TAMPA, Fla. - Were the Arizona Cardinals robbed of one last shot at the end zone in Super Bowl XLIII?
They think so.
Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner - who was sacked and lost the ball at the Steelers' 44 with five seconds left - was wondering why it was so hastily determined he fumbled. He thought it was an incompletion.
Warner said his arm was coming forward when the ball was knocked out by Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
"I was really surprised on that one because I was definitely moving my arm forward to throw the ball," Warner said. "I thought I'd almost gotten the ball off, so yeah, it does surprise you that in that kind of situation - five seconds to go to decide the Super Bowl - you would think it was something they'd do. But maybe somebody saw it clearly."
According to NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira, the replay official upstairs did see the play clearly.
"We confirmed it was a fumble," said Pereira. "The replay assistant in the replay booth saw it was clearly a fumble. The ball got knocked loose and was rolling in his hand before it started forward. He has to have total control."
When the officials on the field ruled it was a fumble, the Steelers sideline surged forward, earning Pittsburgh a 15-yard personal foul penalty that moved the ball to the Pittsburgh 29.
At that point, there's often a pause and several television replays are cycled through. But the pause between plays was brief.
"I don't know what they see, and what makes them decide that but I was actually on the sidelines expecting a review," Warner said. "We all assumed it would happen."
While the confetti flew on the jubilant Steelers, Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers ran up to an official and appeared to press him for an explanation.
Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt also was irked by the seemingly random ending.
"I was hoping it would be (reviewed)," he said. "I knew it was inside two minutes and it was a booth review. Obviously I would have liked to seen it replayed because it looked to me that Kurt was throwing the ball."
The Cardinals had a difficult night with the officials. They were penalized 11 times for 106 yards. On one Steelers drive that ended with a field goal, Arizona was called for three personal fouls. The Cardinals also had to challenge two blown calls by the refs - one on a Ben Roethlisberger run that was initially ruled a touchdown, the other on an earlier incompletion that was initially ruled a fumble.
- Tom E. Curran, NBCSports.com