hand with a pronounced wobble. It leaves the screen for a moment—it was windy last night, and Arrowhead Stadium is known for some weird currents—and is fully knuckling by the time it re-enters our field of vision.
If the Skycam wasn’t there, the only explanation is that the wind got ahold of an already shaky ball and took it somewhere Cooper wasn’t expecting.
“That’s why it looked like I might have stumbled,” said Cooper. “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.”
Update, 12:14 p.m.: Fred Gaudelli, executive producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and Thursday Night Football, emailed us this:
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.