During the Super Bowl, NBC Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth garnered the anger of Eagles fans across the country when he incorrectly predicted that two touchdown catches — one by running back Corey Clement and one by tight end Zach Ertz — would be overturned by officials.
"I would have called that incomplete," a frustrated Collinsworth said during the Super Bowl broadcast after officials confirmed Clement's touchdown catch. "If that ball's not loose in his arms when that last foot came down, I give up."
Since making those calls, Collinsworth has had the entire offseason to watch the two plays over and over. But speaking to a small crowd of Comcast employees in Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon, he said he stands by his opinion that Clement's touchdown catch should have been overturned and ruled an incomplete pass.
"The Corey Clement play — I probably wouldn't change my opinion on it," Collinsworth said. "All season long — I did 30 games — if you bobbled the ball and stepped on the line, it was incomplete. That was incomplete."
But Collinsworth admitted he changed his mind about Ertz's fourth-quarter touchdown grab, which ended up winning the Super Bowl for the Eagles.
During the broadcast, after initially saying he wasn't going to make a guess, Collinsworth predicted Ertz's catch would be overturned because the tight end briefly lost control of the ball when he hit the ground after diving for the end zone. To both Collinsworth and play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, the play mirrored a touchdown catch by Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James that was overturned during a late-season game against the Patriots.
But in hindsight, Collinsworth, who will call the Eagles' season opener against the Atlanta Falcons on NBC next week, said he thinks officials got that catch call correct, and that Ertz legitimately scored a touchdown.
"I wish I'd never said that," Collinsworth said of predicting Ertz's touchdown would be overturned. "I wish I would've just said what was the simple truth, which was I had no idea. That was my mistake."
Many Eagles fans, convinced Collinsworth was rooting for Tom Brady and the Patriots to win, remained angry following the Super Bowl. A number were even heard chanting "Shut up Chris Collinsworth!" during a replay of the game shown on the jumbotrons along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway during the team's championship parade.
Collinsworth, who was highly complimentary of quarterback Nick Foles' performance during the Super Bowl broadcast, didn't understand why so many Eagles fans thought he was showing favoritism to the Patriots. But he said he's realized that his frustration during those two calls shaded fans' opinions.
"It was the first time during a call that I think my frustration came out. I was frustrated and strictly talking about the fact that I'll never get these rules. I saw 30 different games last year and I feel like it was called 30 different ways," Collinsworth said. "I love the Eagles."
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During the offseason, NFL teams unanimously approved a simplified catch rule that eliminated the provision surrounding slight movement of the football when it hits the receiver's hands and got rid of the going-to-the-ground requirement. The league is also returning to the old standard of overruling a catch only when the instant replay evidence is indisputable.
Collinsworth said he thinks the new rule is still too complicated, and contains enough gray area that it will remain difficult for fans and announcers to clearly know what constitutes a catch.
"The one that makes me nervous is when you have to make a football move, or there was time for you to make a football move. And I'm like, 'What's that? How much?'" Collinsworth said. "And now there can also be some movement on the football. What's that?"
Collinsworth said he was happy about one change heading into the NFL season — he'll be joined in the booth by former NFL official Terry McAulay, who announced his retirement from the league during the offseason and was promptly scooped up by NBC as a rules analyst for Sunday Night Football.