The NFL has acknowledged it made a mistake in not flagging the Cardinals for an illegal hit on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, from a game that included layers of both technological and human error.
According to Ed Werder of ESPN, the league has concluded that Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell should have been penalized for hitting Newton below the knees while he was in the pocket.
Newton was outraged by the non-call, which led to a lengthy (and justified) post-game diatribe about not feeling safe in the pocket. And honestly, it was a fairly obvious call, with Campbell falling right into Newton’s legs, leaving the MVP twisted awkwardly as he fell.
That was just one of the officiating mistakes during that game, which included the FOX network television feed going out at an inopportune time for the Cardinals, leaving them unable to review the sack-strip-fumble by Carson Palmer which coach Bruce Arians thought was a forward pass. The fumble was returned for a touchdown and started an avalanche of points for the Panthers.
A reasonable viewer might have agreed with Arians, had one seen the replay. But with the network feed unavailable, replay official Lou Nazzaro didn’t get a chance to see it again, and didn’t see it the way Arians did with his own two eyes. Nazarro has been with the NFL since 1999, and retired from his job as the chief of the Harrison, N.J. Fire Department in 2001.
Despite that experience, he wasn’t able to prevent what was a bit of a grease fire on a number of levels.