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Was Clemson’s winning touchdown an illegal pick play?

Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow caught the winning touchdown pass in front of Alabama’s Tony Brown on Monday night.
Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow caught the winning touchdown pass in front of Alabama’s Tony Brown on Monday night. The Associated Press

Well, that was fun.

Clemson scored the game-winning touchdown with 1 second left in Monday night’s College Football Playoff championship game in Tampa, Fla., and beat Alabama 35-31. But should the TD have counted?

Here is the play:

Was that a pick play by Clemson at the end zone? Let DeShaun Watson answer that:

Well, you’ve undoubtedly seen this kind of play before in college and NFL games (where it’s often called a rub route). Two receivers will run routes that take them into a defensive back who is covering the other receiver. You’ll see a penalty when the contact is egregious.

In this case, Clemson’s Artavis Scott ran into the Alabama defender who was covering him, and Hunter Renfrow ran a horizontal route. Alabama’s Tony Brown, who was defending Renfrow, had to run around his teammate and was too late to get to Renfrow.

But was it illegal? That’s the question. Michigan tight-ends coach Jay Harbaugh said that there was no infraction.

This should come as no surprise, but Alabama thought it was a pick:

Former Notre Dame/Oakland receiver Tim Brown tweeted that the play seemed very familiar to one that cost the Irish in a 2014 game against Florida State. That, by the way, was a penalty.

New York Giants defensive end Romeo Okwara, who played at Notre Dame, also noted something about the winning touchdown.

Ah, well. It doesn’t matter now. The game is over and Clemson has won the national championship. But you can vote in our poll and leave a comment if you please:

 

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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