Monday, September 9, 2013
A convenient but fair solution for NFL
By Kevin Seifert
So the NFL let it be known Monday that one officiating error in essence wiped out another one during the San Francisco 49ers' 34-28 victory Sunday over the Green Bay Packers.
Is that fair? Or is it convenient?
In the end, I would say it's probably both.
To recap: Referee Bill Leavy's crew originally called offsetting personal foul penalties on Packers linebacker Clay Matthews and 49ers left tackle Joe Staley in the second quarter at Candlestick Park. Matthews hit quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of bounds, while Staley rushed to the scene and got into a shoving match with Matthews.
Dead-ball fouls are not supposed to lead to a replay of the down, according to NFL rules, but Leavy mistakenly ruled a replay of third down. The 49ers scored a touchdown on the next play rather than being forced to kick a field goal. The Packers seemed to get the short end of that trade-off.
The NFL admitted its mistake Sunday, but according to multiple media reports, the league also determined Monday that Staley should not have been called for a penalty at all. In that scenario, Matthews' penalty would have stood and given the 49ers a first-and-goal.
In other words, the league's official ruling is that the Packers weren't victimized because there never should have been an offsetting situation in the first place. That's an awfully convenient way to quell a controversy, but in this case, I think it's the right one.
When you look at the replay, you see Staley sprint over to Matthews but really never engage him physically other than to grab his shoulder pads. Viewed clinically, his actions didn't rise to the level of a personal foul.
In this case, at least, all is well that ended well.