During the CBS halftime show, Boomer Esiason, a CBS Sports analyst, made a significant assertion regarding the San Francisco 49ers’ trick play touchdown in the first half of Super Bowl LVIII.
However, subsequent analysis suggests that Esiason’s claim was incorrect.
Esiason contended that the 21-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Juwan Jennings to Christian McCaffrey should have been invalidated due to an illegal downfield presence by 49ers center Jake Brendel. He raised this point abruptly during the halftime show, but it went unchallenged by the rest of the CBS crew.
Upon closer examination, Esiason’s assertion appears unfounded.
The play unfolded entirely behind the line of scrimmage, and NFL rules permit ineligible receivers to advance past the line of scrimmage after a pass is thrown, provided they don’t engage blockers. Analysis of the play diagram from the NFL’s Next Gen Stats indicates that Brendel (#64) remained behind the line when Jennings released the pass, and he refrained from blocking any Chiefs defenders before McCaffrey made the catch.
Furthermore, a side-angle video of the play supports this assessment, showing Brendel behind the 21-yard line at the time of the pass. Although he did cross the line while the ball was in the air, he did not come into contact with any Chiefs players until after McCaffrey secured the ball.
Esiason’s unaddressed claim was peculiar, particularly considering the gravity of its implications—since the play resulted in the only touchdown of the first half. This incident adds to Esiason’s recent string of inaccuracies in reporting, making it a challenging week for the CBS analyst.