Officials’ blunders prove costly in high-stakes NFL


As all NFL fans must remember, the Green Bay Packers were the only team that defeated the Seattle Seahawks at home last season.

Except the records don’t show it.

Replacement referees ruled Russell Wilson’s last-second interception a touchdown catch by Golden Tate, giving Seattle the win.

In the days of replacements, errors were expected. With veteran officials, large scale mistakes are unacceptable.

The NFL acknowledged a few big mistakes by the striped fellas that everybody likes to scream at; serious blunders that may have cost two teams their victory.

The first botched call came Sunday afternoon as the Packers squared off against the San Francisco 49ers.

After months of bitter jawing from Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews, he finally got a chance to hit 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Except that Kaepernick was going out of bounds.

Matthews was flagged for a late hit and 49ers tackle Joe Staley rushed to “lock up” Matthews, otherwise compromising Matthews’ ability to continue towards Kaepernick.

Staley was flagged for a personal foul and the two penalties offset, resulting in a repeat of third down, which became a Anquan Boldin touchdown reception.

Both penalties were dead ball fouls and the play should have counted and not been replayed, as the NFL immediately acknowledged. The 49ers would have probably kicked a field goal.

The league also acknowledged Staley should have never been flagged in the first place, and that Matthews simple flag could have easily been an ejection after a couple of right-crosses to Staley’s helmet.

Head referee Bill Leavy told the media after the game:

“… the down should have counted. The penalties were both dead ball, and they should have offset at the spot where the runner went out of bounds. And it would have been fourth down.”

NFL vice-president of officiating added:

“That’s a blown call. It’s a mistake, and we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We do a training tape every week with highlights from the previous week’s games, and that play will obviously be a part of it.”

A second huge miss-step by officials occurred during the late game of the Monday night football doubleheader when the Houston Texans were kicking a second half field goal.

San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Cam Thomas was flagged for hitting the center during the attempt, a flag that raised several eyebrows and stirred thousands of tweets.

Blandino weighed in on that call as well:

“This was not a correct call. This is not the intent of the rule as it was written. The rule is to protect the snapper on a field goal or an extra point from a direct, forcible blow to the head or neck area … It was not designed to prohibit any contact with the snapper, which is what happened on this play.”

There are going to be bad calls from time to time and often in every game. And it’s not generally a good thing to blame a loss on a bad call. But these examples very well may have influenced the outcome of the game. And that shouldn’t happen.

Officials get paid the big bucks because of the pressure of the spotlight and the importance of every call. And as we all now know, there’s a line of replacements just waiting for these guys to slip up again.

Follow @SFBay and @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and at for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.

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