Major blunder by replacement officials in San Diego


In Week One, the worst call from the replacement officials happened in Buffalo, where well after a play the officiating crew decided that a punt had been touched in the end zone — even though it clearly had been downed at the four.

In Week Two (so far), the crew in San Diego has made an even bigger mistake.

On a pass to Cowboys receiver Andre Holmes, Chargers safety Eric Weddle applied an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit.  The ball bounced around and Chargers linebacker Donald Butler came up with the interception before it hit the ground.

Following yet another extended discussion after the play, the officials gave the ball to San Diego and marked off the personal foul against the Chargers for the illegal hit.  The correct move, as anyone who pays attention to NFL football knows, would have been to wipe out the interception, give the ball back to the Cowboys, and mark off the penalty against the Chargers from the previous spot.

Making this one even more glaring is the fact that the interception by Butler was subject to replay review, since it happened in the final two minutes of the half.  [UPDATE:  And all turnovers are now subject to automatic review.  Good thing I’m not a replacement official.]  Even then, no one figured out that the ball should have remained with the Cowboys before the ruling on the field was upheld.

And so the Cowboys lost what should have been a first down on the San Diego 15 with 53 seconds left in the second quarter.

Even though this game didn’t count, we’ve got a feeling that the league office will be hearing from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

59 responses to “Major blunder by replacement officials in San Diego

  1. This is so glaringly bad that it makes me think someone in the NFLRA paid these guys off to look this bad.

    How they can miss something like this is just… wow.

  2. Shall we talk about the similar sort of “blunder” by the regular refs in Denver a couple of years ago?

    No, I suppose you won’t want to talk about regular refs blunders though… they’re Unionized…

  3. And to add insult to insult, they blew the play dead even though Butler was not down after the interception.

  4. In the Bears game:

    Phantom Pass Interference call.

    Charles Tillman defended one of the Redskins WR’s. The WR ran himself out of bounds and the refs threw the flag when the WR tripped over Tillman while he was out of bounds.

  5. That is a huge gaffe. They should know that any penalty committed by the defense while causing a turnover negates that turnover and the offense keeps the ball with the penalty yards added to the spot of the foul.

    Speaking of bad officiating, the jags-saints game was basically decided by 2 phantom pass interference calls on the game winning drive by the jags. That game was riddled with penalties that should not have been called.

  6. Just wait until these games start counting. I think a good strategy for the NFLRA is to just sit back and let the replacement refs do their thing. Before long the team owners will be bailing on the NFL front office on this issue, and demanding a deal. Jerry Jones may already at that point.

  7. Well you obviously don’t pay as much attention to nfl football as you think you do because every turnover is reviewed no matter when it happens. But yes these refs are pretty bad but the regular refs make a lot of mistakes too the only difference is that they have less of a magnifying glass on every thing they do and the media and pereria are less inclined to criticize them for whatever reason

  8. Since we’re calling out all mistakes, the play was being reviewed because it was a turnover. It would have been reviewed outside of the final two minutes of the half.

  9. They’re unionized, and it doesn’t help the agenda constantly being pushed here.

    I’d hate to see the normal refs under this same microscope during preseason weeks.

  10. Don’t forget the interception by Smith in the Dolphins game that was called Pass Interference.

    What is interesting is how Goddell is advocating player safety yet he won’t do the right thing to fix this situation and is allowing inexperienced refs that ultimately will put players in harmful situations.

    The NFL is looking like hypocrites here.

  11. Still havnt seen anything the regular refs dont do frequently. Theses guys are on game 3. What’s the pros excuse? Stop feeding BS Florio. NFLRA got you on thier payroll. Man I HOPE SOOOO BAD the regular refs get this much media scrutiny. I wont hold my breath.

  12. All turnovers are reviewed this year.. not just those that occur in the last 2 minutes… I’ll excuse you for the blunder, though.

  13. Maybe Jerry will get his buddies together to stop being cheap and pay the referees.

    They’re not trying to rake the NFL over hot coals. They’re making 1/3 of a percent of the NFL’s total revenue.

    Let’s get a quality product on the field, please.

  14. I was there in person, and it was god-awful. I think I started the booing in our section, it took ridiculously long, and featured ref’s pointing both directions and congregating mid-field several times. The game is screwed if this goes on much longer.

  15. Booth officials are close with reg refs, but different union so they have to be there. They want to see the regular refs back and the worse the replacements looks , the better for the reg refs. Booth guys don’t want to help them, especially when games don’t matter.

    On the other hand , give these guys a break and give them a few games to get use to the NFL. There is a reason why these guys got picked, they are good officials but aren’t accustomed to the nfl pace and rules yet. NFL, NCAA, and highschool all have different rules and can get mixed up, especially in a stressful position , ie pentaly enforcement. And please lay off the callin of wrong numbers. If the # had t been the punt returner no one would have noticed.

  16. “Even though this game didn’t count, we’ve got a feeling that the league office will be hearing from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.”

    I’m sure Jerrah would gladly pay for his own referees each game.

  17. Earlier in the Cowboys game, there was a play where the refs called a pass interference and some other penalty. They couldn’t figure out what down it should be so they just picked up the flags and called it 4th down

  18. Did anyone see the DPI call on Terrance Newman in the Bungals v. Falcons game? They call DPI on TN and (I think it was) Julio Jones essentially grabs him and throws him to the ground and then takes off down field…bang, DPI on Newman. It was clearly OPI.

    Let me explain something to every expert out there that thinks the regular NFL referees are terrible. They are simply the best officials in any professional league. The NFL has the best athletes of any professional sport. That means they are the biggest, fastest and most skilled athletes on the planet. To be able to accurately officiate the way they do is amazing.

    The problems the average officiating critics (aka, clowns) have are:
    1. They are biased toward the team they like/follow/are rooting for/placed a bet in favor of
    2. They don’t know the rules and/or confuse the rules between HS, college and the NFL. They are vastly different at all three levels, and in high school they can be different from state to state.

    A union is absolutely necessary against an empire. If the NFL didn’t insist on yielding its NFL whipping stick against every single organization that didn’t agree with it, this lockout and the player lockout would never happen. And yes, I understand leverage as it relates to business. But I also understand the difference between leverage and being A-holes.

    Now I will give you a real life example of the caliber of replacement official (I am a lowly college D2 official and I personally know a handful of the replacements…only one of them is qualified to work D2 college football in my opinion). One of these guys worked a year or two at the D3 level. He got fired. He was then politically forced into a D2 league. He was fired mid-season last year from the D2 conference (2011 football season) when he applied a high school rule at a crucial juncture of a game. A TD had just been scored w/2 minutes to go in the game, giving the scoring team a 9 point lead. They kicked the EP to go up by 10. It was blocked, picked up by a fast DB and was being returned unabated for a 2 point TD. They would have been down by 7 points with 2 minutes to go and about to receive a kickoff. Instead, this guy blew the whistle while the DB was returning the ball, killing the play which is ok in HS but not college. That play was replayed and the kick was good. Now they are down by 10 instead of 7. They lost. THAT guy is now working as a replacement official in the NFL.

    This has gotta get fixed before the regular season.

    God Bless

  19. The CowBoy coaches are just as Clueless as the replacement Zebras. None of them put up any kind of argument after the bad call was made……..

  20. I am really starting to think that Goodell and the NFL owners have no pride when it comes to the game itself. -That is the big picture of “the game” as well as the individual games themselves. And I am surprised by this. These people seem mature and grown up in their pictures. But the facts speak for themselves. They are more interested in winning a labor fight that means nothing than in ensuring that the teams that make the plays to win their games, you know, actually wins their games. Canton should put an asterisk on this batch of owners if they are cynical enough to go through with using replacement refs in the regular season.

  21. If you think this was a bad call, you should’ve watched the Jags/NO game last night. The game was better off played without any officiating.
    Damn if week 2 of the “preseason” is any indication of what to expect during the regular season, the NFL might as well play in shells & make it a flag football oriented league. Completely R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S

  22. Look, you dummies stop this garbage about safety of the players. The only thing an official can do to affect player safety is stop a fight that erupts…every other ruling is after the fact.
    So shut it with this junk accusation. Stop swallowing all the bile you know who feeds you unthoughtful lemmings.

  23. There were two game changing PI calls on the Jags final drive. Setting them up in scoring position, PI was called on a pass that sailed about 10 ft over the wr head. Then on 4th down, setting them up on the goal line, PI was called when it was clearly a case of incidental contact.
    That cost the saints the win.

  24. I get it that a penalty should have been called, but a non-called penalty cannot be the reason for a turn-over to be reversed…..can it?

  25. Think about it … exactly how bad must the replacement refs be that most of us actually MISS the regular refs?

  26. In the immortal words of Hank Stram: ” Mr. Official, lemme ask you something, How can all Six (Seven) of you miss a play like that?”

  27. In the Bills game the Bills were the kicking team and were called for an illegal block in the back. Even though they were not the team to return the ball. Referees are ridiculous.

  28. As a football fan I obviously want the best officials for the job which are the regular NFL refs.

    However this site pushes pro union agendas regularly. While this seems like a terrible call I’d be interested if this site and every fan who’s bashing the replacement refs will look at the regulars just as hardly when they come back.

    Contrary to popular belief the regular refs mess up a ton as well. Bill Leavy gave the Steelers SB XL on a couple of horrendous calls. People complain about the replacement refs potentially blowing regular season games on bad calls but we’ve already seen a supposed top notch official blow the biggest game in the world. If you need any more proof you won’t have to look very far.

  29. am starting to think you got some kinda beef with the NFL Office.
    I wonder if you yourself felt wronged during the period when the NFL advertised with you…Maybe they twisted your arm a bit then and you felt jilted and so you keep siding with anyone who has a financial grievance with the League.
    There was a time when you were all crazy gaga for everything NFL…even reporting ad nauseaum when they launched their new site. It was almost like a commercial for the NFL’s breaking away from CBS.

    Not to far fetched. There has to be a reason for this continued bias against the NFL who has made you what you are.
    Or could you be trying hard to regain balance after most see you as selling out to NBC? So you are trying to act like you can take on the league without interference from Big Brother?

  30. It would seem the refs in San Diego might have been just a little distracted by the constant barrage of Felch-bombs being lobbed from the stands. ick

  31. ratbastardshanahandjob says: Aug 18, 2012 11:40 PM

    The CowBoy coaches are just as Clueless as the replacement Zebras. None of them put up any kind of argument after the bad call was made……..

    Oh right, because arguing with the officials gets the play reversed.

  32. mrcogburn says: Aug 18, 2012 11:53 PM

    Exsqueese me. The replay officials in the booth are not replacements, and they confirmed the call.

    They confirmed the interception, not the penalty itself, or the fact that the infraction came before the interception.

  33. I understand the regular refs make mistakes too, but the regulars are experienced professionals that know the game at the pro level. I do not want to sit through a season of watching mistakes that will affect the outcome of games by a group of individuals who are all rookies trying to learn the craft at the fans’ expense. These owners wouldn’t stand for an inferior product in their other businesses, but figure since the tv contracts are done, the season tickets are sold, why not save a few bucks because we’re suckers who will watch the games anyway. You get what you pay for. Cut rate labor will not yield a better product.

  34. You’d think with the amount of experts commenting on officiating the task of getting decent officials would be much easier… replacements or not.

  35. I was at this game and no one really knew what happened. The refs (if you can call them that) took FOREVER to announce the penalties on that play and others during this game.

    Initially, those of us in my section thought it was a pass interference penalty. Then when they announced the personal foul call (no details), everyone thought it came after the pick.

    Regardless of what happened on this play, the NFL has to get the real refs back. Once someone gets unnecessarily injured it will be too late.

  36. This has nothing to do with unions, my conservative friends.

    It’s about guys with experience sitting on the sidelines while clowns make a mockery of the game.

  37. The biggest blunder of bad calls changed the outcome of the Jacksonville – New Orleans game. One minute left in 4th Q and a phantom pass interference call for a wild uncatchable ball on 4th and 20 gave the Jags the game. Goodell is killing the integrity of the NFL, while pretending to be so noble and self righteous.

  38. For all of you cracking on Florio for the ‘every turnover is now reviewed’, reread the article. He says in parenthesis that exact thing then says……GOOD THING I AM NOT A REPLACEMENT OFFICIAL! And whether he is on the NFLRAs side or not, these guys are bad! Missed calls, wrong calls, total lack of rules knowledge for some. And we bash the regular guys too, so they don’t get a free ride.

  39. There have been some rough calls but there are bad PI calls every game of every year.

  40. I’ve been heavily critical about these refs. I’m a Bills fan, and obviously one can say I am going to be harsh after seeing the horrible calls from the Bills-Skins game. I want a deal to get done and get the usual refs back on the field. With that said, I’ll be MORE critical of the refs after a deal is made, because they’ve been very open about the flaws the replacements have done, and because they are getting a new deal. They better be prepared for a lot more hounding from fans.

  41. In the Giants vs Jags preseason game, the Giants were attempting to drive for the winning TD, when the Giants’ QB was called for throwing a pass when he was beyond the line of scrimmage. There were 2 seconds left on the game clock. That penalty should have resulted in a 10 second runoff and end of game. But after consulting for at least 5 minutes, the refs just marched off some yardage and gave the Giants another play.

    I understand refs missing judgment calls, but they have to at least know the rules.

  42. Hey cavington, maybe they were called for a block in the back, wait for it, Bc they blocked someone in the back. Offense/defense/kickin/receiving is irrelevant. There may be a time blocking in back is legal (free blocking zone, hS rule not nfl) but there are definitly times that blocking in back is illegal my friend

  43. yes, we remember some bad regular ref calls, but over the last few years I can’t remember anywhere near the number of bad calls that have been made in the last 2 games by replacements…..

    NFL: pay the guys and let’s move on….

  44. @ thevikes14:

    You, my friend, would be correct.

    Another thing most observers have not mentioned are the mechanics the replacements are using. It’s like watching a high school game…slow, fat, old officials consistently out of position to make the correct call (mostly). Proper use of officiating mechanics is what gets most NFL officials where they are. Watch the LOS officials as they look at the ground near the sideline with their OB spot. A seasoned official doesn’t do that b/c he knows (YES HE) that that spot won’t move if he looks away from it.

  45. Ummm, field judge thevikes14 is no where near correct. Thevikes14, you cannot be serious. Give the replacement refs a few games?? After all the screwups over the last two weekends, I don’t want them on the field when the outcome counts in the standings. This isn’t like bringing up Triple A umpires to MLB; these guys are not qualified. If the NFL is prepared to go into the regular season with these clowns, the PR backlash will be significant…

  46. “csilojohnson says:
    Aug 18, 2012 11:13 PM
    Still havnt seen anything the regular refs dont do frequently.”

    Oh really? Like when Tony Romo had to spot the ball HIMSELF because the refs didn’t do it? I’ve NEVER seen that before.

  47. Earlier there was an obvious pass interference on SD in the end zone on 3rd and 15 in which the ref correctly threw a flag. After a 3 min convo the Referee starts making the call’ stops in the middle of it, has another 2 min convo and picks up the flag n says 4th down lol. Both plays/calls are equally mind boggling

  48. “footballchic777 says:Aug 19, 2012 3:32 AM

    For all of you cracking on Florio for the ‘every turnover is now reviewed’, reread the article. He says in parenthesis that exact thing then says……GOOD THING I AM NOT A REPLACEMENT OFFICIAL! And whether he is on the NFLRAs side or not, these guys are bad! Missed calls, wrong calls, total lack of rules knowledge for some. And we bash the regular guys too, so they don’t get a free ride.”

    Way to get in late. It wasn’t until after we started complaining that the parenthesis with UPDATE showed up.

  49. Some of you people need to understand how IR works in football. Just because there are obvious errors on the field, more than usual considering the scabs suck; IR has certain guidelines they must operate under and have certain rules that guide them in their capacity. They cannot get involved on erroneous enforcements by guys who have no freaking clue what is going on. Most of these scabs aren’t fit to work in the local pop warner leagues.

    For those of you who say the refs should be glad to have a “part-time job” where they make six figures where some don’t make that full-time is ridiculous. Perhaps somewhere along the line 15+ years ago, you should have made the decision to take a 100 question true/false test in your local area to start out with pop warner ball. With hard work and dedication, perhaps you could’ve been lucky to move into HS ball. With more hard work and sacrifice, you might have been lucky to move into small college. With even harder work at honing this skill, you might be lucky to move to D1 and if you really get lucky beyond that, you might have a shot to crack into the NFL. Just so everyone is aware, there are 121 NFL officials, about 500 D1 officials, and several thousand in D2/3. It is a small community and only so much room at the top. Sure, regular refs are bashed during the season, but they are correct in interpretation and judment more than 96% of the time! I’ll take that anytime over this crap we are being force fed with these scabs. Most of these guys are doing it for their “15 minutes of fame” perhaps because they felt they were slighted or the victim of “politics” somewhere down the line. Well, now that these losers have their turn at bat, they see just how hard the rules and enforcements can be. At least D1 guys have a high level of experience although not comparable to the NFL, but most guys at these levels are taught, trained and supervised by current or former NFL officials (Big Ten, MAC, Big East, Big 12, Pac 12, CUSA).

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