SAN DIEGO -- In the Dallas Cowboys' first preseason game, a penalty was called on tackle Jermey Parnell -- and he wasn't even on the field. Then quarterback Tony Romo had to tell the officials where to move the ball after they had spotted it away from the NFL hashmarks.
These are difficult times for players and coaches with the NFL’s regular referees mired in a labor dispute. In the meantime, replacement officials are working the games and doing the best they can.
But Saturday night, the Cowboys and Chargers were left scratching their heads on a few calls.
One particular play caused serious confusion.
On a pass to Cowboys receiver Andre Holmes, Chargers safety Eric Weddle was flagged for an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit. Chargers linebacker Donald Butler came up with an interception on the play. But after an extended discussion, the officials gave the ball to San Diego and then marked off the personal foul against the Chargers for the illegal hit. But the ball should have been given to the Cowboys, with the penalty against the Chargers marked off from the previous spot.
That was the most noticeable error. But there were other smaller follies, including referee Bruce Hermansen struggling with his mic on penalties, Kevin Ogletree getting flagged for running out of bounds and Derrick Dockery getting called for holding when it was really center David Arkin.
"There's been a few (questionable calls), not like they're right or wrong," Romo said. "Explanation-wise, I guess I'm not completely clear on some of them and I think that’s part of everybody just getting reps, including referees. ... I think sometimes you have to roll with the punches and go along. Maybe it's going to be a little different."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he's not concerned about the replacement referees because the games will go on regardless.