Oct 5, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Andre Caldwell (12) before the start of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
No matter what you thought of the officiating in the Broncos vs. Chargers game last Thursday night, it’s time for everyone to stop whining about the call that was made on a critical kickoff return by Andre Caldwell of the Denver Broncos.
Caldwell foolishly took the ball out of the end zone in the first place, and then he was reckless with the football. The ball was jarred loose just as Caldwell hit the ground, and as his forearm made contact, the ball started to come loose. Caldwell didn’t lose control of the ball until after his forearm was down, and while the original call on the field was a fumble recovered by San Diego, the result of the play was ultimately reversed to the Broncos maintaining possession.
It was a close call, and there needed to be indisputable evidence, and there was. Reading Peter King’s Monday column, you get a pretty clear explanation of the play and the resulting call.
"I think I’d make two points about the Andre Caldwell replay Thursday night in Denver-San Diego, the one that has generated so much attention:You’re not going to convince me the replay was botched. I believe referee Terry McAulay got it right when he went under the hood, ruling the original call on the field of a fumble should be overturned. The key thing to watch, and I urge you togo back and study it: When Caldwell’s forearm touches the ground, look at the ball in the crook of his arm. Caldwell still has it, though almost simultaneously to the forearm touching the ground, the ball moves in his arm. The key thing is, the ball moves but is not knocked away. “Slight movement does not constitute a loss of possession,” NFL VP of officiating Dean Blandino said on his officiating training tape for the media and for teams over the weekend. “The forearm was down, and the player still had control of the loose ball.”Just because a play is close does not mean it cannot be overturned. I have been an advocate that a replay has to show irrefutable evidence for a call on the field to be overturned. Yes, this play is close. Yes, there is clear evidence that Caldwell possessed it when his forearm hit the ground, meaning it should have been overturned."
So there. If that doesn’t convince you, then you’re beyond reason.
This is not all to excuse the poor play that Caldwell made. He should not have taken the ball out and perhaps shouldn’t be allowed to the rest of the season. The Broncos have a weakness in this area of their special teams unit, and Caldwell has amplified that. He has been a liability for a majority of his reps on the field, so he’s either going to need to pick things up or the Broncos need to trot Cody Latimer out there for Caldwell’s snaps.