Most of you know that I am by no means a Mike Vrabel apologist. Heck, I changed my Twitter name to #FireMikeVrabel (follow me here), but he absolutely made the right call not challenging the spot on the Ryan Tannehill sneak yesterday. Now, whether or not he made the right call to go for it there instead of punting is a conversation we can have at some point, but that is not what this post is about.
Here is the play in question (thanks to Mike for the GIF):
There is obviously a lot going on here. Is there any chance that Tannehill lost yards here? Absolutely not, but there is a difference between what we can deduce by watching and what we can conclusively prove. In order for the spot to be moved here there has to be conclusive evidence that it should be changed because he was ruled short on the field.
There is no conclusive evidence to overturn the spot here because you cannot see the ball after the initial surge from Tannehill. You might think he got there with the initial surge, but again, you cannot conclusively prove that because of the camera angle. It would have been really nice to have the camera on the other side of the field here because you probably would have been able to see the ball.
The other thing at play here is that the timeout that Vrabel would have risked, and ultimately lost on a challenge, could have been really huge. It didn’t turn out that way, but with this being short you are giving the ball to Philip Rivers at the 49 yard line with 2:35 left and just needing a field goal to tie the game. A challenge here would have been throwing away the timeout.
Again, I get the logic here that says Tannehill gained the inch or two that he needed to get the first down, but there is no shot they would have moved the spot forward enough to give him the first down here based on the camera angles we have. Vrabel made the right call.