Saints running back Darren Sproles was awarded a touchdown on Sunday against the Bears even though he appeared to step out of bounds. Now the NFL is admitting that the play should have been reviewed, blaming the problem on a “miscommunication.”
An NFL spokesman told ESPNChicago.com that “there was a miscommunication between the replay booth — which should have called for a review — and the field” and that the score “should have been reviewed.”
It’s not clear from that explanation exactly what caused the miscommunication, but former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira offered some thoughts Tuesday on ESPN 1000 about what went wrong on the bad call.
“I sat there and looked at that like everybody else like ‘What the heck happened here?'” Pereira said. “Now you look at that and really even after the game I thought there has to be more than this, than just the replay assistant saying that he confirmed that Sproles wasn’t out of bounds. As it turns out I’m not sure if it was a technology breakdown or just a communications breakdown. . . . The referee looked at his pager and it said, ‘confirmed’ apparently instead of ‘review.’ So somewhere in this process of paging, there was a breakdown, and you’d at least like to hope that it was technology as opposed to the human element of choosing not to review that because it was not a touchdown.”
Look, everyone makes mistakes, but the bottom line is that the NFL shouldn’t have changed the replay rule unless it was absolutely certain it had a procedure in place that would prevent such miscommunications from happening. Coaches no longer have the right to challenge any scoring play because those plays are supposedly being reviewed. But this play wasn’t reviewed properly, and Bears coach Lovie Smith didn’t have the opportunity to do anything about it. This miscommunication was a major mistake.