Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Thursday, January 22, 2009
NFL admits blunder in NFC title game

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Officials were correct in not calling pass interference against the Cardinals on the Eagles' penultimate drive in the NFC Championship Game. They erred in ruling that the ball landed out of bounds on a Cardinals kickoff in the second quarter.

Those were the points league officiating director Mike Pereira's drove home during his weekly in-season show Wednesday night on NFL Network.

The non-call for pass interference hurt the Eagles. Cornerback Rod Hood and receiver Kevin Curtis were looking back for the ball when they appeared to become entangled. Hood fell and brought down Curtis while the ball was in the air. Pereira called the contact "incidental" because both were looking back at the ball. Tough call for the Eagles.

The other call in question was clearly made in error. Officials said Neil Rackers' short kickoff touched the Eagles' Victor Abiamiri before landing out of bounds. Replays left unresolved whether the ball touched Abiamiri on the fingers before bouncing or on whether the ball touched him on the arm after bouncing. Replays left no doubt about whether the ball landed out of bounds. It did not.

If referee Walt Anderson and crew thought the ball touched Abiamiri on the left arm after Abiamiri stepped out of bounds, they should have awarded possession to the Eagles at the 40-yard line, standard procedure for a kickoff out of bounds.

If they thought the ball touched Abiamiri only on the fingers before Abiamiri stepped out of bounds, they should have honored the Cardinals' subsequent recovery. Instead, officials gave possession to the Eagles where they thought the ball went out (at the 27).

Pereira: "He ruled it touched this player and hit out of bounds. Did it? I don't know. I don't think it did. Did it hit out of bounds? No it didn't. That is one thing clear. But here is what you have to remember. The fact that we ruled that it did [touch out of bounds] killed the play. so nothing beyond this point is reviewable. It should be Philly's ball at the 40 or Arizona's ball where they recovered. Either way, we were not right in the end result."