NFL admits officials, replay assistant screwed up on 49ers fumble


During the first quarter of Sunday’s 49ers-Patriots game, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick hit Delanie Walker with a pass, and New England’s Steve Gregory hit Walker just as he grabbed the ball, knocking it loose. Aqib Talib picked the ball up, and the officials ruled it a fumble recovered by the Patriots.

One problem: Walker never had possession of the ball. Another problem: The replay assistant who is supposed to review all turnovers and tell the referee to take a closer look at the close calls never told the ref to review the play.

The officials got the play wrong on the field, but NFL director of instant replay Dean Blandino placed the blame on the replay assistant in an appearance on NFL Network.

“This actually never went to review,” Blandino said. “The replay official confirmed it upstairs without bringing the referee over. And that’s a mistake. We need to bring the referee over.”

Blandino said the replay official made the mistake of watching the replay in slow motion, which made it look like Walker had control of the ball for long enough to constitute a catch. But the replay official should have watched the replay at full speed, which would have shown that Gregory knocked the ball out of Walker’s hands just as Walker grabbed it.

“He slowed it down,” Blandino said. “If you go frame-by-frame you distort the time element and you can make it look like he has it longer than he does. We want to watch it at full speed.”

Still, Blandino said that the referee can’t take the time to review every single scoring play and turnover, and so the job needs to be the replay official’s to do.

“We have to be cognizant of the delays that replay causes in the game,” Blandino said. “We’ve given the replay official — that’s his jurisdiction. He has to make those decisions.”

Unfortunately, too often this season we’ve seen the replay official make the wrong decision.

74 responses to “NFL admits officials, replay assistant screwed up on 49ers fumble

  1. I hate these replacement refs. They are ruining the game. They are putting the safety of the players at risk, what is the NFL thinking!!! Everyone should boycott the games until the real refs come back. The superbowl will have an asterisk next to it. The games are taking to long.

    I hear the 49ers are thinking about organizing a boycott because of how bad these refs are.

  2. I took it as the NFL’s way of helping out the Pats in the game; right along with not calling a single offensive holding call all game in 65 pass attempts or allowing Brady to spike the ball and berate an official without being penalize.

  3. Clearly there have been too many problems with the retired officials in the replay booth. Why hasn’t this been fixed yet?

  4. The officials on the field are known and recognized. If one of them makes a mistake, it, and its consequences, are associated with him. The replay official, on the other hand, is relatively anonymous, and does not carry the incentive of avoiding embarrassment for doing something incompetent.

    How about naming and shaming the miscreant, instead of letting him (her?) hide behind the generic label “replay assistant.” It’s amazing how that kind of consequence focuses the attention of the official the next time.

  5. Did they also admit to:

    Wilfork’s ripping Kaep’s helmet sideways? (no call)
    Pass Interference for a 50 yard free play in the end zone on Tarell Brown when their feet got tangled (Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders AND Mike Pereirera all said it was an awful call). That gave them a free TD.
    Aldon Smith getting held on every play for about 4 consecutive 2nd half drives.
    The unsportsmanlike conduct against Dashon Goldson on Hernandez which supposedly was helmet to helmet was an OBVIOUS no helmet shot on the replay.
    Brady had two easy intentional grounding plays when he was about to get sacked. Neither was called or even discussed.
    The Delanie Walker “fumble.” He never had possession of and this was reviewed too…
    Tom Brady screaming at the refs when he didn’t get his way.
    Tom Brady screaming and spiking the ball when the refs gave us our timeout.

  6. I’m thinking the average fan can watch the replay and make a better decision than many of these clowns. In this case Harbaugh couldn’t even challenge or it would have resulted in a penalty tacked on to the bogus turnover.

    The system could work if the NFL stopped making it so difficult. The replay official reviews every play and stops play if there is anything worth another look. Once done he notifies the on-field referee of the changes (if necessary) and play resumes. It is quick and the referee is not charged with overturning his own mistake (or at least looking for an excuse not to). The key is to make sure that guy (preferably two guys in the booth) actually does his job EVERY time. Allow the coaches the opportunity to challenge any play (same 3 per game format) including turnover/scoring plays. Train the guys watching the replays and then hold them accountable for any failure to adequately review or properly stop play when necessary.

  7. And these are the “regular” refs. Just think how bad this season would have been if the replacements were still there.

  8. Just one of many bizarre officiating sequences during that game. I couldn’t believe that the call didn’t get overturned. Much easier for the NFL to admit the mistake since the team that was “harmed” by the blown call still won the game.

  9. The game was the only game om at the time (SNF); where was all the NFL official who where watching???

  10. It’s amazing how the NFL can admit fault by the officials after bad calls but yet no one is held accountable. The officials in the Seattle/GB game were replacement refs and they were replaced 4 days later for their mistake but what kind of discipline do the real refs get? One game off ?
    From the beginning to the end of the Niners game the refs appeared to be bias. From Tom Brady slamming the football because the Niners called a timeout . And what about the bad pass interference call on Tarell Brown that allowed the Patriots to get the ball at the one and eventually tie the game. This game should not have been close , Roger Goodell let’s make everyone accountable , you do with the players ……

  11. It was a bizarrely refereed game. DHNF covered most of it above. I was stunned that Brady didn’t at least get a delay of game penalty if not an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he spiked that ball after the 49er timeout (which they clearly called before the snap). The ref had a strange look on his face almost like he was afraid of Brady.

  12. The refs trying to help tom Brady and the pats? Get out of town. Brady is hit low every play and deserves a flag everytime something doesn’t go his way. The fact that the para and packers looked like crazy til the real refs came back is more telling then anything I have ever seen

  13. Niners getting used to having to play both the other team and the refs. In the last Seahawks game our wideouts wore green and blue backpacks the whole game and for the past few years the saints home refs start the away teams off with unsportsmanlike penalties just for showing up. It’s just the way it goes.

  14. Forcing the coaches to do nothing with the threat of losing any possibility at a review during TDs and turnovers is making it worse. If a coach wants to use his challenge out of fear (that is quite warrented) let him use hos challenge with a penalty of losing the challenge even if confirmed, and a 15 yard penalty if not.

  15. To me this is proof that the “Schwartz Rule” has to go (both the penalty and the negation of the review). Harbaugh absolutely should have been able to challenge this play, given that the Replay Assistant was asleep at the wheel. This call easily could have changed the game, was CLEARLY wrong, and the 49ers had no recourse. If every scoring play/turnover is automatically reviewed, then Hochuli should absolutely been under the hood.

  16. “The system could work if the NFL stopped making it so difficult. The replay official reviews every play and stops play if there is anything worth another look. Once done he notifies the on-field referee of the changes (if necessary) and play resumes. ”

    Sorry FinFan68, it’s pretty much impossible to review ‘every’ play. It already slows down the game enough when scoring and turnovers are reviewed. Also, the replay booth offical is already responsible for buzzing the on-field ref with any questionable calls (for turnovers and scoring) and there are still missed calls. How can the NFL give them MORE responsibilty by reviewing every play.

  17. Screw all you patriot haters, they were down 31-3 at one time remember. It was a great come back. The patriots don’t need special treatment by the refs. They screw up calls all the time. Patriots are bound for New Orleans!!!!!

  18. It’d be normal for the powers-that-be to say, “heck, these are just football fans who complain about anything bad that happens to their team.” So as a counter-argument to the numerous plays that have gone in the Patriots’ favor, I’m trying really hard to think of any similar play that has gone against the Patriots. But I can’t. Can someone help out?

  19. No call on Wes Welker PI – triggered Brady’s anger with the ref (subject to interpretation)
    There’s holding on EVERY play in football
    Remember when Peyton Manning berated a referee on the sideline after a no-call on Eric Decker…and no one seemed to care? (even though it was a replacement ref)
    And the pats still lost this week
    The NFL isn’t into conspiracies, we’re not talking about David Stern here

    I understand why everyone hates the Patriots but..they still lost

  20. I’ve never understood why the ref in the booth doesn’t just handle the reviews. How can it possibly be better for the guy on the field to stick his head under that silly hood and try to see the replays on that tiny screen when they could have a wall-sized screen upstairs? And then there’s the fact that part of the time they’re expecting the guy on the field to reverse his own mistake.

  21. I think the “no-review” in question was a make up for one or two plays earlier when Hightower made the RB fumble the ball long before he was down. He also recovered it but some how the refs just ignored the whole fact and placed the ball for SF on the next play.

    As for the helmet to helmet on Hernandez…he got hit right on the chin and you saw his helmet pop up. It was definitely a helmet to helmet hit.

    Overall though, it was a sloppy game by both teams and the officials. Somewhere the “replacement” refs were laughing their tails off.

  22. DHNF nailed it. There were many calls intended to keep the east coast team from getting totally blown by fifty. The no calls against the Patriots from holding to personal fouls, the refs looked the other way. Then used the flag for first downs to help the Pats, and of course the PI call and the faux fumble. Very questionable at best. Look out Seattle.

  23. This was a horribly officiated game and New England was saved by the zebras…again. Aldon Smith’s jersey was 3 sizes larger by the end of the game. I guess when you are being sacked just arm forward spike the ball into the ground and presto zingo :no sack !

  24. What happened? I thought all of these issues were now in the past, after all, they got the “best in the world back” after the first few weeks.

    Now it’s become painfully obvious to all the union-tards, that theyare no better than the guys that were there when they were gone. They make terrible calls every week, favor certain teams/players. The only thing special about them, is that they are in a union. Nothing special about their skills or abilities.

  25. I was at the game and it was hard to tell if was a fumble or not, mostly because the replay board never showed the reverse angle. Most of the fans were upset because they blew the play dead after the recovering player fell to the ground.

    To hear the fans in the stadium, the Pats were the victims of bad call after bad call. After actually watching the game, I’d say it was pretty even, if not tilted slightly in the Pats favor, especially in the second half.

  26. I wonder if that was the same crew that botched the Seattle vs GB play.. after all, it was an upstairs crew that was never locked out..

    People try to blame everything on the replacement refs that made the bad call.. but they forget that the upstairs crew messed up even more since they had a replay on their hand.. in slow motion .. frame by frame and still messed up.

  27. Give ne a break. The 49ers got plenty of breaks in that game- balls bouncing their way on fumbles, bs pass interfernce calls on Hernandez. Leave it to West coast fans to whine about how the NFL “favors the east coast” because their teams have sucked for the last 15 years.

    SF gave up a 28 point lead. 28 points. Refs don’t make that happen, teams do.

    Let me guess, if the refs give another game to Seattle on Sunday, that’s also because the NFL loves the Pats, right?

  28. For some reason (unknown to me, cos I think he’s terrible) the NFL seems to regard Hochulli as one of the best officials in the NFL. As such surely HE SHOULD have known that EVERY turnover is reviewed and gone to the booth OF HIS OWN ACCORD to check? Surely the “best” official in football should know the rules… but then again Big Ed cant get his face on TV under the hood, and we all know Ed’s more interested in getting his mug (and “guns”) on TV than reffing a football game!

  29. Kraft, Mara and Rooney run this league. The dirty pats have been getting the benefit of the doubt since the Tuck Rule and have not missed a beat since.

    Watching Brady throw a fit when the 9ers called time was the highlight- like a petulant child he screams and throws the ball down.

    The teams that these men own will ALWAYS get the call. The other 29 owners know it and most football fans do as well.


  30. That was one of the most one-sidedly officiated games I’ve ever seen; the 49ers had to beat far more than just the Patriots to come away with that win. And I don’t generally make accusations of favoritism/bias, but I have to wonder how many quarterbacks can repeatedly throw the ball 5 yards into the ground with no receivers around, while under pressure in the pocket, and not only avoid an intentional grounding flag but not even have it brought up by the guys announcing the game.

  31. dirtydrew, if your name is referring to the GREAT DREW BREES, then one must get a life going forward, lol…

  32. This game so incredibly biased officiated for the pats it was ridiculous. In the end the niners won and that’s all I care about. In fact you could argue the officials giving them all the leeway on earth is what made the game funner to watch even if it was completely home cooked

  33. The Niners fumbled 6 times, the Pats fumbled 3. But the Niners recovered 8 of the 9 fumbles, giving them a 2 to 1 turnover edge despite the fact that they fumbled twice as much.

    Yeah, keep whining about how “unfair” it is that the Niners didn’t blow out the Pats. The “best defense in the league” gave up a 28 point lead.

  34. When I saw the play live I knew it wasn’t a catch. If Walker had done that in the endzone it would not have been a TD. What confused the refs was that Walker was trying to make a move before his second foot touched.

  35. This game was sloppy all the way around. The refs did not save the Pats. You were up 31-3 and could not put the game away the defense was changed and the pressure on Brady changed this is what let them get back in. As far as the holding, it happens on every play at every level played. The Pat’s recievers were held on every replay that I watched and not one was called. All these complaints, the Niners did win right.

  36. So Pats fans, if the call was right, you’re saying the Niners didn’t have a high probability of at least a field goal from the 3yrd line? During the comeback that 50yrd pi didn’t help you just a little? How about the personal on Goldson that was called but the NFL didn’t fine him for after it was obvious it was clean? Your team could have been beaten by more than ten points if it hasn’t been for the refs!

  37. Pats fan says there’s “holding all the time.”
    Q: How can you throw 65 times against the league’s sack leader & not get a holding call? A: Never, if the refs are awake.

  38. Anyone who thinks the average fan on the street could do a better job is delusional. The replacement refs, some with many years of ref experience, were largely dimissed as terrible.

    I have ref’ed and it is hard. As a ref, you don’t care who wins, you are just trying to get your calls right. What you do get is constant whining and complaining. If you think it is so easy, just sign up and try it to enlighten yourself. Look at this particular play from the ref’s position on the field. Even on reply, it looked to me like two feet down, then in the process of turning upfield he had it knocked out. Not much time elapsed but once you make a football move, it is arguably possession.

    Everyone whines and demands perfection when most QB’s are successful with a ~60% completion rate and running backs that make 4 yards per carry.

    Refs are not perfect, quit demanding perfection and just enjoy the game. Reading these comments, it is pretty clear that no of us are perfect either.

  39. As usual the refs were horrible where both teams were concerned.

    I love how all the conspiracy theorists act like this was utterly and totally one sided. As if Wilfork wasn’t getting held all game long, sometimes by 2 of the 9ers at the same time. Kyle Love the victim of offensive holding much of the game as well.

    And that sure looked like a catch that the 9ers fumbled on. I’ve seen many similar catches given oks by the refs, and other similar ones called as fumbles. It depends on the ref crew and how much they’re letting things go in any given game.

  40. The slow motion aspect is what I was arguing about with the Suh nut kick. In slow motion, I say he is quilty. At regular speed thou, I say there was not enough time to make a decision to kick.

  41. Its ok cause we got a big break too when the refs ruled that the ball DID NOT hit Ginn’s leg on his sloppy punt return. I replayed it many times and it DID touch Ginn. Just pay attention to the rotation of the football and observe how it changes.

  42. Haha all of you 49er homers are coming out of the wood work. First, the receiver had control of the ball and was making his way to the sideline. Are the defenders suppose to let him catch it and then make a move before he is allowed it hit them? What about the backwards pass in the first qtr from kaep? It was ruled an incomplete lass, since when is that and incomplete pass and not a fumble like it should have been.

    We can all agree the refs blew this game. But to say they helped one team more than the other is bogus and all of you homers need to get your eyes checked.

  43. Stop the insanity!

    Ref’s blow calls, it is part of the game. Reply can fix some of those, but not all of them. As a Dolphins fan, I think every call goes against us. Obviously, both Pats and Niners fans felt the same way on Sunday night. This isn’t going to change anytime soon.

    What I also did see, is the Niners take it to the Patriots 3 out of 4 quarters….on their home turf. Granted, Brady woke up the offense in the 3rd quarter and that run was impressive, but it was followed by a scoring run by the Niners to finish off the Pats.

    If I was a Pats fan, I would be more concerned about that defense and their inability to stop the Niners offense. You have one of the greatest QB’s to play the position and even putting up 31 points, wasn’t enough to beat the Niners. I thought Belichik was some type of defensive genious or something. Fix the defense or the Pats are going to have to score 50 a game in the playoffs to win it all.

  44. mullman76 says: Kraft, Mara and Rooney run this league.

    No, they just know how to run a football team. They’re not arrogant, they keep their egos under control, and they allow the experts to make football decisions. In other words, they’re nothing at all like your hero, Al Davis.

  45. Nice that they toss the replay ref under the bus, where he belongs. So what are they going to do about it? This was really an inexcusable error, how many games do they suspend the ref for?

  46. I said on here before this game, that I would not even watch it, because I KNEW there would be suspicious non calls, and suspicious calls.

    Fortunately SF still won it. And this is coming from a Cards fan.

    This is why I will not watch any Patriot’s games. Although, I admit I did watch ONE of their home games earlier this year (smile).

  47. Happens week in and week out. Roger doesn’t care about getting calls right though. He’s obsessed with the phantom “bounty gate” and where he can collect fine money from every player out there on the field.

    Dear Santa. All I want for Christmas is a new commissioner for the NFL.

  48. I forget who the commentator was but didn’t someone during the game talk about how he used to call these wrong all the time until he learned not to slo-mo them?

  49. the reason we brought back the real officials and not the replacements is so they can get the calls right.

    but after watching this game, i have no doubt the refs were helping the patriots.

    final score should have been 51-24

  50. @Redandgold

    Lol 51? Please, The patriots gained much more from this game than the 49ers did. At least both teams play in bad divisions, I dont remember the last time the pats almost tied twice to the same sad team in one season.

  51. Replay official was a five time Super Bowl official.

    Tim8450, officiating is hard – but when your group sends out press releases during the lockout pointing out supposed mistakes of the replacements, the implication being that they would not commit such mistakes, you’ve kinda put yourself under the microscope once you come back to the job with a hefty raise to boot. Well, Mr. Press Release – put up or shut up.

    Inadvertant whistles nearly every weekend, clocks running during measurements, players touching the ground with a knee and an elbow that are allowed to rise and score, 10 minutes to get a spot correct out in Oakland – they’re not “putting up”.

    Meanwhile, the Collinsworths and Michaels of the world, who led the charge pointing out everything they thought was a mistake, are mute. Egregious mistakes are fine now – part of the game. Nothing to see here folks – keep moving.

  52. I was looking forward to Smith vs. Brady because I happen to think they both have the best buns in the NFL. Anyone agree? Alex had these nicely shaped gluts that jiggle when he runs. Oh, & Tommy is totally lickable! Luv to rim that boy.

  53. I just think Tom Brady’s backside is the cat’s meow. Anyone know what size jockstrap he wears? Anywho, love To watch Alex Smith leave the room as well. Wink wink

  54. computojon says:
    Dec 20, 2012 10:11 AM
    It’d be normal for the powers-that-be to say, “heck, these are just football fans who complain about anything bad that happens to their team.” So as a counter-argument to the numerous plays that have gone in the Patriots’ favor, I’m trying really hard to think of any similar play that has gone against the Patriots. But I can’t. Can someone help out?
    One reason why is probably because we confine our crying about it to our own fan boards. 🙂
    Here’s a few for you: 2009, Faulk got the first down in Indy on 4th & 2 ref who said no was not even at the proper angle to call it.2006 AFCC, face guarding called on one of the Pats CBs (Hobbs), there is no such thing, he received an apology letter. 2012, Ravens and Cards game…too much to list. 2005, bad OPI on Troy Brown in playoffs in Den. SB 42 (Mike Carey even admitted this I think) Eli should have been called down when he heaved the velcrohelmet throw. Also, there was voluminous holding.

    Now, with all that said, the Pats still lost all those games because they didn’t control what they could control: their own play.

  55. “Please, The patriots gained much more from this game than the 49ers did. At least both teams play in bad divisions, I dont remember the last time the pats almost tied twice to the same sad team in one season.”

    Bad divisions? The Seahawks are probably going to be a playoff team, the Cards are talented at every position other than QB, and the Rams are competitive.

    As for the Pats, while the division is having a down year, the Dolphins are tough, and the Jets have been to the AFC championship game twice in the last five years.

    The AFC West is by far the worst division, followed by the NFC East.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.