Momentum in the NFL can be enjoyable for some and disastrous for others, it just depends on what side the momentum is on. During the San Francisco 49ers' game against the Seattle Seahawks, a perfect example of what happens with momentum can be seen with the Seahawks after they got a second chance on a drive.
The second chance should have never been given in the first place. Now how bad was the momentum shift at the time? Not a huge momentum change as the 49ers were still up 6-0 at that point, but the bad call led to the Seahawks' first touchdown.
As for the play in question, Nate Clements jumped a route that was run by Seahawk wide receiver Deion Branch. Under normal circumstances Clements who has great hands would have intercepted the pass and been gone for a touchdown.
That would have been huge for the 49ers as the offense was struggling especially in the red zone. Of course Branch a veteran receiver could see that happening, so instead of allowing Clements a clean catch and the possibility of scoring, Branch grabbed the right arm of Clements.
As a result of being held by Branch, Clements was unable to make the interception. At the time the Seahawks were facing a third and four as well, so even with the knockdown of the pass the 49ers were still going to get the ball back as the Seahawks would have been punting.
There was a flag on the play and what was the penalty? It wasn't a penalty on Branch for holding Clements instead it was the exact opposite Clements was called for holding Branch. One word can describe the call: ridiculous.
Of course, Clements immediately protested the call when he found out it was going against him and he tried to argue his point, but to no avail. The Fox crew showed the replay and commented on the fact that if there was a penalty on the play it should have gone to Branch, as it was stated "Clements has just as much right to the ball that Branch does."
It's rare to see a defensive player who jumps a route be called for a penalty because most of the time in that situations the defender is in front of the receiver, which is where Clements was when making the play. It would have been impossible for Clements to have held Branch because he was already in front of him.
On the second play after the penalty Matt Hasselbeck found Mike Williams for a 35-yard gain and on the next play Hasselbeck ran it in for a touchdown.
So, from the 49ers getting the ball back with the 6-0 lead it went to 7-6 Seahawks. Unfortunately for the 49ers, after the first touchdown the Seahawks scored 24 unanswered points and the 49ers lost 31-6. Yet, for the 49ers when the game came crashing down it was that penalty that shifted the entire momentum of the game from the 49ers favor to the Seahawks.
Although, the play-calling didn't help either.
What remains to be seen though, is what the NFL is going to do with the official who threw the flag. In this case this wasn't even a questionable call that maybe from a different angle there's evidence of Clements holding onto Branch.
As for the call itself it was completely bogus and the only way the NFL can fix it is by punishing the officiating crew involved with the penalty. Making up penalties that don't exist should not be tolerated by the NFL.