New rule would address issue from NFC title game

March, 24, 2009
3/24/09
5:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Officiating director Mike Pereira singled out several plays involving NFC West teams during his annual presentation to reporters at the NFL owners' meeting.

One proposal up for a vote Wednesday stems in part from a controversial play with 3:06 remaining in the second quarter of the Cardinals' victory over the Eagles' in the NFC Championship game.

Officials said Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers' short kickoff touched 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).

"We ruled something," Pereira said Tuesday. "I'm not sure what it was."

The proposal before owners Wednesday would allow players to continue playing until someone recovered the ball, even after a whistle. The recovering team would be eligible to receive possession at the spot of recovery. No return yardage would count.

In this case, replays almost surely would have awarded possession to the Cardinals, already leading 21-6, well into Eagles territory. Back with a few more NFC West plays that made the officiating director's cut.

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