Tough job this week for the NFL vice-president of officiating, Mike Pereira. Frequently, he will give in his weekly “Official Review” segment what we feel is the “clean-laundry” version of some of the disputable calls—sometimes under the cover of “it could go either way.” However, there was no hiding from the fact that his crews made significant administrative errors, and, in this week’s installment (video, part 1 and part 2), it is Pereira, and not the laundry, that comes clean.
The topics under discussion (not in the same order):
- We discussed earlier in the week how the crew of Jeff Triplette had a major breakdown in administering replay challenges. First, Triplette was willing to review a challenge that the Cowboys recovered a fumble, when the rulebook clearly states this is a nonreviewable play. Pereira said, “I was shocked that we started to even go toward the monitor to review it.”
- Later in the same game, the Packers attempted to call for a challenge when it had exhausted all of its challenges. Triplette should have known immediately, but (according to Pereira) it was replay assistant Bob Boyleston who informed Triplette of the discrepancy. We noted that the officials then should have penalized the Packers bench for an excess challenge. Pereira backed up our assessment by saying, “We should have thrown the flag right then for unsportsmanlike conduct. It’s a 15-yard penalty … He should have been penalized right at that point. We were wrong in not doing that.”
- In the Ravens–Browns Monday Night Football game, the Browns were granted a fourth timeout erroneously in the second half. Pereira did not hide the fact that it was a major error:
It happened because we, as a crew, failed to record on our cards the [timeout] at the 3:24 mark of the third quarter. … Everybody on the field basically forgot to record the timeout. And the scoreboard did, too. So, we didn’t have it on our cards [and] it showed on the scoreboard that we had one left. Therefore, we granted the first play after the two-minute warning a fourth timeout. All our fault.”
To sum up all of the operational errors, Periera added this:
These type of administrative things should never happen and we accept responsibility for that.
- Also under “Official Review” was the oft-talked-about 4th-and-2 play where the Patriots attempted to get the first down to run out the clock, rather than punt to the Colts (video). Because the ball was juggled (and clearly indicated by headlinesman Tom Stabile), forward progress cannot be granted until the player gets control. It was a good call by Stabile in real-time, and a tough call to make on such a pivotal play. With the benefit of replay, it would appear that the Patriots were further back even. When Kevin Faulk maintains control, he is in the air and going to the ground. Even though he has caught the ball, he has not by rule caught the ball until he plants two solid feet, or has gone completely to the ground. (For spotting purposes, forward progress would be given at the point of any body part other than a hand or foot hitting the ground, provided the receiver subsequently completes the process of a catch.) Pereira should have stopped talking at that point, because he said that if the original call was first down, and if the Colts challenged the call, that the original call would have stood. This is a wishy-washy answer, as Faulk is clearly bobbling the ball and not touching the ground until clearly behind the first-down marker.
- In the Buccaneers–Dolphins game, an incomplete pass was correctly overturned as an interception (video). OK, I know there is dispute at to whether it was correctly overturned. Much like in Week 2, an incomplete pass which is overruled as an interception gives the intercepting team the ball where it was caught, nullifying any return.
All that said, I was very distracted with Pereira’s new video control device, which seems to be a modded wireless Xbox 360 controller. Seemed to me that the rewind/slow/pause switch that Pereira had up to this point, albeit wired, simply and unobtrusely did its job. Or, perhaps Pereira was playing Madden NFL ’10: Referee Edition off camera.