ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio used the "Kenny Powers got his pitch back" defense in explaining what receiver Michael Crabtree was doing when he was hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for his celebration Sunday.
Crabtree had just hauled in a two-point conversion pass from Derek Carr to give the Raiders a 35-34 lead with 47 seconds to play when he flipped the ball in the air, made a gesture with his hand and in came the flag.
Many assumed Crabtree made a throat-slash movement. Del Rio, though, saw it differently. He saw Crabtree doing what the fictional Powers did in the HBO comedy series "Eastbound & Down" when the former big league pitcher hit 101 mph on the radar gun.
"I mean, I'm serious," Del Rio said. "That gesture is what he was doing."
Granted, in the show, Powers had just hit his rival in his left eye, knocking it out, with his pitch before wiping his pitching fingers under his nose, flicking them in disdain and uttering some words not fit for a family website.
"I've actually showed that clip with our guys, about getting our pitch back and having the concentration," Del Rio continued. "And that's what he was gesturing. It wasn't a throat slash. So, take a shot of that [scene], all right, and see what he did after the play and you'll see that's what he was doing.
"Now, maybe you can't do that move, either."
Del Rio laughed nervously, especially since a 15-yard penalty could have given the Saints prime field position on the ensuing kickoff and all New Orleans needed to win was a field goal. But Sebastian Janikowski launched a deep kick and the Saints were able to attempt only a 61-yarder that was wide left as time expired.
After the game, Crabtree admitted emotions were high because he came through on a fade pass in the end zone for the Raiders, after not being able to connect with Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers on three straight fades in Super Bowl XLVII.
"Last play, you know, ended bad [in the Super Bowl]," Crabtree said. "This time, the last play ended good."
And the celebration?
"Man, it was just making a play and having fun, man," he said. "Having fun out there today."
It should be noted that the successful two-point conversion happened in the northwest end zone of the Superdome. Yes, westbound and up for a team trending that way.