NFC West: Bobby Skelton

Whew, simultaneous catches no sweat now

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
6:20
PM ET
With the NFL's regular officials set to return, I wanted to assure everyone that simultaneous-catch rulings will be handled in a manner agreeable to all parties.

The shoddy manner in which replacement officials handled the Seattle-Green Bay play Monday night could never happen with the professional game officials on duty.

Let history be our guide.

A 1998 ruling from a game between the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers comes to mind. Seattle's Joey Galloway and San Diego's Terrance Shaw went after a deep pass at the Chargers' 2-yard line. Officials awarded the ball to the Seahawks, who scored a touchdown two plays later, breaking open a close game.

And, as you might expect, the regular officials handled the situation with aplomb.

"Back judge Bobby Skelton tripped and rolled into the end zone," the Associated Press reported at the time, "but [he] saw the simultaneous catch prior to falling down, referee Larry Nemmers said afterward."

Even though the call went against San Diego, the Chargers appreciated the professional administration of the rules.

Consider postgame comments from June Jones, the Chargers' interim coach at the time.

"But you know, that's the way the NFL is," Jones said in the AP report. "The official who made the call was on his back in the end zone. That's all I have to say about that."

Galloway conceded that Shaw had a better grip on the ball. He was, of course, gracious afterward.

"I don't care if we stole it or they gave it to us, we won," Galloway said.

While rules governing simultaneous catches can be tricky to the uninitiated, veteran officials know all the nuances. In this case, it appears officials communicated information to players accurately and in a manner consistent with the rulebook.

"The official said when two guys get it at the same time, 'I give it to the guy who had it last,' " Chargers safety Rodney Harrison said, according to a Seattle Times report. "Terrance had it last, so I don't understand it."

Shaw skipped postgame interviews that day. He had been ejected from the game for arguing the call with umpire Jeff Rice.

Carry on.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Replay Official
2008 Games Worked
Booth- initiated Challenges
Ken Baker
16
12
Al Hynes
15
11
Bob Mantooth
15
10
Al Jury 15
8
Howard Slavin
15
6
Dick Creed
14
6
Dale Hamer
15
5
Larry Nemmers
15
4
Earnie Frantz 16
4
Lloyd McPeters
15
4
Jim Lapetina
15
3
Jim Blackwood
15
3
Bobby Skelton
15
3
Bill Spyksma 15
3
Bob McGrath
15
2
Tommy Moore
14
1
Bob Boylston
15
1
Mark Burns
1
0
TOTALS
256
86

The NFL officiating stat
s I track suggest the replay official assigned to Super Bowl XLIII was unlikely to challenge referee Terry McAulay's fumble ruling in the final seconds.

Bob McGrath initiated two challenges in the 15 games he worked during the regular season. Only two full-time replay assistants initiated fewer challenges during the regular season.

The NFL has said McAulay's ruling was correct as called. The league said Kurt Warner fumbled and the Steelers recovered. The league said Warner did not throw incomplete on the play. I do not necessarily disagree, but a review seemed appropriate under the circumstances.

As Warner said after the game:

"I was really surprised on that one because I thought definitely I was moving my arm forward to throw the ball. I thought I had almost gotten the ball off. Yeah, it does surprise you that in that type of situation, five seconds to go to decide the Super Bowl, you would think there would be a review."

This was an all-star officiating crew. McGrath worked with referee Al Riveron during the regular season, except for Week 2, when Riveron filled in for referee Mike Carey on the Titans-Bengals game. Mark Burns subbed as replay official that day.

The information in the chart is according to my records. In many cases this season, NFL stat crews mistakenly listed video observers as replay officials in the official gamebooks. The league corrected these mistakes during and after the season. My stats reflected the corrected information.

I've always found it curious that some replay officials challenged rulings far more frequently than others. Some might have been paired with referees who have made closer calls during the final two minutes of halves. But I would expect the data to even out over the course of a 256-game regular season. That has not happened.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFC WEST SCOREBOARD