Leavy went to the replay booth and determined that the call on the field stood as called. The Packers would go on to score a game tying touchdown later in the drive. This was to the dismay of many after many slow-motion, zoomed in instant replay shots were played by Fox. These replays shots, along with play-by-play commentator Joe Buck and color man Troy Aikman stating that Jennings fumbled the ball and the call should be reversed, were cited by many of those dismayed with the call. Former Vice President of officiating for the NFL and current Fox officiating analyst Mike Pereira agreed with Buck and Aikman that the call should indeed be reversed. Obviously, there was a lot of credence to those that disagreed with the call made by Bill Leavy to go along with the ruling on the field.
Replay: Jennings non-fumble; Bill Leavy remains with the call made on the field
In the video linked above from NFL.com, it contains the live shot and multiple replays of the play in question. A couple of the shots provided by the Fox Sports broadcast (the second and third replays) show Jennings' calf down on the ground, but the ball is screened by his body. There is nothing that can be determined by these replays because it is not possible to see if the ball had come loose or not prior to the calf touching the ground. The very first replay angle which shows Jennings' calf on the ground, but the ball already loose, has a problem. The problem with this shot is that when the replay starts the ball is already loose with the calf down, so it cannot be determined whether or not the ball came loose first. The final shot provided in the video, clearly shows the ball loose, however the shot is so zoomed in, you do not get a full shot of the body, including the whole calf in relation to the ground. A highlight from ESPN boxes the calf in with the ball loose, and it seems to appear that the calf had yet to contact the ground. The problem is again, that it is so zoomed in (and not to mention blocked by the ticker), that it cannot be said with certainty that the calf had yet to hit the ground. There was one replay provided neither by NFL.com or the ESPN highlight, that was shown during the game. It was a zoomed out view that appeared to show space between the calf and the ground with the ball loose, which was cited by Buck, Aikman and Pereira.
The problem for Leavy is that he is only allowed sixty seconds of viewing time for video replay during a review. Although, Leavy is permitted as much time as he needs to make a decision (such as reversal, time on the clock, ball placement, etc.), he must base it of those sixty seconds of viewing time. Leavy receives the video from the video operator, and can only use the replays that are shown in those sixty seconds before the screen goes blank. If there is an angle or shot that is not shown, even if the broadcast and JumboTron shows it, there is no way the referee (Leavy) can make his decision off that particular shot. We do not know the exact replays that were shown to Leavy. The first three replays shown (on broadcast) do create great plausibility that the ball was indeed fumbled, but those shots alone do not prove the ball was fumbled because the ball is screened in two instances and the other does not show the whole play. The fourth broadcast replay would also suggest the ball was likely fumbled, but the overly zoomed in shot does not give the referee reference to conclusively determine that the ball was fumbled.
The standard for overturning a call on a field is dictated by NFL Rule 15-9 ("Reviews by Referee"), which states that "a decision will be reversed only when the Referee has indisputable visual evidence available to him that warrants the change." Interestingly enough, the wording of the rule states that the referee must have indisputable visual evidence available, meaning that the video provided by the replay assistant and video operator must be indisputable. While it is the referee's ultimate decision to determine what is indisputable, there must be the basis and actual evidence to make such determination. Leavy cannot merely infer or assume from some replay shots that the ball was actually fumbled prior to Jennings being down. Leavy must actually possess and witness a replay that indisputably shows that Jennings indeed fumbled. If Leavy is not provided with such a replay, then he cannot overturn the call made on the field. There is nothing Leavy can do if a replay exists, but is not made available to him required by Rule 15-9.
The chance that Leavy did not have all replays made available to him is a possibility, which we cannot determine whether he did or not. It is quite understandable how Leavy made the ruling that the call on the field stood if this were the case. Had Leavy saw a zoomed out view showing both Jennings' calf in relation to the ground at the same time the loose ball was showing,with enough time to review such a replay, then the criticism of Leavy's call becomes more credible.
At the same time, the indisputable evidence standard is a loose term itself. Just like reasonable doubt or clear and convincing evidence standards for juries in a legal case, the indisputable evidence standard is not an exact science. What is considered to be indisputable can vary slightly from referee to referee. What Ed Hochuli (or Mike Pereira for that matter) believes is indisputable, may not be what Bill Leavy believes is indisputable.
While it is not unreasonable for fans, analysts and commentators to believe that there was indisputable visual evidence that the call should be overturned to a fumble (because they very well could be right), we do not know what replay shots Leavy was made available to in sixty seconds. Had Leavy seen the most believed to be glaring replay, it was quite possible that in his mind that there was doubt as to whether or not the calf was down. Enough doubt to stay with the on field call.
Had the first call on the field of a fumble been the actual ruling on the field, the call would not have been overturned to down by contact on review because there was no indisputable evidence to the contrary. What is indisputable is that the Giants outplayed the Packers and beat them with ease, rendering the call made by Leavy irrelevant in the end. While many of us would not have come to the same conclusion as Leavy, we must be rational and fair as to the circumstances Leavy made his decision upon, right or wrong.