12-yard error fuels Titans’ game-winning drive

The NFL has been lucky, so far.  No specific bad call by the replacement officials directly has resulted in a team losing a game that it should have won.

But there have been several calls that helped draw a dotted line to victory to a team that otherwise could have lost.

The most glaring mistake came on Sunday, when the replacement officials — aided by the non-replacement replay official and by a non-replacement league supervisor who is now in the booth — gave the Titans 12 extra yards on the opening drive of overtime, which resulted in the field goal that eventually won the game.

Peter King of SI.com explains what happened in Monday Morning Quarterback.  The Titans had the ball on their 44.  A pass from quarterback Jake Locker to tight end Craig Stevens resulted in a flag for unnecessary roughness on a hit from Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch.  The officials also ruled that Stevens had caught the ball for a 24-yard gain, but on replay the call was overturned.

And when it was time to sort everything out, the officials marked off the penalty against Tulloch not from the Tennessee 44 — but from the Detroit 44.

The extra 12 yards gave the Titans a first down at the Detroit 29 instead of the 41.  The Titans earned one more first down before the drive petered out, but there’s no way to know what would have happened if the Titans didn’t get the extra 12 yards.

The fact that the Lions had a chance to tie or win, which culminated in a curious decision that resulted in them doing neither, prevents the mistake from being the one that can easily be couched as a game-deciding blunder.  The bigger problem is that the mistake happened even though the replay official and league supervisor are regular employees, not replacements.

So why the screw up?  We suspect that everyone involved in game management is feeling a ton of pressure and stress, which can be the breeding ground for blunders.

Or maybe the locked-out officials are sufficiently skilled to make up for the incompetence of the replay official and/or the league supervisor.

55 responses to “12-yard error fuels Titans’ game-winning drive

  1. Seriously, what was everyone expecting from these refs? It’s not like anybody can “walk on” and do this job.

    God-ell needed to get on the stick earlier to prevent this mess.

    Until then…expect more of the same.

  2. Until you can go back in history and wipe-out the game-changing mistakes by the locked-0ut officials this is all a joke. The game is stressful, there WILL be mistakes by anyone wearing stripes regardless of their “experience”. It’s getting old.

  3. Oh jeez. This is a big one. Huge.

    I’m officially on the bandwagon. This lockout needs to end. Now.

    Goodell’s screwed up enough this year with the Saints incident and the 50,000 pages of insubstantial ‘evidence’. Give us our football back. And if you won’t, give us a new commissioner. I think you’ve had your shot, Roger, and it’s getting uglier and uglier by the week.

  4. That error was extremely noticeable when watching the game. Everyone makes mistakes though. Just look at all the confusion in this article?
    “The extra 12 yards gave the Lions a first down at the Detroit 29 instead of the 41. The Lions earned one more first down before the drive petered out, but there’s no way to know what would have happened if the Lions didn’t get the extra 12 yards.”

  5. The NFL has been lucky, so far. No specific bad call by the replacement officials directly has resulted in a team losing a game that it should have won.


    Taking away Pierre Thomas’s touchdown cost the Saints 7 points in a game that went to overtime.

    And Periera even tweeted that there was no way there was enough indisputable video evidence that the play should have been overturned.

    So that’s two games at least that the replacement refs blew this week.

  6. These replacement refs have been taking there sweet time and interrupting the flow of the game trying to get every call “right,” yet they couldn’t just look at the replay booth/check upstairs to see where to spot the ball before announcing the penalty?

    It seems like there was at least one bonehead call made by the officials in almost every game yesterday. This is starting to become ridiculous.

  7. The catch should have never been overturned anyways. This was not even the worst officiating mistake on this play! Also multiple other mistakes in multiple other games had more magnitude than this 12 yards.

  8. ireportyoudecide says:
    Sep 24, 2012 10:02 AM
    Keep in mind one of the things the league is trying to get is accountability and the ability to fire the bad refs. The union is fighting that.


    Correct. The NFLRA is holding out for ZERO accountability. They don’t even want the performance reviews after the games any more.

    Also remember that one of the NFLRA members is head of the college ref’s and is the reason why none of the DIV I and DIV II referees can work NFL games.

    Right now it’s either the new refs or no games.

  9. As a couple people mentioned, the TE made the catch, so they actually would have been at around the DET 20 if they didn’t bungle the replay. Also, how do Detroit’s coaches not see this and get the ref’s attention to fix it before they snap the ball.

  10. Schwartz didn’t catch this error? Seems like he wines about almost everything. As a head coach, id think he’d be tuned into what’s going on and tell the ref they messed it up.

  11. THIS JUST SUCKS! If the (now obvious) truly stupid people making the call on this issue think that the NFL is immune to mass fan exodus, they are as pathetically dumb as the ones in baseball, hockey and the NBA were. It should have never got to this point, fans are fed up completely, but apparently we don’t count. You might look invincible, but it can and will happen. Get the real refs back, and let’s stop villainizing the ones who are out there trying their best and remember who the total jack asses are who allowed this to happen in the first place. And Jerry Jones, please shut that awful plastic mouth of yours, please.

  12. Sometimes mistakes like these are easy to make. There have been a few like this in these 3 weeks. Guess how many the coaches/players complained about as it was happening? ZERO. The coach/QB/defensive captain should be aware and so far NONE of them have been. Why is the incompetence of the officials such a big issue and the incompetence shown by everyone else overlooked?

  13. That was a catch that never should have been overturned and the Burleson fumble that was called an incomplete pass was also a bad call against the Titans. With that said I did notice that the penalty walk off wasn’t right. How could the Lions coaching staff in the box not catch this? They probably have 5 guys charting down and distance on every play and no one caught this? Inexcusable.

  14. Michael says:Sep 24, 2012 10:03 AM

    The Detroit coaching staff should have caught this at the time.

    Cant challenge in overtime moron they did know. Apparently you dont know the rules of the game. You must be a replacement official yourself.

  15. The catch shouldn’t have been overturned. Easily the worst mistake I saw on the officials behalf and honestly, where they spotted the ball basically corrected that mistake. I’d say it evened out

  16. totallyuselessme its funny ladys like tgis trying to put tje cheating taints in everything. only thing goodell does now is laugh at the laughing stock saints. as long as they look like 100% complete losers[like they are] who cares abut the rest.

  17. Naturally, this article fails to mention that Stevens did catch the ball and the play being overturned was , by far, the biggest error of the play. Going to the ground Stevens had the ball pinned to his body and it never did touch the ground. Even if it did it was not moving and he had full control so it should have been a catch. As we all know the ball can touch the ground now, but it cannot be moving at the time. At the very minimum there was no conclusive evidence to overturn the catch, even both announcers were shocked. So the Titans got screwed out of 24 yards and Locker a 400 yard + passing day.

  18. uptocj says:
    Sep 24, 2012 10:36 AM

    Thanks! I did not understand this either. Either this story is really bad or the officials gave the ball to Detroit after a personal foul on Detroit which in either case is awful!

    I did not see any stories about SF getting to call for a challenge after being out of time-outs. Not to mention the play that they challenged Toby Gerhardt was stopped and being carried backward when the ball was stripped, clearly forward progress had been stopped and the play should have been over.

  19. Blown calls affecting games is nothing new. If avoiding those was an actual criteria for officials to keep their jobs, the locked out clowns would never come back.

  20. The Lions did not deserve to win this game. I hate that a bad call was a contributing factor but, the onus is on the Lions. They cannot continue to play with poor execution for 45 minutes and expect to escape with a win at the very end.

    Hopefully this helps to right the ship. We need Delmas back terribly.

    Go Lions.

  21. They are further away from a deal with the refs than they were at the beginning of the season. Now the old refs want to be paid for “lost time” in addition to the massive new deal they were seeking.

    Yeah, they make mistakes. But it isn’t like, you know, they can’t tell the difference between the words “heads” and “tails” in overtime on Thanksgiving.

  22. Crappy officiating, OK.
    Belacheck (sp) and Fox had misplaced anger.
    Both were losing games at the time.
    Manning was picked off 3 times, for instance
    Screw the whole NFL. All greedy scum bags, terrible owners and Goodell is a moron

  23. Ok, the Stevens catch was rightly overturned, just like the Megatron one earlier. But what about the third down catch where Stevens foot was out of bounds AND short of the sticks but they got it. AND the kickoff after the first Lions field goal that was dropped as the runner was starting to return it…it sure looked like he broke the plane and therefore should have been a safety. All in all a very exciting game. But the Fox broadcast of this game along with the officiated were horrible. Who is Dwight Bentley and is he related to the Lions CB Bill Bentley?

  24. No matter who is wearing the stripes on the field their will be mistakes, but with the REAL officials their will be less

  25. Head, I agree and yet disagree. I think it shouldn’t have been overturned because it was just too tough to tell…however, on replay it looked like the tip hit as he rolled and the ball moved up in his arm at that point. I can see how they called it as they did, but I just don’t think it was conclusive. The one they really missed it on was the Burleson fumble they called incomplete. Looked like he turned and took a step to me.

    I’ll preface this with a big yes, I’m a Lions fan. We should have won that game yesterday, not because of anything that happened in the game but because we’re the better team, end of story. Play this game 100 times, the Lions win 99 of them. I don’t mind losing because the Lions aren’t good enough to be undefeated however some games are MUST wins because you should never lose them and this was one of them.

    Very frustrating game but the Titans earned the win and the Lions earned the loss. At least it was exciting.

  26. lionswow says:
    Sep 24, 2012 10:28 AM
    Michael says:Sep 24, 2012 10:03 AM

    The Detroit coaching staff should have caught this at the time.

    Cant challenge in overtime moron they did know. Apparently you dont know the rules of the game. You must be a replacement official yourself.
    The missed spots based on judgment calls of where the runner was down can be challenged but I don’t think this is an instance where a coach’s challenge (red flag) is necessary or even allowed. It is an administrative call by the officials and the coach can simply point out the error and hope for the best. (is there a “game under protest” rule in the NFL similar to the MLB rule?) The only instance I can think of where a coach had to challenge the official’s incorrect spot was the Bills punt. That challenge was not for the admin error of a few extra yards–it was for the error of calling the punt a touchback when it wasn’t.

  27. Lats time I checked, my team gave up 21 straight points via 3 big plays. Yeah, we were stoked that the Lions miraculously got back in it, but this loss was more the result of some of the least disciplined football I’ve ever watched, than the result of bad officiating.

  28. It is long past due someone makes Goodell stand up and publicly (not through some statement) and explain himself. Explain why he feels a tiny fraction of the NFL’s profits is worth jeopardizing the integrity of the game? Why he feels the fans, the players, the coaches are not entitled to a better officiated game? Why he thinks it is good for the league for much of the monday morning quarterbacking to be centered not on the play, but on these officials? Goodell if you are going to do this, and continue to do this, you should be man enough to come forward and have to answer to what is clearly a very angry public.

  29. Should we just consider this a list season? These RRs are taking the momentum and fun away from football. How can a team run a no huddle when the refs reviewing every play and still get it wrong. Their slowing the game down and Goodell expect everybody to stay cool. I know the regular refs are asking for a lot but make something happened, meet in the middle, get them back on the field.

  30. jjrs89 says:
    Sep 24, 2012 10:29 AM
    The catch shouldn’t have been overturned. Easily the worst mistake I saw on the officials behalf and honestly, where they spotted the ball basically corrected that mistake. I’d say it evened out
    Sometimes two wrongs do make a right! Actually since the TE caught it for 24 yds, with the 12 yard screw up the Titans still got cheated by 12 yds.

  31. Both teams got screwed on this single play. Stevens DID catch the ball. I must’ve watched that replay 10 times & at no point does the ball touch the ground. That call should not have been reversed. With the penalty that would’ve put the Titans at the Det 17. Instead, they wound up at the Det 29. So really, they lost 12 yards instead of gaining 12 yards.

    With all that said, marking from the wrong 44 is an awful mistake. I was flabbergasted when they overturned the catch & I was even more confused when I saw the place the ball at the 29. But even if they had got that right, they got another first down after that & I think Bironas makes the FG anyway, despite missing 2 fairly easy ones earlier in the game.

  32. I’m a Panther fan that had no rooting interest in this game. I was flipping around and missed some of the big plays and big blunders from this game. I hope it is one of the NFL Replay games on NFL Network this week.

    I think it’s a little too dismissive to just say “we’ll never know” about the 12-yard difference. Bironas was having a terrible day, having missed 2 other field goals. Now if David Aikers was the Titans kicker, I’d easily say the 12 yards would have made no difference. But on this particular day, it may have.

    Of course, it became moot with that strange 4th down call by Schwartz. But that 12 yards may have made more of a difference than we want to believe.

  33. I’m a cowboys fan, even though I’m off topic. I have to make a comment concerning the ref throwing his hat in the end zone during the play that would’ve most likely resulted in a touchdown. Kevin olgetree slipped and fell because of that action and the ball sailed ver his head. The bad part about it was that his defender was on the ground, there would’ve been no one defending the catch. Yet this official threw his hat in the end zone for no apparent reason smh

  34. Maybe this should be the new rule….If the video replay shows “convincing” evidence for overturning the call, but it’s not “conclusive”, the refs should split the difference. In this case, the Titans get 12 yards for Stevens’ catch instead of 24…..NFL rules are ridiculous these days.

  35. I have been watching the NFL about 50 years now. I never, ever thought I would say this.

    The NFL is an absolute joke. a/k/a the Goodell legacy.

  36. Sparty you are high as an effing kite if you think the lions should have won that game. The lions haven’t beaten the titans since ’95! I was glad to see you guys finally start winning last year but maybe you should check that ego at the door til you actually do something in this league. You got worked yesterday.

  37. Maybe it’s just because teams get a different crew of officials each week….but I swear, these officials are actually getting worse with experience.

    As a Titans fan, I felt the officiating was reasonably good in the season opener.

    In week 2 (TEN @ SD) it was pretty bad…but not to the point where it had a significant effect on the game.

    But in yesterday’s game (DET @ TEN), poor officiating played a major role in the way the 4th quarter and overtime period unfolded. It definitely influenced the length of the game, and could have easily changed the outcome, as well.

    The best thing to be said for the officiating in that game was that they didn’t play favorites; it was equally bad for both teams.

  38. Stevens did not catch the ball, from the end-zone shot, you could easily see the point of the ball hit the ground causing the ball to pop up in the air.

  39. The Lions coaching staff did catch the misplaced ball according to Schwartz, but in OT there are no challenges, so what could he do? He said they were screaming at the refs, but they did nothing about it.

  40. Everyone on here complaining about replacement officials, which is the same thing everyone did regularly abou the regular officials. blah blah blah blah blah. Love that people want to blame the NFL, yet ignore the ridiculous demands of the officials. The officials are being greedy, plain and simple.

  41. Kind of unrelated, but can the Lions ditch stone hands Pettigrew already? Nobody drops more catchable balls, and how does a 6’7″ tight end get the ball ripped out of his arms by a midget cornerback?

    I will say this: Shaun Hill is a better backup than half the current starters in the NFL.

  42. This game had so many bad calls I quit watching football when it ended. How come that fumble/incomplete pass wasn’t even reviewed? It happened within the last 2 minutes, plus it was a possible turn over. That one is on the replay booth not the replacements. From what I’ve read today, I’m glad I didn’t watch the night game.

  43. So, the regular refs did the same thing to the Lions last year in the San Francisco game, spotting the Niners 5 or 6 free yards on the game winning drive.
    In a hard-fought game like that I’m tempted to say it could have made the difference, but in this one the Lions blunders were WAY more egregious and costly than the refs mistakes.

    @ Jeffchadwick: I agree. Pettigrew costs us games, Hill is a very good QB and I’m stunned he is not a starter somewhere.

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