The replacement referee who gave the Seahawks a fourth timeout as they attempted to drive for a winning touchdown late in their loss to the Cardinals has admitted what everyone watching the game knew: He screwed up.
“It was my error,” ref Bruce Hermansen said after the game. “We gave them the additional timeout because of the incomplete pass stopping the clock before the injury occurred. When in effect, the clock has no bearing on the play at all, whether it’s stopped or running, we should not have given them the additional timeout.”
There were actually a few issues the NFL needs to address on that Seahawks timeout. First, the Seahawks called a timeout that they didn’t have, and the officials stopped the clock. What the officials are supposed to do if a player calls a timeout he doesn’t have is just ignore him and keep the clock running. But the replacement officials working the Seahawks-Cardinals game apparently didn’t know they were supposed to ignore the timeout, and that’s a rule the NFL needs to make sure the officials know going forward.
The second mistake came when the referee went to the sideline and talked to the eighth official who’s in contact with the officiating supervisor — and still didn’t get things straightened out. The whole point of using the approach with the eighth official in contact with the supervisor is to prevent such errors from happening.
The third mistake came when Hermansen, instead of just admitting that his crew had screwed up by stopping the clock when the Seahawks called a timeout they didn’t have, compounded his mistake by turning on his microphone and falsely claiming that the Seahawks still had a timeout remaining. In Hermansen’s attempt to explain, he wrongly claimed that the Seahawks hadn’t previously been charged a timeout to tend to an injured player. They had been, and Hermansen either didn’t know the rule on injury timeouts or thought he could lie to us all about his crew’s mistake and no one would notice.
Hermansen’s error came at the very end of a close game, and the last game of Sunday afternoon — a Sunday afternoon when for the most part the replacement officials did a competent job. If a mistake like that had happened near the end of a lopsided game that took place during the early time slot, maybe not so many people would have noticed. But everyone noticed this mistake, and it was egregious.
Missed calls will happen: Whether it’s the regular officials or the replacement officials, sometimes an offensive lineman gets away with holding, or a defensive back is called for a bogus pass interference penalty, and we just have to accept the fact that nobody is perfect and the officials make mistakes. But ignorance of the rules is a serious problem. One that the NFL needs to fix, preferably by bringing back the regular officials.