Fred Gaudelli thought the same thing that many at home thought when Kelvin Hayden intercepted a Michael Vick pass in the third quarter of Sunday night's Eagles-Falcons game.
"As soon as I saw that play the first thing I thought was, 'Did he catch that ball?'" Gaudelli said.
Unlike viewers at home, however, Gaudelli had a birds' eye view of the play that many thought coach Andy Reid should have challenged in the Eagles' 35-31 loss at Atlanta. He's the producer of "Sunday Night Football" for NBC.
Because the networks that broadcast NFL games are responsible for providing replays to teams, Gaudelli did what he's done for years: He ran back a series of replays as quickly as possible for the Eagles in the visiting coaches booth at the Georgia Dome -- and for viewers at home.
How much confidence do you have in Mike Kafka if Michael Vick and Vince Young can’t play against the Giants?
|Lots of confidence. He showed he can get the job done against the Falcons.|
|| 483 (31.7%)
|Some confidence. He knows the offense as well as Vick and better than Young.|
|| 843 (55.4%)
|No confidence. He has done nothing to make me feel good.|
|| 197 (12.9%)
Total votes = 1523
"You're just getting up replays so the coaches would have something to see," Gaudelli said.
Based on the play occurring in the middle of the field, Gaudelli said he knew there would be two or three angles to view the replay. For Sunday Night Football, NBC has 20 cameras surrounding the field, more than any other network broadcast for a regular-season game.
The first two replays shown directly behind the Eagles offense were inconclusive. The third replay shown came from a camera perched at the opposite end of the field, and toward the end the ball could be seen coming out of Hayden's arms. But NBC cut away.
"As we got to the third replay I noticed [Falcons quarterback] Matt Ryan had broken the huddle," on the ensuing possession, Gaudelli said. "I would have let it run longer."
Forty seconds elapsed in between the end of play involving the interception under question and the start of the next play. Based on the replays, Reid and his coaches had very little information in very little time to make a decision on whether to challenge.
The Falcons needed only two plays to score a touchdown and expand their lead to 21-10. When NBC went to commerical Gaudelli said that he decided to look at the pick from another angle -- the 45-degree one shot from behind the Eagles offense.
"And I said, 'Hey, he did not catch it,'" Gaudelli said.
He alerted broadcasters Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth and that replay was shown following the commercial break, although it was a case of too little, too late.
"Our job is about getting it right," Gaudelli said. "Personally, I was disappointed."
Gaudelli sent an apology to Reid via an e-mail to an Eagles spokesman.
“Well there was no replay for us to look at, and I actually had the people from the broadcast apologize, send me an email and apologize on that, but listen, that’s hindsight now," Reid said.
There is no mention in the official NFL rulebook as to why coaches are reliant on network broadcasts for replays. League spokesman Greg Aiello, in an e-mail, wrote, coaches "have in their booth the same network TV feed as everyone else."
"They have no other choice, unless the NFL wanted to put in their own camera system," Gaudelli said. "The only thing they have to rely on is the TV broadcasts."