Replacement refs stumble through more issues in Week 3
Another week and another set of mistakes from the replacement officials.
While none of the incidents directly impacted a game’s outcome, there were again several moments that stood out, ranging from the humorous to the inexplicable.
• Hat’s off to you: We’ll start on the lighter side of this whole situation, then work our way to the more troublesome issues — you know, the ones that keep popping up and make us think, “Why don’t the officials know the rules?”
First up, a one-in-a-million moment from Dallas. As Tony Romo scrambled and tried to find a receiver downfield, Kevin Ogletree briefly broke open in the end zone and tried to cut back to where Romo could find him. Only, as he planted to break, Ogletree slipped … on an official’s hat.
Huh? The absurd moment, courtesy of SBNation:
Officials throw their hats for two reasons: 1. If there is a play that results in several penalties (think an after-the-whistle fight), they sometimes use their caps as an extra flag; and 2. When a player steps out of bounds, then comes back in — if that player wasn’t forced out and is the first to touch the ball, it’s a penalty.
However, the usual approach is to drop the hat on the sideline in the latter case (which appears to be why the hat was thrown in the first place here). Why did this replacement official opt to whip his hat several yards into the end zone? It’s a mystery that may never be solved.
• Can you repeat that?: There have been some odd moments with refs on the mic this year, from the official last Monday night calling a penalty on “93, red” to calls being made without distinguishing who committed the foul at all.
Jerry Hughes, officiating the Rams-Bears game Sunday, had a pretty harmless slip-up … but plenty of people noticed it anyway. After reviewing a potential fumble, Hughes announced his ruling and gave the ball to “St. Louie.”
Unless Hughes is starring in a revival of the old Judy Garland musical, that’s generally not how St. Louis is pronounced.
• I challenge your challenge: Two weeks ago, the Seahawks were mistakenly given an extra timeout in a close game against Arizona. Sunday, referee Ken Roan essentially allowed San Francisco to utilize a fourth timeout after Jim Harbaugh threw a challenge flag.
What is it with the NFC West?
With the Vikings ahead late in the fourth quarter, Harbaugh called his third and final timeout following a Toby Gerhart run. Roan then allowed Harbaugh not one, but two challenges, despite San Francisco not possessing the timeout necessary to call for a review.
Both plays in question came after Gerhart runs — Roan deemed the first one a fumble and then erroneously gave San Francisco a timeout back, allowing Harbaugh to pull the same trick later. The second play was not ruled a fumble.
• (Not) working overtime: We may never know exactly where the Lions’ final play wound up in an OT loss to Tennessee — Detroit fumbled a snap on 4th-and-inches from the 7, recovered close to the line of scrimmage and were somehow spotted outside the 8.
But the bigger mess in this game came earlier in OT.
On a 2nd-and-18 from his own 44, Titans QB Jake Locker fired a strike down the middle to Craig Stevens for an apparent 24-yard gain. At the end of that play, Lions LB Stephen Tulloch was flagged for a personal foul, as he hit Stevens in the helmet while he tried to make the catch. The flag appeared to be legit — as did the catch.
But after the replay booth called for a review of the catch, the ref overturned it (wrong), then announced it would be third down (wrong) and finally marked off 27 yards for the personal foul (wrong).
Had the play been called correctly, Stevens would have been given the catch at the 32 and the 15-yard penalty would have moved it to the 17. With the play being ruled incomplete, the 15-yard penalty ought to have given Tennessee a first down at the Lions’ 41. Instead, Tennessee lined up for its next play at Detroit’s 29 — a weird mix of rulings.
• Washington’s woes: The Redskins trailed by seven very late in their game against Cincinnati, but marched to the Bengals’ 19. So how did Washington end up running its final play from its own 46 — a good 35 yards back?
Well, Robert Griffin III was sacked back at the 34 and Fred Davis was then whistled for a false start, so that accounts for 20. The other 15 came courtesy of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that we later found out was attributed to Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
Some of the confusion in the matter came about because of the false start. In a normal circumstance in the final minutes, that penalty results in a 10-second runoff, which would have ended the game; however, since Griffin had spiked the ball on the prior play and the clock was already stopped, there was no runoff.
“At the end of the game there were two officials on the sideline that said the game was over,” Shanahan said, according to Grant Paulsen. “They threw the flag on us when there was half of their football team on the field. I was disappointed in that.”
Griffin’s final shot at a tying touchdown, a long Hail Mary, fell incomplete.