Replacement ref on Seahawks timeout: “It was my error”


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.

69 responses to “Replacement ref on Seahawks timeout: “It was my error”

  1. How refreshing.

    An official actually admits an error. To everyone. No BS, no sugar coating.

    Something that the regular refs never do.

    Maybe these guys (and gal) aren’t too bad after all.

  2. I love these replacement refs. They let the DBs play real football. I love seeing these soft WRs crying for flags off the slightest of contact.

    Way better than those old, blind refs that they replaced. Just need more time to get caught up with the speed of the game.

  3. I was at the game. After the Baldwin injury, Carroll had a conversation with one of the refs, who nodded his head at him as he was walking away.

    I think the ref told Carroll he had one timeout left, so Pete called a running play with Lynch. If Carroll doesn’t think he has a timeout, he probably has Wilson throw four passes instead of one run and three passes. Oddly, it may actually have BENEFITED the Cards by having Seattle waste a pass attempt by trying a run.

    The bottom line, though, is that it was pretty horrible….as were multiple other calls on both teams throughout the game. If the officiating in the SEA-AZ game was on display last Wednesday night, there would have been an agreement made with the “real” refs on Thursday morning.

  4. I only saw two games this weekend, but I thought the replacements did just fine.

    It’s not like the “real” refs don’t blow calls every week anyway.

  5. I know these guys still aren’t up to speed but I like the fact that this guy comes right out and admits it. In the past, if there was any kind of admittance, it would take 2-3 days and it would have came from the league office.

  6. Nope. Keep these officials. They will get it down. How else are people supposed to learn? or is it supposed to be a job owned only by who the Refs associations want to be in it? I don’t think so. I didn’t see any bigger increase in mess ups than in years past. The only reason it may “Seem” bigger is because of the media narrative you guys push and point out every single thing. In years past, if players/coaches etc pointed out ANYTHING, you would be fined by the league. Now since it appears you can say whatever you want, the Replacement Refs are simply being used as a scapegoat.

  7. These new guys are WAY too honest about their screw ups. 90% of the regular officials’ screw ups never are heard about again. These guys, however steep the learning curve, are scrutinized, disrespected and criticized continually, yet they come clean with statements like, “it was my error.”. Now THAT’S refreshing.

  8. I wonder if this unfortunate situation would have magnified if it was an error by a regular referee opposed to a replacement one. It seems like this error is gaining more attention because of the word “replacement”. It’s to easy to say that everyone makes mistakes but regardless to the fact, it looks like a shot at the NFL for not meeting an agreement with the Referee Association, not that replacement refs aren’t perfect, just like regular refs, who probably would make mistakes throughout the NFL season as well.

  9. Just more ammunition for the NFLPA to use in their complaint. Thankfully the Cardinals won the game and the ignorance of the replacement refs didnt change the outcome.

  10. Leave these refs in and do not bring the old guys back. I believe the old refs have favorites and are bias. The games went well and the media need to just shut it and watch the games.

  11. I didn’t see any of that game, but I saw 3 others yesterday. I honestly forgot they were replacements until collinsworth started whining about it.

  12. As huge as a gaffe it was by the official to give the Seahawks a 4th timeout, it didn’t affect the result of the game and in the end may have actually cost the Seahawks the game, stopping their current momentum and giving the Cards a free timeout too to recuperate and get the right personnel on the field. Just my opinion.

    Other than this egregious error I’d say the replacements did a fine job yesterday.

  13. The regular refs need to tuck their tails between their legs and accept the last league offer and get back to work…SIMPLE SOLUTION.

    If they don’t like the league offer…QUIT…and go back to doing what they were doing.

    The replacement refs will only keep getting better.

  14. These refs are waaaay better. Keep those other old, blind refs away from the game…….far away. Watching a Raider game was like watching a yellow flag throwing contest. It was hard to enjoy a game…and they get every important call wrong.

  15. These guys are doing a remarkable job given the scrutiny they are under. Plays that the announcers would normally not give a second thought now get the “did they get that right?” treatment and Mike Perriera, who is still waiting for a regular official to make a wrong call LOVES throwing these guys under the bus.

    I’d sign them all to contracts right now and tell all the regular refs to enjoy their day jobs that they apparently like better than officiating, anyway.

  16. KEEP these replacement officials. They are overly protective of the players and are ready to make these calls to prevent injuries. They are missing some calls, but then which is worse, replacement refs missing false starts (Seattle’s left tackle did that 5 to 6 straight plays and was only called once) or regular refs who play favorites and allow high profile players favorable calls or non-calls? Replacement refs know they are on a short lease and they have not had time to get comfortable and set-up a personal agenda. Regular refs, as we all know by their pattern of calls, have an agenda that has always favored certain teams such as the Steelers and ‘Aints (who both lost yesterday!). Now we have an as even playing field as possible.

  17. I for one loved the replacement refs this weekend. For the most part, they let them play football. Yeah there were issues here and there, but I will take that over the game where the DBs are afraid to breathe towards a WR in fear of a pass interference call. This was football as I remembered it, yeah the obvious stuff is called, but it was great to see them just play. Can’t wait for weekend 2.

    And lets face it, the only reason this ref manned up and admitted the mistake is because he was prodded from the NFL. Otherwise he most likely never speaks. But the fact that these refs aren’t full of themselves and trying to make sure everyone knows their name like the other refs, I love it.

  18. IMO, the refs did a C- job. There were many penalties that didn’t get called.
    Having said that, I do like the fact that they are not throwing flags around just to get face time ala Ed “look at my guns” Hocholi

  19. I was at the game – been to every Cards home game for 14 years…

    It was the worst ref’d game I’d ever seen.

    IMO teams that call a time out they don’t have should be given an ‘Unsportsman like penalty’ for 15 yards and if within the final 2 min the opposing team can choose to have a 30 sec. run off or not.

    If the refs had ignored the TO, the previous play was a run play…clock was at 30 sec when he was down…clock should have kept running…they would have gotten at least a delay of game penalty – 5 yards and the clock would have been at roughly 5 seconds.

  20. Isn’t calling a timeout with none remaining a 15-yard penalty with a 10-second run-off?

    Until a replacement calls a phantom PI in a close Super Bowl, they will remain no worse than the the regulars.

  21. The important thing is the refs did not IMPACT a single game. For the most part, if it wasn’t a storyline they wouldn’t have been mentioned any more than any other game.

    I know some in the media and some fans want to make an issue of it but so far it hasn’t been. I only hope that it continues not to be. Nobody should be eliminated from contention because of a call and hopefully it doesn’t happen. I would expect the replacements to get a little better each week as the game slows down to them.

    I hope a settlement is reached soon because of the “it only takes one” mistake possibility. That being said, I think the officials in all professional sports needed a wake-up call. In reality baseball and basketball probably need it much worse and hopefully they are taking note. At this point I hope the officiating remains a non-factor and we can move away from peripheral issues.

  22. Well huskersrock1…Ed Hochuli has admitted he botched a pretty big call in a Chargers game a few years back (where everyone in the stadium knew it.)

    Hermansen should be commended for admitting the mistake.

  23. I didn’t see that great of a difference in some ways. Cardinal fans know that with the regular refs (and now the replacements), that they have to beat the opposing team and the refs to get a win. And they did just that. Makes the win that much sweeter when you overcome bad calls to get it.

  24. Umm, the third mistake wasn’t a new mistake. It was part of the original mistake from misinterpreting the rule.

    I’d rather have all these guys than Ed “premature whistle” Hochuli

  25. The officials in this game fell for the old strategy of keep interfering with receivers the officials will eventually stop calling it.
    The tried to curtail the pass interference by the Cardinals but eventually just stopped calling it.
    Bad mistake.

  26. Get off their backs. They are doing us the fans a great service. Without them I’d be watching poker on my sports channel instead of football. What more can we ask? They are doing their best and I for one appreciate them. Go Pats

  27. The refs did a good job. I remember many stupid calls by the old refs. I like the way the new guys do not call a lot of ticky-tack penalties. They let them play. And, the real refs are whoever is on the field calling the game. Whoever is at home watching is not the real ref.

  28. um, is everyone on this thread an NFL employee. The refs were awful this weekend, just awful. Yes, the regular refs miss calls all the time, so listing the bad but excusable calls isn’t too useful, but…. they missed everything.
    In the Green Bay San Fran game, San Fran false started (clearly false started) three plays in a row, and not once did they get the call. Green Bay clearly had a clip right in front of a ref, no call, Seattle got a 4th time out, read that again, a fourth time out (b/c the guy can’t count to 3?), Cruz was pulled back a yard while trying to catch a td, etc etc. I feel bad and am pulling for these guys as much as the next guy, but please, give me the real refs back. At least then you’re not hoping for a well reffed game, you’re expecting it.

    And ps, for those saying that it’s a relief to hear them apologize for a bad call, the real refs do too. Ed Hochuli apologized after the San Diego Denver fiasco a few years back. They take as much, if not more, pride in their work than these guys. Goodell and the NFL have to get off their high horse and stop being the only league without full time refs. Whether it’s the new guys or the old ones, for the love of God please just spend a little of the billions of dollars and hire full time refs rather than using part time employees in the biggest business in entertainment.

  29. There were some botched calls to be sure, however like was said, they didn’t seem to change any of the games.

    I can’t tell you how many times, I have seen the games determined by blown calls with the “Regular” refs. I like the fact that the replacements are willing fix their errors and get the right calls.

    They will get better, I know that I have seen the improvement from the first preseason game.

    I have never been a fan of ticky tack penalties. You the funniest thing, is that if you look at the stats there were more PI calls yesterday than in week 1 last year. The difference is that the refs called PI when there was a called instead of phantom calls.

  30. I was at this game and was absolutely livid at the situation. the clock was working in AZ’z favor and they called a timeout they didn’t even have!!! It’s a good thing AZ’s defense shut it down or else this would have been a long week of officiating drama. Oh well. It made for some crazy excitement and drama.

  31. Watching several games this weekend, I only saw a couple of glaring screw ups by the replacement refs. One was the extra timeout given the seachickens, another was the obvious block in the back of two 49er players on the packer kick return for a touchdown. what made this play rather disturbing was that one official threw the flag on one of the blocks in the back and the other officials talked him out of it. I do think there is a lot more interior line holding going on than what we typically see when the “primetime officials” are doing the games.

  32. After watching the games this week, it seems to me that the league’s biggest problem with the replacement refs is not performance, it’s the whiny players (Mario Williams) using them as a scape-goat and the announcers constantly reminding us they are replacements everytime they throw a flag (Troy Aikman).

  33. I like these Ref’s, they admit their mistakes and don’t make as many as the one’s on strike. I say keep these Ref’s for the year, maybe after a few games, they’ll do better then the old ones !!

    Sounds like Micheal David Smith is shilling for the Unions ! Seriously, after last year, who really thinks that the so called pros are much better !

  34. Oh, yes, Bring back the regular officials. They will NEVER make a mistake, miss a call, give an extra down or an extra time out, or get the coin toss wrong. And, if it rains, they will walk on water. I especially like it when rainbows shoot out of their butts. /sarcasm

  35. The NFL has three choices:

    1) cave in to the union’s demands;
    2) hire the best available replacements; and
    3) cancel the games.

    I think the league has chosen wisely.

  36. One of the benefits the replacement officials have is, they are learning the rules by the book. In the Giants/Cowboys game, Cruz was called for an illegal block in the back… everyone complained, but the replay clearly showed Cruz had both hands on the opponent’s rear numbers. That’s the rule. We don’t have to accept the “regular” officials claim of “I know the rules” when they’re essentially using their own interpretations, or guessing a player’s intent.

    If week 1 was the worst these new folks will do, then I don’t think we’ll even notice them by week 6. And any member of the media who called for punishment/dismissal of Bill Leavy and his crew for the Giants/Packers playoff game can’t come out now in favor of the regular officials’ return. The NFL and these replacement officials are giving the accountability we all want and didn’t get previously.

  37. I remember several times regular officials giving extra downs, and maybe once or twice when they almost gave an extra time out but caught the error in time.

    I’ll take this new bunch over the old ones.

  38. Sounds like the officials are finally being held accountable. When they make mistakes they admit them, learn from them and move on. Why again are the old officials not working? Oh, that’s right, they didn’t like that the NFL wanted to make accountability part of the contract. All the more reason to move forward with the existing officials.

  39. MDS: your “three mistakes” analysis is bogus because you don’t seem to have grasped what the real error was: the refs did not charge Seattle for the injury timeout.

    First, the crew did not ignore the call for the fourth time out because, by their (erroneous) count, it was only the third.

    Second, what else was there to “straighten out” with the eighth official? They figured out what happened, but nothing further could be done about it.

    Third, he explained exactly what had happened without admitting it was a mistake during the game. He only admitted it later. What did you want him to do? Go into a public apology during the game? It was handled in a way that is comparable to the handling of Hochuli’s infamous game-deciding botched call against San Diego a few years ago – deal with logistics during the game and apologize later.

  40. dasmol says: Sep 10, 2012 2:10 PM

    It’s only a matter of time before a replacement crew gets a player seriously injured.
    Pretty sure the last time an official got a player seriously injured was when Jeff Triplette hit Orlando Brown in the eye with the weighted end of a penalty flag.

  41. After watching 4 pre-season games and 1 regular season games I have yet to see a call by a scab Ref that is any worse then some of the dumb *** calls I have seen throughout my time watching NFL games.

    So far I don’t see the big deal with the Scap Refs. I say give them the gig full time and lets move on.

  42. I watched 3 games Sunday.. Titans/Pats..Niners/Packers…Broncos/Steelers… I think that the officials did a great job in those 3 games, especially when you consider what they have been thrown into…kudos to them…The games flowed so much smoother without so many flags being thrown..12 hours spent watching football, andI loved every minute of it..Thank God the NFL is back !

  43. I was watching most of the games this weekend (thanks direct and Sunday ticket) with my wife and she made the point to drink every time the announcers mentioned replacement refs.. let me tell ya, ya drink quite a bit at that rate, these refs are under such scrutiny it isn’t right.. give them a chance quit bashing them and let’s move on… doing a fine job I prefer replacements over the originals any day…

  44. I though the replacement refs did a much better job than the “real refs”. They pretty much let the guys play and didn’t throw a flag for every little incidental contact like we were seeing last year. One other thing that I noticed is that these replacement refs don’t seem to have any relationship with the long time veterans and didn’t show them any favoritism like the “real refs” do. I enjoyed all the games and didn’t think the refs got in the way at all. Yeah they made that one bad call with the timeout but I give them a passing grade for week 1.

  45. If people are going to insist on referring to the replacements as scabs, then the guys they are “covering” for should be called open sores.

  46. I was at this game. The refs were AWFUL unless you were a Hawks fan. Strange that the refs gave all the calls to the Hawks in Card’s stadium. Cards still won so water under the bridge.

  47. The person I blame the most for this blown call WAS a “regular” NFL employee – the so-called “officiating supervisor” aka “8th Official”. These replacement refs are new to the NFL – the supervisor should KNOW the timeout rule inside and out! And, he had FOUR MINUTES to look up the rule if he had a brain fart (or call the NFL office at the very least).

    That all said, the officiating the 49ers-Packers game was extremely poor. It is time the NFL forks over the, to them, petty cash and get the real refs back to work. I would also like to see the NFL hire some of these replacement refs and put them through a training program. I would guess a good number of them have the chops to be NFL officials some day.

  48. Would you rather have the old refs who call every chinsy gamechanging interference penalty or these guys who let them play…..its refreshing.

    Just watch a rerun of bountygate game if you want to see how “great” the old refs were.

    I hope they keep these guys all year!

  49. No mention that this error has been made TWICE before be the REGLAR officials? It happened in 2003 Baltimore OVERTIME win against Seattle and in 2009 in a game between the Ravens and Browns. But why would you guys mention such unimportant information that doesn’t bolster your case?

  50. As a Seahawks fan I’m glad that we lost had we not it would have been terrible. Ugh as much as I would have loved to have seen russel pull it out. First start against a stingy defense away so not to bad next week we can hope to see better

  51. This is kind of funny… it wasn’t too many years ago when an official granted a 4th time out to a team. As I recall there was a bunch of confusion regarding how it ought to be handled. Some (fans, and those in the league as well) thought it should be a penalty on the team that called it, but the proper ruling is for the ref to ignore the request. I think it was Pereira that had to clarify for the masses.

    My point here being that confusion over dealing with time-outs is not new, and not specific to replacement officials.

  52. @ marcello49: Re: “Just watch a rerun of bountygate game if you want to see how “great” the old refs were.”

    There never was a “bountygate” game. There never was a Saints game identified with a substantial cart-off injury that was tied & verified to a bounty.

    For that matter in the last 2011 Saints game after the GW video the only “cart-off” was Saints Pierre Thomas who took a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit from a 49er for a game ending concussion.

    It amazes me how many people take Goodell’s word without verified proof as if he were “The Chosen One”, or “The Second Coming”.

    The man is without scruples, the man is without integrity, the man is above accountability.

  53. Like the article stated, missing a call is one thing. Not knowing a basic rule in the final moments is not acceptable. I watched the Browns-Eagles game and I could not stand how many times the refs had to huddle together to discuss why a flag was thrown. I thought they were going to bring out a conference table for them to sit around and discuss every penalty.

  54. Regardless of anyone’s individual belief, it seems pretty clear that the refs do not have the backing of the majority of the fans.

    That always is the invitation to the minority on any issue to insinuate that the majority is a) too dumb to understand, b) sheep, c) a sham based upon an influx of fake support responses from the supposed majority’s clandestine PR department.

  55. These refs arguably make some of the worst calls I’ve seen, but what I noticed with them, is that a lot of times they throw penalties flags on things that are simply not penalties. I have, on the other hand, seen them make some really good calls that I feel a lot of the real refs wouldn’t have made. My biggest pet peeve, especially with being an Eagles fan and having to watch every defender in the NFL use Mike Vick as their own personal punching bag, knowing damn well that they are likely getting away with it, are clear penalties that are not called. I know I am contradicting myself, but some of those calls made against the Eagles on Sunday were just flat out ridiculous. If you watched that game, you would likely agree. There was also one pretty obvious face mask on Vick that wasn’t called. (It was certainly questionable, but I don’t think anyone would have called it an outrageous claim.) There was also a flag thrown on Maclin because during a play, he threw his arms up in order to avoid a holding call. I watched that play over and over again, there was no hold. So in the refs eyes, because he threw his arms up, clearly he MUST be guilty, right? There other silly calls not even worth mentioning, but I feel like every time I looked up, there was a flag on the field. Pretty annoying.

    With all that being said, I think all the calls they are making, the bad calls that weren’t needed, and the actual good calls, are a result of them truly trying to do a good job. I mean, these guys are no different than rookie quarterbacks starting. They have big shoes to fill, and they have a lot of responsibility, and they are prone to make mistakes. The NFL has a different rule system, so they are likely adjusting. Give them some time, and I think they will level off…

  56. jlinatl says:

    Regardless of anyone’s individual belief, it seems pretty clear that the refs do not have the backing of the majority of the fans.

    What are you basing this off of? There’s been no fans booing the refs for the entire game or anything like that. It’s abundantly clear that the vast majority of fans don’t care who refs the games as long as they’re unbiased and reasonably competent.

    And why exactly would fans be drawn to the cause of the regular refs? Sure, Ed Hochuli has some nice arms, but it’s not like my Sunday gets measurably worse if I don’t see them.

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