Refs, 49ers appeared to whiff on DeVonta Smith's pivotal reception in NFC title game

By , Audacy Sports

The Eagles' opening-drive touchdown in the NFL title game was set up by a crucial fourth-down conversion on a long completion from quarterback Jalen Hurts to wide receiver DeVonta Smith.

But the momentous play seemingly shouldn't have been.

Podcast Episode
Locked On NFL – Daily Podcast On The National Football League
Frank Reich Over Steve Wilks Right Call by Panthers? | Jeff Saturday | Conference Championship Picks
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

While Smith initially appeared to make an incredible one-handed snag at the 49ers' 6-yard line, replays showed that he was unable to maintain control of the ball as he came down hard on the turf.

Meanwhile, the Eagles hurried back to the line -- at Smith's haste -- and quickly snapped the ball for their next play, denying the 49ers and head coach Kyle Shanahan the opportunity to get a good look at a replay for a challenge.

After an incomplete pass on the subsequent first down, the Eagles punched it in on a Miles Sanders six-yard scamper.

Then, on the 49ers' ensuing drive, the Eagles notched a takeaway after the Eagles challenged a Brock Purdy fumble that was initially ruled an incomplete pass.

Replay factored into the game heavily in the early going. On the 49ers' second possession, backup quarterback Josh Johnson very nearly had the ball ripped away by Eagles edge rusher Haason Reddick during a sack, but the Eagles lost a challenge. Later in the quarter, an Eagles punt appeared to strike a camera wire, resulting in the ball falling shorter than it should have, but the officials announced that the play could not be reviewed.

On social media, some football fans and journalists called out the missed call on Smith's catch, while others were critical of the 49ers' decision not to challenge.

LISTEN on the Audacy App
Sign Up and Follow Audacy Sports
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today