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Sunday, November 23, 2008
Referee assignment recalls Week 6 controversy


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

PHOENIX -- Officiating generally isn't a hot topic until the flags have flown (or not flown, or been picked up after being thrown).

But the referee assignment for the Giants-Cardinals game caught my attention. Peter Morelli, whose crew botched key calls during the Cowboys-Cardinals game in Week 6, gets the assignment at University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 12.

Morelli's crew assessed 12 penalties against each team during the Cardinals' 30-24 overtime victory over the Cowboys in Week 6. Two calls involving Darnell Dockett's attempts to take down Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo nearly cost the Cardinals a victory. The plays became secondary story lines once the Cardinals prevailed. As I wrote at the time:

The blown call on Dockett's fumble-forcing sack might have become the story had the Cardinals lost this game.

Referee Peter Morelli and crew needed a replay reversal to fix the other play involving Dockett. The reversal, though warranted, shined light on the confusing and controversial tuck rule.

The NFL loses when officiating decisions threaten to influence outcomes while defying logic.

Expect a follow-up item if the Cardinals sack Eli Manning and force a fumble, only to have officials rule Manning down by contact. On a side note, the NFL might be moving past shielding referees from games involving aggrieved teams.