When looking back at the final scoring play of the game, it's easy to see something has to be done about the way a holding call in the end zone affects the overall nature of the game. Especially with less than two minutes left to play.
According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, he counted at least seven holding penalties that went uncalled:
There were at least seven holding uncalled holds on safety. But a flag wouldn't have changed anything. csnbayarea.com/blog/matt-maio…— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) February 5, 2013
Not to mention, he is also right when he says a holding call wouldn't have changed a thing. The only thing a yellow flag would have done in the end zone was reward Baltimore with the same outcome they were gunning for in the beginning, a safety.
The constant holds by the Ravens punt team allowed punter Sam Koch to burn eight seconds off the game clock. Let's do some investigative work of our own and break down the film so we can see for ourselves who the perpetrators were.
From the angle above, you can see five different 49er players are being held by seven or more members of the Ravens punt team. Maiocco wasn't kidding when he said at least seven players could have been flagged on that single play.
Baltimore knew that a holding call wouldn't hurt them in this situation and it was evident that they didn't care if they drew a flag or not. Their main goal in this situation was to waste as much time as possible while taking the safety.
The plan worked, as the eight-second runoff gave San Francisco four measly seconds to put together a comeback. They weren't given the chance to run a play, as its hope relied on Ted Ginn Jr.'s return ability.
As you know, the return failed and the Ravens went on to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. One can't fault John Harbaugh and company for exploiting the rule and using it to their advantage. Any other coach would have done the exact same thing.
However, this "loophole" or exploitation of the rule could easily get reviewed by the NFL's competition committee during the offseason:
I wouldn't surprised if competition committee considers rule to put time back on clock for holding in end zone w/ under 2 minutes remaining.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) February 5, 2013
49er fan or not, it would be wise of the league to change the rule. Putting time back on the clock under two minutes would be one suggestion that would stop teams from holding in the end zone. Another would be to enforce the penalty on the ensuing kickoff.
Which in turn would give the receiving team a shorter field to play off of, or it would even give them a better opportunity to attempt a field goal in the waning moments.
Loopholes such as these are usually closed quite quickly, so expect the rule to be changed as soon as possible if something is going to be done about it.