NFL Nation: Mike Carey

Wrap-up: Browns 6, Seahawks 3

October, 23, 2011
10/23/11
4:26
PM ET
Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 6-3 road defeat to the Cleveland Browns in Week 7:

What it means: The Seahawks took a huge step backward offensively with Charlie Whitehurst running an offense that was missing center Max Unger and running back Marshawn Lynch. Whitehurst didn't do enough to maintain whatever momentum he had generated in helping get Seattle over the top against the New York Giants two weeks ago. In fact, he made it nearly impossible for anyone to reasonably call for him to remain the starter. Tarvaris Jackson, who missed this game to injury, seemed like a viable alternative by comparison. This was an ugly defeat for Seattle and one the team can blame squarely on its offense.

What I liked: Red Bryant blocked two field-goal attempts. Leon Washington provided an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown, negated only by a questionable penalty for an illegal block in the back. The plays from Bryant and Washington were precisely what Seattle needed to stay competitive despite the horrible showing on offense. Strong safety Kam Chancellor continued to add a physical presence in the secondary, blitzing effectively and making players pay for carrying the ball downfield. He lifted Montario Hardesty off the ground and planted him on his back late in the game as Seattle held the Browns a field-goal attempt. Linebacker David Hawthorne played his best game of the season, making big hits and collecting an interception in the red zone. Defensive end Chris Clemons was disruptive, pressuring Browns quarterback Colt McCoy and roughing him up.

What I didn't like: Whitehurst held the ball too long and made poor decisions at critical times. Tight end Anthony McCoy dropped multiple passes. Ben Obomanu dropped one late in the game when Seattle needed to rally. Bryant lost his cool late in the game, delivering an after-the-play head butt that led to his ejection and allowed the Browns to run out the clock. This was also a horribly officiated game, I thought. Mike Carey's crew applied differing standards for pass-interference penalties, allowing the Browns to get away with hooking Sidney Rice around the waist, only to call them for such a penalty late in the game. The call negating Washington's return seemed touchy and inconsistent with the way Carey's crew allowed contact in the back during the 49ers-Lions game last week.

Injuries of note: The Seahawks lost cornerback Walter Thurmond to an ankle injury. Running back Marshawn Lynch injured his back during warmups and did not play. Lynch's absence affected the game plan and put more pressure on Whitehurst to deliver.

What's next: The Seahawks are home against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8.
Kudos to NFC West colleague Mike Sando for eliciting a rare admission from the NFL regarding a call we discussed in our earlier Dirty Laundry post.

As you recall, referee Mike Carey's crew spotted the ball five yards away from where the San Francisco 49ers' Ted Ginn went out of bounds at the end of a critical punt return in the fourth quarter of the Detroit Lions' 25-19 loss.

Here is the NFL's statement: "The officiating crew incorrectly spotted the ball at the Detroit 35 instead of the 40 where Ted Ginn went out of bounds."

So there you go. I'm not sure that spot was the difference in the game, but it did put the 49ers five yards closer to their eventual game-winning touchdown.

The league didn't comment on the pair of possible illegal blocks that occurred on the play, which is not unusual. Those calls are subjective. Marking the line of scrimmage is an objective exercise, and it was simply a mistake.

Rapid Reaction: 49ers 25, Lions 19

October, 16, 2011
10/16/11
4:55
PM ET
DETROIT -- Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 25-19 victory over the previously unbeaten Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Week 6:

What it means: The 49ers can beat a good team on the road without their best stuff. This makes them a legitimate contender in the NFC. They remain a work in progress, too. Some of the coaching decisions seemed questionable, a departure from form for Jim Harbaugh through the first five games. Alex Smith's inaccuracy resurfaced when he threw too high for Crabtree more than once. But with the game on the line, Smith delivered a 6-yard scoring pass to Delanie Walker for the go-ahead points in the final two minutes. The shortcomings simply show there's room for improvement even though the 49ers are 5-1. That's a great thing for them heading into the bye week. Count this as yet another signature victory for the 49ers under Harbaugh.

What I liked: Frank Gore found ample running room and came through with big plays when the 49ers needed them. Receiver Michael Crabtree also stepped up for the 49ers, including when he provided a 27-yard reception on third down after the teams had combined to convert only twice on 17 third-down opportunities to that point in the game. Rookie Aldon Smith continued to improve, making a huge play when he tackled Matthew Stafford in the end zone for a safety. He collected another sack and forced fumble in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Patrick Willis, though beaten for a touchdown despite very tight coverage, blanketed the Lions' tight ends and helped shut down underneath plays repeatedly. Overall, the 49ers hung tough and went back to the running game late when they needed to run time off the clock with a chance to score the go-ahead touchdown. And Alex Smith's ability to throw the winning touchdown pass in a clutch situation represented a giant step forward. David Akers' strong kicking is easy to take for granted, but without his 55-yard field goal before halftime and 37-yarder late, it's a different game.

What I didn't like: The 49ers played to the Lions' strengths early. They called a pass play to open the game, inviting trouble against a strong pass-rushing team in a noisy environment. It was no surprise, under the circumstances, when the Lions' Kyle Vanden Bosch came through with a sack and forced fumble -- exactly the type of start the 49ers needed to avoid in this environment. The crowd was immediately in the game, and the 49ers compounded the situation with false starts. Early in the second half, the 49ers invited trouble again by going with an empty backfield from their own 20-yard line, tipping off the quick pass that followed (for a 3-yard loss). The 49ers ran the ball well when they gave it to Gore, but they did not give the ball to him frequently enough. At one point in the third quarter, Gore had six carries for 121 yards. He needed more carries against a Lions defense that wasn't very strong against the run. Penalty problems persisted and were a factor in creating the unfavorable down and distance precipitating Alex Smith's interception.

Critical calls: Multiple high-impact rulings from Mike Carey's officiating crew spiced up this game. I didn't see justification for the chop-block call or horse-collar call against the Lions, or the 19-yard interference penalty against 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers. Officials initially disallowed Nate Burleson's touchdown grab for the Lions in a ruling reminiscent of the famous Calvin Johnson play against Chicago last season. Upon review, however, Carey determined that Burleson had possession of the ball long enough before the field goal net resting along the end line dislodged the ball from the receiver's hand. Then, with the game on the line and the 49ers having scored the go-ahead touchdown on fourth-and-6, Carey took another look to see if Walker's knee touched down before the ball crossed the goal line. Carey determined the ruling on the field would stand. Walker's left leg obscured his right knee from view on one of the critical angles.

Calvin Johnson watch: The 49ers generally did a good job against the NFL's leader in touchdown receptions until Johnson broke free for a 41-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Johnson beat Rogers off the line and gained additional yardage after free safety Dashon Goldson missed him. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was the one to catch Johnson. Johnson finished with six receptions for 102 yards, but he went without a touchdown for the first time all season. That counts as a victory for the 49ers no matter how many yards Johnson gained.

Injuries of note: Right guard Adam Snyder left the game with a stinger. Chilo Rachal replaced him.

What's next: The 49ers have a bye.
An end-of-season look at where NFL officiating crews rank in a few categories where discretion and controversy tend to apply, listed by referee (with Walt Coleman scheduled to work Seattle's wild-card game Sunday):

The second chart breaks down defensive pass-interference numbers by crew for the last three seasons.

The next chart breaks down offensive pass interference by crew for the 2010 season only.
Note that Coleman's crew has called only one such penalty this season, second-fewest in the league behind Seattle favorite Bill Leavy.

The next chart breaks down the offensive pass-interference calls by crew for the last three seasons.

The final chart shows three-year totals for roughing the passer, by crew.

Seattle fans might remember the controversial roughing penalty against Seahawks defensive end Raheem Brock during the team's defeat at New Orleans in Week 11.

The pivotal play did not draw a fine, tacit admission that referee Mike Carey's crew erred on the call.

Coleman's crews have only four roughing calls over the last three seasons, fewest in the league among referees working continuously since 2008.

Note: All info from ESPN Stats & Information and includes declined penalties.
BrownScott Boehm/Getty ImagesDonald Brown had the best game of his season Sunday when he rushed for 129 yards on 14 carries.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Sunday’s 34-24 win over Jacksonville put the Colts back in control.

Win at Oakland and against Tennessee, and the Colts will be AFC South champs.

Though both teams are 8-6 and they split the season series, Jacksonville would lose a common-opponents tiebreaker if they both finish 10-6. The Jaguars could win a division-record tiebreaker if the two teams knot at 9-7 with the Colts' loss coming to Tennessee and the Jaguars' win coming at Houston.

Five things I learned while watching the big AFC South showdown unfold:

The Colts can stop a physical run game, and Donald Brown can be an effective running back.

I believe even the Colts expected they’d give up more than 67 rushing yards. In honest moments, they would have expressed doubts about cranking out 155 yards on just 24 carries -- a good share starting up the middle against a physical Jags' front.

Joseph Addai and Mike Hart have been out hurt, but Brown had been tentative as their replacement. In the win at Tennessee, Brown pirouetted more than once in the backfield, costing himself valuable time and faking out no one.

He was much more efficient this time, particularly on his fluid 43-yard touchdown run.

“[The Colts] heard all week how they couldn’t stop our run game and they did a pretty good job,” Jags coach Jack Del Rio said. “...They’ve had issues stopping the run against us and against others. They got it done [Sunday], you’ve got to give them credit.”

Brown praised his blocking: “When you are in the secondary and it is the first time you are getting touched, that makes for a great day.”

Jags tailback Maurice Jones-Drew said it was the best run-stopping work he could remember from the Colts against his team. He rushed 15 times for 46 yards, ending his streak of consecutive 100-yard games at six with his worst game ever against Indy.

“They were at their gaps all the time and they tackled well,” he said.

Austin Collie is an absolute difference-maker.

The Jaguars had no answer for the Colts receiver while he was in the game. Peyton Manning found him eight times for 87 yards and two touchdowns before a hit by Daryl Smith left Collie with another concussion in the second quarter.

If Dallas Clark or Addai was around, Collie might be less vital. But without either of them available, Collie simply gives Manning a prime target who is reliable and has great instincts. That's a quality otherwise missing.

“He was good in the first half, I don’t know if we stopped him,” Del Rio said. “He certainly gave them a life and they were excited to have him back, I think. He must have something going there. He came back slowly over a long period of time and there was a good shot and he’s down again. That’s usually not good for a guy.”

The Colts need two wins to assure themselves of the division title. They’ll have a harder time getting them without Collie.

“He said it wasn’t as bad as the last one, so that’s good news,” Reggie Wayne said. “But they are all bad.”

The Jaguars' issues at safety are too difficult to overcome until they get to add new talent.

[+] EnlargeAustin Collie
AP Photo/AJ MastAustin Collie scored two touchdowns against Jacksonville before leaving the game with a concussion at the end of the first half.
At least they’d built some continuity with six games of Don Carey and Courtney Greene side-by-side. But Greene sprained a shoulder at Tennessee. Indy took advantage of Greene replacement Sean Considine’s relative lack of speed and tackling abilities.

Both Carey and Considine were unable to get to the middle of the field on Collie’s second touchdown, when he ran away from Smith. Carey couldn’t catch up to the receiver and Considine didn’t arrive in time from the other side of the field.

“There were a few times, yeah, where we had shots in the middle of the field,” Colts tight end Jacob Tamme said. “That second touchdown to Austin, they were taking away certain things and the middle of the field was there, it was a great call, a really nice throw by Peyton.”

Jags cornerback Rashean Mathis said not to point too much at Considine, who let Brown hold him off with a hand-to-hand stiff arm and got beat by Collie on the first touchdown -- to point to just a couple plays.

“I actually felt Sean had a very good game,” Mathis said. “We all could have made more plays. I don’t think he actually gave anything up. What looked like his fault it probably wasn’t. I know it’s a busted coverage and he was the main guy that was back there, but it wasn’t his fault.”

David Garrard was one big mistake away from a potentially fantastic game.

He made some very good throws and really did well to pick up for what the run game could not do.

He averaged 12.3 yards per completion, compared to 7.9 for Manning.

But then came the game's crucial moment. Garrard drove Jacksonville to the touchdown that closed Indy’s lead to 24-17 with 3 minutes, 54 seconds left in the third period. The Jags' defense forced a Colts' punt about two minutes later. But from the Colts' 38, Garrard overthrew Jason Hill and got picked off by Antoine Bethea. The Colts drove for a Adam Vinatieri field goal and had a 10-point cushion with 9:57 to play.

“It was a little high,” Garrard said of the throw, after which he got crushed by Dwight Freeney. “Pressure or no pressure, I still have to be able to make that throw. I have to be able to stand in there and deliver.”

Given a chance to clarify things, referee Mike Carey didn’t, did he?

It was not a good day for Carey and his officiating crew. The non-fair catch call on the Jags' Mike Thomas prior to his 78-yard punt return for a touchdown was a judgment call. The Colts thought it was a signal, Thomas said it wasn’t and the officiating crew agreed with him.

But other stuff took too long to sort out and was not sufficiently explained.

On a Jacksonville third-and-3 from the Indy 40-yard line in the first quarter, the Jaguars ran a play and Rashad Jennings got stuffed. There was a flag, Carey announced there was no foul and Jacksonville was allowed to replay third down.

“I blew it dead for a false start and we picked up that flag,” Carey told a pool reporter. “That means there was no play. So I shut it down, a dead ball foul.”

Was it an inadvertent whistle?

“No,” he said. “It was just a foul that wasn’t there."

If you follow that, you’re doing better than I am.

The muffed punt call where the Colts recovered it was ultimately hashed out correctly. The Colts didn’t technically interfere with a fair catch as Taj Smith was blocked in the back by the Jags' Derek Cox and that pushed him into Thomas. The Jags' returner failed to make the catch as a result of a penalty against his own team. The Colts’ Kavell Conner had recovered, so they declined the penalty. But the play helped put the Colts into position to expand their lead to 24-10 with a field goal in the third period.

Carey and crew got it right, which is most important. But it took entirely too long to sort it out. (More on officiating here.)

Rapid Reaction: Colts 34, Jaguars 24

December, 19, 2010
12/19/10
4:17
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- Thoughts on the Colts’ win over the Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium.

What it means: The Colts have caught the Jaguars at 8-6 and have gained control of their own destiny. If Indianapolis wins its final two games, it’s assured of the AFC South crown. Jacksonville had such control but lost it late in the season for the fourth time in seven years.

What I liked: Indianapolis ran it with a good deal of success against a run defense that’s been quite stout. The Colts found the Jaguars’ weakness and abused it, making plays against the Jaguars’ safeties, particularly Sean Considine, who struggled against both the run and the pass. Tyjuan Hagler did great work to ice it, snatching a weak onside kick with 1:47 remaining and sprinting to a 41-yard touchdown.

What I didn’t like: Far too many confusing calls by referee Mike Carey and his crew. Two of them in the first half benefited the Jaguars.

Decisive moment: Marcedes Lewis made a great play to pull in a high David Garrard pass on a big touchdown drive late in the third quarter. But Garrard’s next too-high pass couldn’t be saved. It sailed over Jason Hill and was intercepted by Antoine Bethea. The Colts drove to a field goal that gave them a two-score lead.

Injury concern: Austin Collie provided a huge boost to the Colts' offense while catching two touchdown passes, but Daryl Smith delivered a hard hit in the second quarter. Smith’s arm banged Collie’s helmet. The team announced the receiver had a concussion. It’s his second of the season and he had just made it back from the first.

What’s next: The Colts head to Oakland to face the Raiders. The Jaguars host the Washington Redskins.

Rapid Reaction: Saints 34, Seahawks 19

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
7:27
PM ET

NEW ORLEANS -- Thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 34-19 loss against the New Orleans Saints in Week 11:

What it means: The Seahawks weren't good enough to go toe-to-toe against Drew Brees in the Superdome, but they looked like the best team in the NFC West on this day. Watching quarterback Matt Hasselbeck over the past two games should give the Seahawks hope heading into their final six games. The team remains atop the NFC West with a 5-5 record heading into consecutive home games. The second-place Rams (4-6) play their next three on the road.

What I liked: The Seahawks forced their offensive tempo upon the Saints and made big, timely plays in the passing game. Hasselbeck commanded the offense effectively in a hostile environment, silencing the Superdome crowd with accurate passes. He looked like a Pro Bowl quarterback while completing 32 of 44 passes for 366 yards, one touchdown and a 104.9 rating. His protection was outstanding (no sacks). Receivers Mike Williams, Brandon Stokley and Ben Obomanu exploited the Saints' secondary. Williams caught six passes for 109 yards before leaving the game with a toe injury.

What I didn't like: Seattle's tackling was too often horrendous. Defensive players were bouncing off Saints running back Chris Ivory and others, including receiver Marques Colston. On offense, running back Marshawn Lynch lost two fumbles in a game for the first time in his career. Those turnovers prevented Seattle from keeping this game closer. The Seahawks replaced him late in the game.

You make the call: Questionable officiating affected the game negatively. The Saints scored a touchdown late in the first half after referee Mike Carey's crew turned a third-and-3 incomplete pass into first down near midfield with a roughing penalty against Seahawks defensive end Raheem Brock. The hit appeared clean. The play was pivotal and forced Seattle to play from behind.

Injuries of note: Seattle lost Williams, its leading receiver, and Marcus Trufant, its top cornerback, to injuries. Trufant suffered what the team described as a head injury. Left guard Chester Pitts was limping throughout the game.

What's next: The Seahawks return home to face Kansas City and Carolina over the next two weeks.


If you’re a cornerback, there are two effective ways to defend a pass. One is to prevent an airborne ball from reaching the receiver. The second is to separate the ball and the receiver before the play can be ruled a legal catch.

Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman took the latter route on a hotly-contested incomplete pass to Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings during the first quarter of last Sunday’s game at Soldier Field. Jennings caught the ball in the end zone with two feet in bounds, but Tillman’s last-second lunge forced Jennings to lose control as he fell to the ground.

Jennings
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesIt was ruled that Greg Jennings did not maintain possession as Charles Tillman took him to the ground.
Referee Mike Carey’s crew ruled the pass incomplete and upheld the decision upon review. The NFL office has stood behind the call, as reported here by Greg A. Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and I agree that Carey made the right decision based on the wording of the rule. To me, the bigger issue is the inconsistency it creates in end zone officiating.

First, though, let’s look at what happened. About midway through the quarter, Jennings ran past Tillman and seemed to catch a 36-yard touchdown pass. Replays showed that Jennings secured the ball in his left arm and then stepped with his right foot, left foot and right foot (again) in the end zone. Only after that point did Tillman’s contact cause Jennings to drop the ball as both players collided with a security official.

Here is the rule that applies:

If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.

I think you could make a reasonable argument that Jennings was no longer in the act of catching the pass by the time he started falling, that he had established possession before that point. But the bottom line is that Jennings did not “maintain control of the ball after he touch[ed] the ground,” giving Carey no choice but to rule the pass incomplete. Credit Tillman for an aggressive recovery after he was initially beat.

But if Jennings is required to maintain possession even after getting two feet in bounds, then this rule seems to violate the “time stops” element of plays in the end zone. Typically, what happens after a player establishes possession in the end zone is irrelevant.

I realize this rule means Jennings officially did not establish and maintain possession, but stay with me for a moment. How many times have you seen a running back awarded a touchdown after diving over the line of scrimmage, ball extended, and cross the plane before having it knocked away? When is the last time you saw a player called for a fumble after being hit in the end zone?

So for me, it doesn’t make intuitive sense to subject the Jennings play to continuation judgment beyond the establishment of possession. If a touchdown is awarded on a running play the moment the ball crosses the plane, then shouldn’t the same occur the moment a receiver secures a pass and gets two feet down -- regardless of what happens afterward?

OK, enough preaching for today. On to our updated Challenge Tracker:

Tari writes via Facebook: How would you go about researching which NFL officiating crews throw the most laundry? I am curious for the sake of pure argument, but my buddy wants to know for his fantasy league team.

Mike Sando: I have personally tracked assessed penalties and replay challenges since Mike Holmgren complained about officiating in Super Bowl XL. I also went back through records to include data since 2001. ESPN Stats & Information also tracks this information. My replay information is more detailed because it counts booth challenges, but its referee information is superior because it counts declined penalties, not just accepted ones. Its information also breaks down penalty types by crew.

Based on my records, Ron Winter's crews have assessed more penalties per game since 2003 than those headed by any of the 16 other current referees. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Winter's crew is calling more total penalties per game -- accepted plus declined -- than any other crew in 2009.

Scott Green is working the 49ers-Packers game in Week 11. Ed Hochuli is working the Seahawks-Vikings game. I'll check on the Cardinals-Rams referee once I get to the Edward Jones Dome a little later.


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Referee 2009 Replay Reversals
Don Carey
6
Al Riveron
3
Jerome Boger
2
Terry McAulay
2
John Parry
2
Gene Steratore
2
Mike Carey
1
Carl Cheffers
1
Walt Coleman
1
Tony Corrente
1
Scott Green
1
Ed Hochuli
1
Peter Morelli
1
Jeff Triplette
1
Ron Winter
1
Walt Anderson
0
Bill Leavy
0
AVERAGES
1.5

Based on Jim Mora's general postgame comportment Sunday, the Seahawks' coach is probably fortunate no one asked what role officiating played in the game.

Referee Don Carey, who accounted for five of 19 replay reversals through Week 2, made his league-leading sixth reversal a memorable one when he returned possession to the Bears following Matt Forte's fumble at the Seattle 1-yard line. Linebacker David Hawthorne had recovered for the Seahawks, who held a 13-0 lead at the time.

"A decision will be reversed only when the referee has indisputable visual evidence available to him," the rule book states.

This one appeared inconclusive at best.

Mora's postgame rant against kicker Olindo Mare might have read differently had anyone pressed for his thoughts on Carey's reversal. I doubt he would have the ruling, uh, acceptable.

"If you’re a kicker in the National Football League you should make those kicks -- bottom line," Mora said of Mare. "End of story. Period. No excuses. No wind, doesn’t matter. You’ve gotta makes those kicks. Especially in a game like this, where you’re kicking and fighting and scratching your tail off and you miss those kicks, it’s not acceptable. Not acceptable. Absolutely not acceptable."

Carey suffered two reversals -- and Mike Singletary's ire -- while working the 49ers-Cardinals game in Week 1. He suffered three more reversals in Week 2. The NFL's 17 referees have suffered 26 replay reversals in 48 games this season. More than a third involved calls made by Carey, a rookie referee, and second-year ref Al Riveron.

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


ARLINGTON, Texas -- On the Cowboys' first scoring drive of the evening, all three running backs played a major role. Actually, Felix Jones got things started with his 38-yard kickoff return. Marion Barber did most of the damage, including the short touchdown run. But it was Tashard Choice who had a powerful run on third-and-3 when the ball was close to midfield.

I talked to running backs coach Skip Peete about how he was going to use the three players during training camp. He wasn't too concerned because he was coaching with the Raiders when they had three pretty solid backs in Tyrone Wheatley, Charlie Garner (and I believe Napoleon Kaufman, but that's off the top of my head).

On the touchdown run, right guard Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo put a combo block on Fred Robbins to drive him off the ball. Cowboys dominated the line of scrimmage during that drive. And the Giants did not get any pressure on Tony Romo. Dallas has to feel really good about how this game's going right now.

DeMarcus Ware is giving Giants right tackle Kareem McKenzie a lot of trouble off the edge. My favorite moment in the new stadium so far: Referee Mike Carey forgot to turn off his mic after the coin toss and you could hear him for the next five minutes trying to find the coin. Really got the evening off to a nice start.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Referee2008 Games Worked
Booth- initiated Challenges
Gene Steratore 14
11
Ron Winter
14
11
Tony Corrente
13
10
Ed Hochuli
14
8
Peter Morelli
13
5
Walt Anderson
12
5
Jerome Boger
13
4
Terry McAulay
13
4
Walt Coleman
14
3
Scott Green
13
3
Jeff Triplette
13
2
Bill Leavy
13
2
John Parry
13
2
Al Riveron
14
2
Carl Cheffers
13
1
Bill Carollo
13
1
Mike Carey
11
1
AVERAGES
13.1
4.4

Replay officials have challenged rulings more frequently since the last time we pointed out wide disparities in replay rates during the final 2 minutes of halves.

Four referees hadn't faced a single booth-initiated challenge through Week 13. Those four referees have faced five such challenges in the last two weeks.

The challenge Walt Coleman faced in Baltimore was only the third raised against him this season in the final 2 minutes of a half, according to information I have tracked since 2003. Referees Gene Steratore, Ron Winter, Tony Corrente and Ed Hochuli have faced a combined 40 such challenges.

The NFL assigns the same replay officials to the same referees as part of an overall effort to foster continuity among crews.

If replay officials applied the same standards each game, we might expect referees to face a similar number of booth-initiated challenges over time.

That was not the case in past seasons and it isn't the case in 2008. The inconsistent numbers raise the possibility of inconsistent standards for challenges. 

The chart shows booth-initiated challenges by referee. NFL games featured 33 total challenges in Week 15, a season high even without the Monday night game. Total challenges have risen each week since Week 12 (from 19 to 25 to 27 to 33).

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

RefereePenalties Assessed Per GameReplay ChallengesReplay Reversals
Jeff Triplette15.3103
Ron Winter15.1103
Jerome Boger
14.73
0
Walt Anderson
13.3113
Tony Corrente 13.094
Bill Carollo
13.053
Ed Hochuli
12.710
4
John Parry
12.760
Bill Leavy
12.064
Peter Morelli
11.795
Terry McAulay
11.172
Al Riveron
10.952
Mike Carey
10.6
41
Gene Steratore
10.3113
Carl Cheffers
10.2
6
3
Scott Green
10.1
85
Walt Coleman
9.4
41
AVERAGES
12.17.3
2.7

Scott Green's crew assessed zero penalties against the Patriots. Al Riveron's crew assessed one penalty against the Browns.

Those figures helped bring down the overall numbers for Week 8, despite the Rams' protests.

The chart breaks down crews by referee, penalties assessed per game, replay challenges and replay reversals.

The number of replay challenges per game increased every season from 2003 to 2007, but the numbers are down to their lowest levels since 2004 this season. Fewer challenges mean fewer interruptions, generally a good thing in my view.

John Parry and Jerome Boger remained the only referees without a replay reversal this season. Peter Morelli joined Green with a league-high five reversals after initially disallowing a Chiefs touchdown pass against the Jets.

Available for download: full crew-by-crew breakdowns for penalties and replay.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

RefereePenalties Assessed Per GameReplay ChallengesReplay Reversals
Jeff Triplette16.292
Ron Winter15.3103
Jerome Boger
15.03
0
Walt Anderson
13.2103
Ed Hochuli
12.7104
Bill Carollo
12.732
Peter Morelli
12.47
3
John Parry
12.360
Bill Leavy
12.064
Tony Corrente
11.862
Al Riveron
11.452
Terry McAulay
11.372
Mike Carey
11.0
41
Scott Green
10.385
Carl Cheffers
10.2
6
3
Gene Steratore
10.0
102
Walt Coleman
9.3
31
AVERAGES
12.26.6
2.3

NFL officiating crews have assessed between 9.3 and 16.2 penalties per game this season. The range was between 8.9 and 14.3 last season.

The chart breaks down crews by referee, penalties assessed per game, replay challenges and replay reversals.

John Parry and Jerome Boger remained the only referees without a replay reversal this season. Parry shot down Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, who had been 4-0 in challenges this season.

Ron Winter, working the Colts-Packers game, became the fifth referee to suffer two reversals in a game this season. He reversed Indy touchdowns on consecutive plays, but the Colts scored on the third try.

Scott Green, working the Seahawks-Bucs game, suffered his league-high fifth reversal of the season when Mike Holmgren challenged Ike Hilliard's fumble.

Assessed penalties have climbed over the last three weeks. The crews of Walt Anderson (49ers-Giants), Boger (Jets-Raiders) and Winter (Colts-Packers) each assessed more than 20 penalties during Week 7, the first time this season three crews have reached that total.

RefereePenalties Assessed Per GameReplay ChallengesReplay Reversals
Jeff Triplette17.47
2
Ron Winter14.281
Peter Morelli
14.053
Jerome Boger
13.830
Ed Hochuli
13.794
Bill Carollo
13.422
John Parry
12.250
Tony Corrente
11.862
Terry McAulay
11.862
Bill Leavy
11.864
Scott Green
11.474
Al Riveron11.241
Mike Carey
11.041
Walt Anderson
11.092
Carl Cheffers
9.652
Walt Coleman
9.33 1
Gene Steratore
9.0102
AVERAGES
12.15.8
1.9

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

NFL officiating crews have assessed between nine and 17.4 penalties per game this season. The range was between 8.9 and 14.3 last season.

The chart breaks down crews by referee, penalties assessed per game, replay challenges and replay reversals.

NFC West teams have lamented several influential calls already this season. A few:
  • In Week 1, Gene Steratore's crew flagged 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald for roughing the passer on a third-and-9 play. The disputed penalty helped the Cardinals sustain a third-quarter touchdown drive as they extended a 13-10 lead to 20-10.
  • In Week 2, Jerome Boger's crew flagged Seahawks safety Deon Grant for pass interference, negating an interception in the end zone. Replays revealed the call as dubious. The 49ers scored a touchdown shortly thereafter.
  • In Week 7, Peter Morelli's crew ruled Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo down, negating a lost fumble. The call appeared unwarranted.

Referees and their crews make the right calls hundreds of times each season. That buys them little relief when calls go wrong. Ed Hochuli knows this better than most.

I'm keeping a log of questionable calls involving NFC West teams this season. The three listed above stood out. If you have others, let me know. Thanks in advance.

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