One topic from the Super Bowl that a lot of people have not gotten over is the hold on Bruce Miller during Jacoby Jones' kickoff return. As the picture shows, two Ravens had a whole lot of Miller's jersey in hand. Whether Jones would have gotten around Miller or not is besides the point. A hold is a ten-yard penalty from the spot of the foul.
Amidst all this, there has been confusion about the rule regarding this. Mike Pereira and Peter King both indicated it was a legal play because Miller was not taken to the ground by the blockers. I scoured through the NFL Rule Book (PDF) trying to find the specific rule. It looked like it was related to Rule 12, Article 3, which states that offensive holding will not be called "if the action is part of a double-team block in close line play". The lone exception to that is when the opponent is blocked to the ground by one or both players.
That does not seem to make sense as this does not appear to be "close line play". King and Pereira did not respond to tweets, but former NFL official Jim Daopoulos addressed the topic a few days ago. While his response will not make 49ers fans happier, it does point to the rule being extended by the refs to kick returns. That would not appear to be an "official" change to the rules, but that is what we are stuck with for now as some kind of loophole.
@piesbaby1 This is a play that allows for a player to be held if by two opposing players as long as they do not take him to the ground...— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) February 8, 2013
@piesbaby1 OK, let's talk about this play and thank you for the pic of the actual hold.The rule book states that holding will not be— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) February 8, 2013
@piesbaby1 called if it is part of a double team block (in close line play). Mechanically the officiating dept. has expanded that to include— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) February 8, 2013
@piesbaby1 kick plays. Now I would like to say that this action should have been called on Sunday, but the officials are looking for the— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) February 8, 2013
@piesbaby1 defensive player to be taken to the ground and if he is not taken down they normally will not throw a flag. This action appears— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) February 8, 2013
@piesbaby1 egregious and with the effect it had on the play should have been called.I realize I have gone back and forth on this but to— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) February 8, 2013
@piesbaby1 watch this on the field in real time, as the official does, it looks like a double team without a takedown and not a foul....— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) February 8, 2013
@piesbaby1 I think as an official I would have called holding for that action on the kick-off.It was so egregious that I was somewhat..— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) February 9, 2013
@piesbaby1 surprised that no one picked it up.As I mentioned earlier, there would be many explanations why it was not called, be the NFL,— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) February 9, 2013
@piesbaby1 however, if it were called...no one would have questioned the officials decision.Kind of a roundabout answer but its holding!— Jim Daopoulos (@RefereeJimD) February 9, 2013