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Live blog: Giants at Packers

NFC Divisional Playoff

We will be live blogging the calls and rules interpretations from the Giants-Packers game.

If you have any questions or comments, use the comments section of this post, or tweet us @footballzebras.

Bill Leavy is the referee. Full crew list is at the bottom of the post.


  • R — #127 Bill Leavy (17th year, 11th as referee)
  • U — #44 Jeff Rice   (10th year)*
  • HL — #54 George Hayward (21st year)
  • LJ — #9 Mark Perlman (11th year)
  • FJ — #63 Jim Quirk (2nd year)
  • SJ — #128 Larry Rose (15th year)*
  • BJ — #93 Scott Helverson (9th year)*

*Rice is substituting from Jeff Triplette’s crew. Rose and Helverson are substituting from Scott Green’s crew. (Leavy’s side judge is a rookie, and therefore ineligible for a postseason assignment.)

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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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39 thoughts on “Live blog: Giants at Packers

  1. I don’t believe this could be called this crews best game. I know they want like the post game meeting.

  2. Bill Leavy, I believe has some more apologizing to do. His two blown calls, one on review, not overturning the call on the field of a Packer fumble even had Mike Perreira confused. And the roughing call on the Giants, imaginary head slap of Rogers could have cost the NY giants the game.

    At least he should have asked the other zebras if they saw any roughing.

    At this level these calls are inexcusable

  3. Terrible job by the refs, as they said on a post game it looked like the regs were paid by State Farm Insurance to see more of the Aaron Rodgers Commercial. There were also some late hits on Manning that were not called but Rodgers a clean hit Osi.
    Even with instant reply still missed the fumble.

  4. Clearly biased officiating crew for the Pack. Didn’t matter, Giants won, but the game should have been Giants 37, Packers 7, Officials 13.

    At least 1 blown fumble call, but more likely it was 2.
    Horrible penalty against Osi.
    Incredibly horrible spots of the football against the Giants on numerous calls, but especially on Ware’s 3rd and 2 run, which was clearly a first down, but the spot showed virtually NO GAIN.

    These officials should be barred for the rest of the playoffs. Just an embarrassing job. The fact you didn’t think this was a bias job makes your site less credible.

  5. The crew actually did very well. Yes, you heard me correctly. However, it was referee Bill Leavy who made two bad calls that sustained Packer drives.

    Keep in mind that the Packers still had to drive for the those additional points that the officials “gave” them. Good teams overcome bad/questionable/close calls just as much as they have to deal with weather conditions. It’s a part of the game.

    And no official has it “in” for any team. The risk is so great for no reward.

  6. Ben:
    You’re kidding, right? Who cares about the “crew” doing well? The referee is the key. Was this a well officiated game? Hell no. And it’s not just the fans who are dumbfounded, it’s all of the media as well. What about the horrendous spot on a Giants third down? This is the first time I’ve been to your site… and the last.

  7. TOTALLY agree with you Steve. This was one of the most obvious examples of an attempt to fix a game I’ve seen in quite some time. Reminded me of Ed Hochuli in that Pitt-SD game a few years ago. Also reminded me of the first game between GB and NY this year…

    I know alot of the pro money was on the Giants bc the line opened at 9 and closed at 7.5… I’m guessing the fix was coming out of the Vegas bookmakers. Same could be said for that Pitt-SD game. The fix in the regular season game was straight from the league….wanting to see GB stay undefeated.

    The fact the Giants won this game handily, in spite of this obvious fix, is amazing!

  8. Chris: I don’t buy into the fix angle. Just certain teams getting the benefit of bad calls. Especially at home, But it doesn’t seem to apply to the Giants as witnessed by the horrendous job the Triplett crew did in the Green Bay game in NY. And then in the Atlanta playoff game, the calls went against the Giants.
    But how can a site like this that evaluates officiating say they crew did a good job. Ben, you care to respond?

  9. Towards the end of the second quarter, the Giants were in a position to score. On third down, ey threw a pass into the endzone that was dropped. On replay it looked clear that the Packer defender hit the receivers right elbow and that caused that hand to move prior to the ball arriving. Did I not see that correctly? Looked clear to the four of us watching at home, but one of my friends maintains there was no contact.

    I don’t like either team, just looking to see if anyone here caught that play so we can settle the argument.

  10. Could anyone here tell me when/where I could find out who will be officiating the Giants-49ers playoff game on the 22nd.

    Thank you!

  11. Curt:
    I believe that was TE Jake Ballard in the middle of the end zone. There was contact, but a couple of things:
    1) It was not flagrant. I’ve seen that type of play not flagged just as often as it is; and
    2) I believe the ball may have been tipped. In which case, contact is allowed.

  12. I understand what Ben means about the officials calling a good game. Only 6 penalties in all and the game moved quickly from one play to the next without too much interference. Yes, that was clearly a fumble which calls Leavy into question coupled with the roughing call on Osi, but overall the game moved at a good pace without needless holding and PI calls to slow the whole thing down.

  13. If you are looking for a site that just bashes the officials, this is not for you. We feel that the internet has plenty of options for that type of commentary. We do call out bad calls, but it is in the context of the larger picture.

    We cover the officials as if they are an NFL team. When a team executes a good game and there are one or two plays where the quarterback makes a boneheaded decision, the coverage of the team reports that proportionally. A solid performance by the six gets overshadowed by some isolated decisions of one.

    Nobody is up in arms about the Giants maybe getting a break with no 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty. I don’t have any conclusive evidence, based upon the camera angles, but if it was a miss by the crew, it sustained the opening, momentum-setting drive.

    That doesn’t minimize Leavy’s calls and their impact on the game. I saw the fumble that wasn’t called. I saw the phantom roughing the passer. We all did. We also evaluated the 155 other plays that were part of the game and that is what Football bases its analysis on.

  14. If you’re going to support your argument with a non-call against the Giants then you need to look at some of the other calls/non-calls that went against the Giants. First, holding against Snee, giving the Giants a 1st and 20, was mild (if it was holding at all) compared to some of the blatant grabbing I saw by the Packers O line. Second, there was at least one occurrence of Eli getting slammed in the back and head well after the pass was thrown with no flag.

    12 men in the huddle? That’s feeble, Ben.

  15. Ben,

    I do understand the “big picture” (150+ plays) view, but I’m also a fan of statistics. And when you have such a distinct statistical imbalance in the bad or missed calls, which went against the Giants, a closer look (and some raised eyebrows) is certainly justified. If the Giants has lost this game, there would have been a angry mob calling for heads to roll, and there would probably have been an apology from the league. Just because the Giants won doesn’t release the the League from that apology. Despite all the talk of the blown fumble and roughing calls, I think the third down mis-spot of Ware’s run was absolutely unconscionable. I’ve replayed it several times. Just a horrible spot; one of the worst I’ve ever seen.

  16. Thanks Steve. I did not recall the ball being tipped. If that happened then yes the defender is free to hit that receiver.

    I also don’t disagree that the contact wasn’t flagrant and often wouldnt be flagged, however, if it occurred before the ball got there and it caused the receiver to involuntarily move his hand I think it should be flagged if the ref saw it. I know many calls are judgement calls, but it would greatly simplify and make the game more fair if the rules were strictly enforced and consistent for both teams in every game. At least that’s my opinion.

  17. @Curt — pass interference is called by all downfield officials when one player has leveraged an advantage against the other player. How that is interpreted by those officials leads to inconsistency from crew to crew, but is generally — generally — called the same within a game.

  18. @Bison21: You are right, there are many other plays. The holding penalty on Snee seemed to be minor; could make a case that he overpowered the defender causing him to fall. The fact that it happened near the ball carrier gave an advantage to the offense, so I can see Leavy making the call there.

    I also saw that hit on Manning that should have been called. The defender clearly took two steps before hitting Manning after he threw the ball. It is missing from our coverage, because I we were having server issues at that time, and the live blog was not updating. I was busy under the hood trying to become an impromptu web server genius.

    I was not throwing out the solitary example to create some kind of balance. When the questionable/close/bad calls are tallied, the Packers got the advantage. It’s just the way it worked out, but it was not a concerted effort by the crew to tilt the scale in the Packers favor.

  19. By the way, we will be deconstructing the whole play that was under review in its own post. Working on that as we can find the time to do so.

  20. @Ben -I agree however the first Action listed in the NFL rule is:

    (a) Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch.

    I would suggest that hitting the elbow and moving the arm and hand would restrict the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch and the defender clearly was not playing the ball. The contact may have been small but it doesn’t take much to cause someone to have their hands out of position to make he catch.

  21. I guess the point I’m making is that if the referee sees it, the call should be made according to the letter of he rule. Interpreting whether or not X contact or action made enough of a difference will often lead to the referee making the wrong decision.

  22. Ben:
    The point is this. The preponderance of bad calls went againts the Giants in this game and in the regular season game in NY. Ballard was in bounds; Jennings never had complete control through the catch.
    I don’t believe there is a conspiracy; just some lousy officiating. For you to rate the officiating in yesterday’s game as adequate is a joke. Just listen to the experts who are weighing in.
    Could you imagine if the Giants had lost? There would really be an outcry.
    How can you compare a 12 man in the huddle non-call to:
    1) A blown fumble call which was switched on the field and then upheld;
    2) A phantom roughing the passer call;
    3) A ticky-tack holding call on Snee, when Pierre-Paul seemed to be held a couple of times:
    4) Possible uncalled roughing the passer penalties on Manning;
    5) A HORRENDOUS spot on the Ware third and two run. While you’re reviewing the Jennings non-fumble, please take a look at this play too and let us know what you think of the spot.

  23. Steve, as I said above, I isolated out one play and was not looking to show balance. Clearly, the bad calls favored the Packers. We covered #1 and #2. Number 3 is more borderline than you indicate, because a defender went down right near the ball carrier’s route. That will get called. #4 should have been called, too.

    As for the spot on Ware’s 3rd and 2. He’s sitting on the turf with the ball in his right hand. Both the line judge and head linesman spotted it short immediately. It was a good call, in light of the fact the I would have given him the first down without benefit of replay.

  24. Ben: You’re right. I stand corrected on the Ware spot. Still doesn’t take away from the overall below par officiating effort. I’ll leave it to you and the NFL to rate individual officials. As a fan, we look at the overall fairness of the calls, and this game did not leave many of us walking away with a positive feeling.

  25. i was looking for answers to the disturbing calls I saw last night, after reading all of Ben’s explanations, it makes me feel disgusted to hear him trying to defend the impossible. It’s simply not possible that so many bad calls went only in Packers favor and still he thinks there is no evidence of a major plot. COMMON!!!! this is why I’ll never comeback to this site again. It’s simple disgusting to see someone ridicule himself in such a blatant way.

  26. It’s common sense that if a ref is determined to change the outcome of a game, he isn’t going to miss the majority of the 150 calls, because that will draw too much attention, HE IS SIMPLY GOING TO “MISS” THE CRUCIAL CALLS. So Ben’s explanation that there is no plot just because the other 145 calls were done by the book, it’s simply a dumb reasoning. The problem for Bill Leavey is that he started the bad calls in hope that Packers will turn around the game soon but as time went by, he had to keep calling bad calls or missing obvious penaltys to the point we and MANY OTHERS will continue having this discussion. Hopefully he has raised so much fire, that more and more eyes will be on him, when he starts doing it again on another crucial game, CAUSE HE WILL, many others outraged football fans will raise their voices against this blatant cheating.

  27. Ben, shut down this ridiculous site. Leavy kept two Packer drives alive and ended two Giants drives unjustifiably in Lambeau field with Rodgers quarterbacking. A good team does not overcome the corruption which the entire nation, except for you, witnessed. It took Eli Manning a very hot defense and a very good Giants coaching staff to overcome.

  28. That frame above was after Ware was driven back. I’ve replayed it many times in slow motion and forward progress had the ball over the line before Ware “sat on the turf”. It was a terrible spot.
    I’ll agree, with a few exceptions, the crew in *general* did an ok job. But Bill Leavy proved to the world he has no business being on the field. And your pointing out the possible non-call with 12 Giants in the huddle just points out another blown call by Leavy and crew. Can’t he or they count to 12?

  29. The still taken above was before Ware lunged forward, not afterward. To put it another way, Ware had not yet crossed the yellow line at the point of that image.

    We are unsure of the 12 men in the huddle penalty, because we don’t know if a substitute entered the field outside of the huddle or if the Giants even huddled at all. Those situations are not penalized. We will never know unless another camera angle comes forth to show us what happened while the network had us focused elsewhere.

  30. Not the way I remember it, but I didn’t save the game so can’t check it again. I’ll watch the replay of the game tonight on NFL Replay and if you’re right I’ll come back and say so.
    As for the 12 men in the huddle issue, you missed my point. *Our* view may have been focused elsewhere, but not the zebras, (or shouldn’t have been). *IF* the Giants got away with one, who’s fault would that be, Ben?

  31. You answered your own question there. The officiating department has access to more video than we are, and they will know with absolute certainty one way or the other. (The league has one camera called “all 22,” which has all 22 players on the field in frame to check things such as this.)

  32. Great, glad to hear it. That means they’ll be able to see the illegal hits on Manning that weren’t called either. What isn’t clear however, is what the league does about it when they see missed or incorrect penalties. I understand that all officiating crews are examined and graded after the games, but that’s all I know. Perhaps you could elaborate further?

  33. The average accuracy of the officials is between 98% and 99% every year, according to the league. During the regular season, your on-field accuracy is one of the factors to get a playoff spot, which was the case with Mr. Leavy.

    Officials do get fired for poor accuracy marks — accuracy marks that you and I would struggle to achieve. One game, however, does not end a career. Scott Green held his flag on a botched field goal in a Giants-49ers playoff game in 2003. Terry McAulay incorrectly called pass interference on a desperation pass in a 1999 game in New England. Both were very pivotal calls in determining the result, and in both cases word got out that their boss thought they made a bad call.

    Later in their careers, Green and McAulay were promoted to head referees and both have been the crew chief at the Super Bowl.

    As for the evaluation process during the regular season, we have a post up on that from 2009.

  34. Ben, just answer me this, Why are you so obsessed with justifying ref Leavy? Do you really believe someone can go from 99% accuracy during regular season earning a spot on the playoffs to missing by mere coincidence half of the big calls, and all of your “misses” were coincidently in favor of the same team, the one that needed the “break”, are you that naive?

  35. Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d have to struggle to achieve a 50-60% accuracy rate. This isn’t the first big game Leavy has blown calls on either…he admitted botching Superbowl XL.
    If you can botch the Superbowl and not get fired, what the heck does it take?

  36. Just to follow up on the Ware spot, that entire drive was mysteriously missing from the reshowing on NFL Replay so I wasn’t able to review it again. Giants recover the fumble after Osi swats the ball loose from Rodgers with 10:28 on the clock, 3rd period. Next play shown is 1st and 10, Green Bay ball with the clock at 8:48. I can only imagine why they didn’t want us to see it again….

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