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Ref threw flag in Detroit, not knowing which team was on offense

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 27: Devin Taylor #98 and Isa Abdul-Quddus #42 of the Detroit Lions celebrate a tackle for a lose while playing the San Francisco 49ers at Ford Field on December 27, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Lions win 32-17 over the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Eagles coach Doug Pederson says the officials botched the call on his team’s crucial fumble in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. But that wasn’t the only play that brought scrutiny on the officials in Detroit.

In an earlier play, the Eagles were called for an ineligible man downfield, wiping out a 27-yard pass from Carson Wentz to Jordan Matthews. But there was an odd thing about the penalty referee Pete Morelli announced: He called it on No. 98 of the Eagles, even though No. 98 of the Eagles is a defensive player, Connor Barwin, who wasn’t on the field at the time. Then, without turning on his microphone to explain why, Morelli marched the teams down the field and spotted the ball where Matthews caught it, rather than enforcing the penalty.

So what happened? Justin Rogers of the Detroit News reports that the official who threw the flag forgot which team was on offense and threw it on Lions defensive end Devin Taylor, who wears No. 98. Morelli heard his fellow official say there was an ineligible man downfield on No. 98, and called it on the offense, and it was only after a conference that the officials figured out their mistake and waved off the flag — without telling the crowd.

“Yes, the ineligible receiver that they called downfield was Devin Taylor,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said after the game. “Then he realized that he called it on Devin and said that’s why they picked the flag up.”

That’s an extremely bizarre mistake. It’s a good thing that the officials huddled up and realized their mistake, but it doesn’t speak well for them that they made the mistake in the first place — or that Morelli announced the wrong penalty and then failed to announce a correction, leaving the fans puzzled about what was going on.

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64 Responses to “Ref threw flag in Detroit, not knowing which team was on offense”
  1. mailmanmalone says: Oct 10, 2016 3:15 PM

    Bring back the replacements.

  2. lscottman3 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:18 PM

    Wait, wait, the Pete Morelli crew made a mistake?

    No WAY!

    They are the worst officiating crew in organized sports, and that includes T-Ball.

    FIRE THEM

  3. zinger92 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:18 PM

    Those refs were trash. Sproles was called for a “chop block” just before this play. It was not a chop block.

    The ball did hit Kelce when he was out of bounds as well. Guarantee we get a statement soon that the refs were wrong.

  4. tremoluxman says: Oct 10, 2016 3:18 PM

    Too busy ogling the cheerleaders.

  5. thefirstsmilergrogan says: Oct 10, 2016 3:19 PM

    this was a poorly officiated game. the p.i. calls were really inconsistent. and setting the tone for the afternoon, the first two sweep plays by the lions were uncalled offensive holding penalties.

  6. jetsclaps says: Oct 10, 2016 3:20 PM

    Sounds like a brain fart. Happens to us all, but I’m sure the comments will all rip the refs to pieces.

  7. kevpft says: Oct 10, 2016 3:22 PM

    Now it feels like we’re just splitting hairs. Humans make mistakes, and this one was found and corrected before it caused any harm. This is a good thing, not a troubling thing.

    The reason teams lose games is that they don’t play well enough. When you play poorly enough that your fate falls within the margin of error, that means you’ve failed.

  8. scorpiodsu says: Oct 10, 2016 3:24 PM

    Refs were poor this game. They’re job is hard but some calls were really bad.

  9. thegreatgabbert says: Oct 10, 2016 3:25 PM

    “Illegal receiver, number 98 of the..uh… Oakland Raiders!”.

  10. chippys lost binky says: Oct 10, 2016 3:25 PM

    “…or that Morelli announced the wrong penalty and then failed to announce a correction, leaving the fans puzzled about what was going on.”

    Meh, better that than the 10 minute ear bleeding delay Hochuli would have caused if he’d have been the one there to explain it.

  11. matt14gg says: Oct 10, 2016 3:25 PM

    Every day Jeff Triplette wakes up and thanks god that Pete Morelli is still in the league, because as long as that’s the case Triplette will only be the 2nd worst NFL official.

  12. mikeoxwells says: Oct 10, 2016 3:27 PM

    Surprised patriots fans haven’t started trolling this article as some sort of Roger Godell conspiracy to hurt the patriots in some way.

  13. struckgold49er says: Oct 10, 2016 3:29 PM

    Wow…I’ll try and one up you Michael. The Refs spent 25 minutes trying to “resolve” the touchdown/illegal touching by Amari Cooper during the Raiders Chargers game yesterday..GEEEZ. Unbelievable how awful it has become.

  14. bowenfootdoc2013 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:30 PM

    This is an example of
    only one of the reasons why the No Fun League TV ratings are down. It seems like the game has dissolved to about 60% football and 40% officials.

  15. bert1913 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:31 PM

    Happened in basketball…….

  16. teal379 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:31 PM

    The fact anyone of us fans knows the refs by name is indication that there’s a serious issue with officiating in the NFL.

  17. vikingsdefineaverage says: Oct 10, 2016 3:32 PM

    Pathetic

  18. wiitrainingcamp says: Oct 10, 2016 3:32 PM

    I would would describe the performance of that officiating crew as “buffoonish.” This was the most bizarre, but far from the only head scratching moment from the refs during that game. It was like a bad SNL skit on NFL officiating.

  19. publicenemy#1 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:35 PM

    Rigged NFL brehs! Are you surprised?

    – lions fan here

  20. mistyzhang says: Oct 10, 2016 3:35 PM

    Morelli has a propensity for picking up flags. Remember the 2014 playoff game?

  21. mjacks44 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:37 PM

    This game was one of the worst officiated games I’ve seen in a while. As an Eagles fan, i’m not claiming the refs lost the game for us, but it’s pretty hard to win when so many calls or no calls go in one teams favor.

    I haven’t seen anybody even mention the fade to DGB where his arm was completely held down and no PI call. We end up kicking a field goal instead of a TD there. The Sproles chop blow was horrendous. It was a great block by Sproles and they throw a penalty that cost us a first down and we end up punting. The botched fumble recovery. Refs miss calls but the problem is, when they effect the outcome of several possession, eventually they do have an effect on the outcome of the game.

  22. mogogo1 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:40 PM

    “Sounds like a brain fart. Happens to us all,”
    __________

    A brain fart would explain throwing the flag in the first place. But several seconds later he relayed the details of the penalty and still hadn’t figured out what he’d done wrong which is pretty remarkable given what happened on the play. If he’d mixed up offense and defense then the pass would have appeared to him to have been a long lateral resulting in a huge loss and/or a turnover. Seems like that should have clued him in that he was wrong. A run for no gain could be confusing if you’d spaced out for a moment. But a 27-yard pass play?

  23. Pointy Williams says: Oct 10, 2016 3:47 PM

    This is sooo Lions, and sooo Eagles. It’s definitely surprisingly bad, which is sooo NFL, too.

  24. mmack66 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:47 PM

    zinger92 says:
    Oct 10, 2016 3:18 PM

    The ball did hit Kelce when he was out of bounds as well. Guarantee we get a statement soon that the refs were wrong.
    ————————

    Lol. Blandino already sided with the referees.

  25. Ivan Pavlov says: Oct 10, 2016 3:48 PM

    Turn all of the players into holograms so that their exact movements can be tracked and no one gets injured. Then do away with the refs all together.

  26. codythao35 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:48 PM

    I understand mistakes happen but come on, not knowing which team on offense? Hire me home boy.

  27. mmack66 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:49 PM

    mikeoxwells says:
    Oct 10, 2016 3:27 PM

    Surprised patriots fans haven’t started trolling this article as some sort of Roger Godell conspiracy to hurt the patriots in some way.
    ————————

    They just let the Hater Trolls take care of that, as evidenced by your lame comment.

  28. sportschatterdotco says: Oct 10, 2016 3:49 PM

    mikeoxwells says:
    Oct 10, 2016 3:27 PM
    Surprised patriots fans haven’t started trolling this article as some sort of Roger Godell conspiracy to hurt the patriots in some way.
    ———

    I think he’s finally given up on that idea

  29. newmancave2016 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:49 PM

    If that was his only mistake, that would be one thing. I say this with no reservations: He’s so terrible, he should be fired immediately. The refs literally decided that game. The fix was in, or he’s incompetent.

  30. mikea311 says: Oct 10, 2016 3:52 PM

    so this isn’t one of the 14 examples how the Eagles didn’t get beat on the field by the Lions and instead lost because of bad call?

  31. whocares69 says: Oct 10, 2016 4:04 PM

    Sounds a lot like the Bengals @ Steelers game in week 2

    Blatant holding no-calls – I think I counted 12 on the Steelers O-Line – not just hands around shoulder pads literal Choke holds and talking of defenders.

    Guess which Ref crew was there?

  32. antkowiak666 says: Oct 10, 2016 4:07 PM

    The game I used to love has now become a shell of its former self and unbearable to watch.
    The NHL is now my #1 sport to watch and attend live:)

  33. jag1959 says: Oct 10, 2016 4:09 PM

    bowenfootdoc2013 says:
    Oct 10, 2016 3:30 PM
    This is an example of
    only one of the reasons why the No Fun League TV ratings are down. It seems like the game has dissolved to about 60% football and 40% officials.
    _____________

    You may have those numbers inverted

  34. teal379 says: Oct 10, 2016 4:14 PM

    Put it this way.

    1. VERY rare that anyone who watches the NFL doesn’t at the least, sorta watch another sport of some sort.
    2. Other than Tim Donaghy – can anyone name a ref or official in the NBA?
    3. How about NHL or MLB?

    Refs have become way too much of the narrative and it’s like when Tiger fired Fluff – you’re there to be seen, not really heard and never upstage the star. That’s not the case in the NFL anymore.

  35. getadealdonealready says: Oct 10, 2016 4:20 PM

    I first thought that officiating is at an all time low, but I think the world has evolved so much that the fans in the stands (jumbo video replay), fans at home multiple angles just have a better view of what happens then people on the field making judgment calls. Just seems that it wouldn’t take to much thinking to come up with a better system.

    Please change the PI calls at the very least, the same contact happens on virtually every play from scrimmage, yet the few times it’s called it has a major effect on the game.

  36. truthprofessor says: Oct 10, 2016 4:21 PM

    Announcing to the crowd that there was no penalty, because they had mistaken an offensive player for a defensive player, would have been pretty embarrassing, for sure. Thus they didn’t do it. Much like the NFL wouldn’t admit that cold weather naturally deflates footballs, even after they knew it to be true. The NFL had to punish somebody anyway, to save face.

    At least the officials, unlike the NFL, GOT IT RIGHT.

  37. philyeagles5 says: Oct 10, 2016 4:28 PM

    this game was so hard to watch. these refs suck.

  38. andyisfat says: Oct 10, 2016 4:29 PM

    Early dementia setting in.

  39. mmack66 says: Oct 10, 2016 4:31 PM

    teal379 says:
    Oct 10, 2016 4:14 PM

    Refs have become way too much of the narrative and it’s like when Tiger fired Fluff – you’re there to be seen, not really heard and never upstage the star. That’s not the case in the NFL anymore.
    —————————–

    Not sure why you would expect anything differently when you have a commissioner like Goodell and a VP of officiating like Blandino, neither of which have any practical experience whatsoever of NFL football. Couple that with the fact that the NFL owners are too miserly to hire full time referees, and this is what you get.

  40. lionfanca says: Oct 10, 2016 4:33 PM

    Don’t know if any of you pay attention to the linesman when they put their foot down away from the play and point a finger in front of their chest signifying (letting the ref know it is a first down). One play after the Eagles got the ball on the 25 yard line after a touchback on kickoff, the Eagles ran the ball for 6 yards to the 31 yard line and the official put his foot down and pointed a finger downfield in front of his chest advising the ref it was a first down.. guess he forgot where the the ball would go after a touchback.

  41. jimmyjohns01 says: Oct 10, 2016 4:34 PM

    What’s left now is to see if the NFL will fess up and admit the ref’s mistake or makeup some bogus excuse as to what happened thinking we’re all idiots.

  42. kevpft says: Oct 10, 2016 5:00 PM

    C’mon, Eagles – you gotta score more points than the other team. You know, like the division-leading Cowboys do.

  43. mmack66 says: Oct 10, 2016 5:05 PM

    getadealdonealready says:
    Oct 10, 2016 4:20 PM

    I first thought that officiating is at an all time low, but I think the world has evolved so much that the fans in the stands (jumbo video replay), fans at home multiple angles just have a better view of what happens then people on the field making judgment calls. Just seems that it wouldn’t take to much thinking to come up with a better system.
    ———————————

    I would think that keeping track of which team has the ball is Referee 101 type stuff.

  44. lawboy2000 says: Oct 10, 2016 5:09 PM

    Pete Morelli.

    Enough said.

  45. craigruby20 says: Oct 10, 2016 5:20 PM

    14-2 penalties Eagles-Lions. Missed several obvious holds on Detroit sweeps early in the game. Refs clearly had a rooting interest

  46. torchsandaardvarks says: Oct 10, 2016 5:24 PM

    They cannot be perfect. Good job refs for realizing and correcting the mistake.

  47. nothingbuttthetruth says: Oct 10, 2016 5:26 PM

    This was one of the most poorly officiated games I’ve watched in years – and I see a half dozen a week (live and on replay).

    Why is the league not producing younger, more talented officials? Players change, coaching staffs change and yet it’s the same, aging officiating crews, by and large, every season. Of all the issues the NFL needs to deal with (and there plenty) the lack of credible officiating is near or at the top.

    The league has gotten away with nickel and diming on this subject for way too long. Time to hire full-time officials, teach them, cultivate them, hone them, train them and make this issue of incompetence and questionable integrity go away.

  48. hamlet423 says: Oct 10, 2016 5:28 PM

    Players lose games and have to show up to the post-game press conference. If they seem upset they get vilified in the press. If they don’t show up they usually get a huge fine. Think Marshawn Lynch.

    Maybe the officials should show up as well? If not, then they really have to explain what is going on to the fans and the announcers. They are as much a part of the NFL entertainment experience.

    If the league would be a bit more open and transparent about officiating issues, then think it would improve the product overall

    Instead they spend far more time denying mistakes were made than trying to improve things.

    And No replay review or officials conference should take 25 minutes. They also need to put a…5 min limit on replay reviews. If it takes longer that than, then the evidence isn’t conclusive enough to overturn a ruling on the field.

    And maybe someone should keep track of the downs. I remember last year 49ers vs Cardinals…I think they thought it was 3rd down when it was 4th, Bruce Arians went nuts and the officials ignored him.

  49. LSUStrong says: Oct 10, 2016 5:30 PM

    mikeoxwells says:
    Oct 10, 2016 3:27 PM

    Surprised patriots fans haven’t started trolling this article as some sort of Roger Godell conspiracy to hurt the patriots in some way.
    ————————————-
    Not a conspiracy against the Pats, but what does it say about a League that talks about the importance of maintaining the integrity of the game yet when these calls happen (which is way too often) they are either satisfied with doing nothing or satisfied with the optics that they are doing nothing to correct it.

  50. cobrala2 says: Oct 10, 2016 5:39 PM

    We lost but teach them what a chop block is exactly.

  51. vikesfansteve says: Oct 10, 2016 6:01 PM

    Everyone who saw the 09 NFC Championship game know Morelli is dirty. One day it will come out how much it costs for a ref to throw an NFL game just like the NBA. Goodell and his minions already know and are covering it up because it will ruin the sport and gambling on it. Check Pete’s safety deposit visits in Jan 2010. The saints should have him on a stipend for life for handing them the win on a silver platter.

  52. vikesfansteve says: Oct 10, 2016 6:01 PM

    Everyone who saw the 09 NFC Championship game know Morelli is dirty. One day it will come out how much it costs for a ref to throw an NFL game just like the NBA. Goodell and his minions already know and are covering it up because it will ruin the sport and gambling on it. Check Pete’s safety deposit visits in Jan 2010. The saints should have him on a stipend for life for handing them the win on a silver platter.

  53. benfranklinshat says: Oct 10, 2016 6:18 PM

    They called a called a chop block on Darren Sproles!

  54. proudchowdahead13 says: Oct 10, 2016 6:19 PM

    Ooops, never mind!!

  55. justintuckrule says: Oct 10, 2016 6:34 PM

    They’re human. It’s cool. Just say, “we made a mistake. no penalty.”

  56. stonedwhitetrash says: Oct 10, 2016 6:42 PM

    Then the NFL wonders why it’s losing viewers.

  57. officialgame says: Oct 10, 2016 7:03 PM

    The “smart guys” made millions betting this game and the officiating was beyond bad it was fixed to shave points. All you have to do is watch it.

  58. trajan2448 says: Oct 11, 2016 2:30 AM

    Every true fan should care about the proliferation of bad calls or no calls that can decide close games unfairly and ruin the fun of competition.
    This a huge problem which directly affects the Integrity of the game d bag Goodell is always mumbling about and it remains a terrible problem. Maybe when then NFL ratings decline another 15 % they’ll try and fix it.

  59. 302EaglesFan says: Oct 11, 2016 2:57 AM

    I’m far from a conspiracy theorist, but this game sure makes you wonder. The disparity in calls, the lack of non-calls, the obvious game changing screw-ups all favoring one team. Not to take anything away from the Lions but if any of the other teams went through this on Sunday, they would be livid. These clowns absolutely changed the outcome of the game. The NFL needs to take action. Wait, their ratings are down, and a big market like Detroit winning, sure helps…

  60. leroyquimby says: Oct 11, 2016 7:52 AM

    My grandfather is 95 and saw that they made the wrong call

  61. lion4ever26 says: Oct 11, 2016 9:21 AM

    The Dallas vs Detroit playoff game a couple years ago was a fix. I believe Morelli was told to pick up a pass interference penalty that was thrown in the fourth qrt against Dallas. It was a huge call and it was a penalty. Cameras caught Jones on the phone during the play. After the call was made the camera cut away from the official and Morrelli announced that the flag was picked up. Troy Aikman was doing the game and he even thought that the call was correct and he was astounded that the call was changed without any explanation.

  62. sjoyner59 says: Oct 11, 2016 10:41 AM

    As a Eagles fan I will not blame that loss on officials but it was a very poorly called game,the chop block on Sproles was a horrible call !

  63. thisistheonlygame says: Oct 11, 2016 3:59 PM

    I often wonder if the refs are really getting worst over time; or if the unbelievable advancement in production of footballs games is the reason for the imagined drop off.

    Just saying in the 80’s we did not have 10 to 30 camera angles for every play.

    I am guessing the refs screwed up even more back then. It was just easier for them to hide/deny mistakes. Only the people on the field would really know the truth. Which I am sure is why they (coaches/players) are required to not badmouth the refs.

  64. brooks33blog says: Oct 11, 2016 5:06 PM

    You shouldn’t be surprised about this. Pete Morelli is not a microphone friendly referee, he’s very bland and isn’t good at explaining complex situations

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