NFL Nation: Scott Green
In examining the issue this week, ESPN's NFL Nation learned that the league will analyze and possibly streamline a set of rules that has grown unwieldy with exceptions, specific scenarios and archaic applications. Indeed, even some of the league's most experienced officials have tripped this season in applying rules.
The issue should come as no surprise, according to former NFL referee Gerry Austin, now an ESPN analyst. A decade's worth of adding nuances to prevent specific instances, not to mention the expansion of instant replay, have taken its toll.
"Over the last 10 or 12 years there have been some changes in rules and interpretations," Austin said. "Up until that point, there were some truly basic guidelines that an official on the field could follow and apply in application of the rules. Now, one overriding factor is that every rule has numerous exceptions. Those all came about when an instance would occur and decision would be made to incorporate it into the rulebook. Now the NFL rulebook has such a large number of exceptions and that adds to the complexity of things. We always had a hard-core basic set of application guidelines and process, and I think that maybe over the past 12 years those got messed with some."
According to Austin, there is hope that NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino will conduct "an in-depth analysis and see where they can bring some of those changes back to the center, so you can get back to a core application of the rules instead of saying, 'This rule applies except "
In a statement, NFL spokesman Michael Signora said the league is "constantly studying ways we can improve all facets of our game, including officiating. That includes a rigorous review of the rules, which we analyze each season to identify areas for improvement. The goal of our officiating department is the consistent application of the rules across the board. If there are aspects of the rules we can simplify to aid in that effort, we will work with the Competition Committee to recommend those changes."
The complexities have at least contributed to a series of incorrect decisions, several of which occurred last weekend. Among the examples:
- Referee Bill Leavy misapplied a dead-ball foul in Week 1, resulting in the San Francisco 49ers playing the wrong down. In Week 3, Leavy administered the wrong enforcement of a penalty against Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier for challenging an automatically reviewed play.
- A Week 7 discussion between Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz and a member of referee Scott Green's crew ended with the agreement that an apparent forward pass after a blocked kick was not reviewable. In a statement released after the game, the NFL confirmed it was.
- In Sunday night's game at Lucas Oil Stadium, referee Carl Cheffers lost track of an exception to the rule that gives a defense time to match an offense's substitutions. The rule doesn't apply in the final two minutes of a half, and it cost the Denver Broncos about 10 seconds as their comeback attempt fell short.
- Referee Jerome Boger correctly penalized the New England Patriots for a never-before called infraction on a field-goal attempt. After the game and the following morning, Patriots coach Bill Belichick revealed he hadn't fully understood the intricacies of the rule himself.
None of these mistakes were issues of judgment. Coaches and officials weren't arguing whether a receiver was interfered with, or if an offensive lineman was holding or whether a running back got the ball past the first-down marker. They were a simple confusion of facts by officials who take weekly rule tests and discuss the answers in pregame meetings.
Technically, there are 17 rules listed in the 2013 NFL rulebook. Those 17 rules, however, are spread out in tiny type over a 121-page document in PDF form. That should give you some idea of the nuance now inherent in playing, administering and managing an NFL game. Is it reasonable to expect officials, let alone coaches and players, to have it all on quick mental recall during a game? ESPN's NFL Nation questioned a cross-section of the league to find out:
-- Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, as told to ESPN Cowboys reporter Todd Archer
-- Panthers coach Ron Rivera, as told to ESPN Panthers reporter David Newton
-- Bills center Eric Wood, as told to ESPN Bills reporter Mike Rodak
-- Broncos coach John Fox, as told to ESPN Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold
-- Raiders coach Dennis Allen, as told to ESPN Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez
-- Steelers safety Ryan Clark, as told to ESPN Steelers reporter Scott Brown
-- Bengals WR Marvin Jones, as told to ESPN Bengals reporter Coley Harvey
-- Saints guard Jahri Evans, as told to ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett
-- Lions guard Rob Sims, as told To ESPN Lions reporter Michael Rothstein
-- Packers DT Ryan Pickett, as told to ESPN Packers reporter Rob Demovsky.
- Charles Woodson has seen just about everything in his 15-year career. He has even suffered, rehabilitated and returned from the same injury that cost him nine regular-season games this year. And yet Woodson freely admitted he was "scared" about the first contact he would take on his right collarbone Saturday night. An early takedown of tailback Adrian Peterson boosted his confidence, however, and Woodson said: "Getting that first tackle, hitting the ground a couple of times, having people fall on top of me, on the side where I broke it, and to get up with no pain, that was a load off my shoulders." It just goes to show that even the toughest and most experienced athletes experience the same doubts we would all have in that situation.ESPN.com
- Woodson played a significant role in limiting Peterson to 99 rushing yards, adding a sure tackler to a defense that had struggled to bring Peterson to the ground in two previous games. (More than half of Peterson's yards came after the Packers took their 24-3 lead in the third quarter.) Peterson managed only 32 yards after contact after piling up 230 such yards against the Packers in the first two games. Packers players credited more disciplined lane integrity when Peterson tried to break runs outside; he managed just 4 yards after contact and a total of 20 yards on runs outside the tackles. Better tackling and contain no doubt played the biggest roles, but it's also worth noting that defensive coordinator Dom Capers increased his rate of putting at least eight men in the box from 23.6 percent in the first two games to 31.8 on Saturday night, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Peterson managed only 3.3 yards per carry in those situations, and Woodson made clear that the elevated run support wasn't a bi-product of Joe Webb replacing Christian Ponder at quarterback. "No disrespect to Ponder," Woodson said, "but bringing a guy down in the box isn't about Christian Ponder [sitting out]. It's about one guy. That's Adrian Peterson. Our main focus, whether it was Ponder or Webb, was to keep [Peterson] from getting off. If we could get the ball in the quarterback's hands, whatever quarterback it was, we felt good about that."
- The Vikings made a conscious choice to stay back in coverage and do whatever they could to limit the downfield threat posed by the long-awaited reunion of the Packers' top four receivers. And then the Vikings became the latest team to realize that quarterback Aaron Rodgers can find the holes in just about every defense. In Week 17, he brutalized replacement nickelback Marcus Sherels. Saturday night, Rodgers played the short game to near-perfect. Three-quarters of his 33 passes traveled fewer than 15 yards in the air, and 10 of them went no further than the original line of scrimmage. Overall, Rodgers completed 21 of 28 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown when the Vikings sent their standard rush and put seven or eight men in coverage. Against their blitz, Rodgers took three sacks and completed only two of five passes. So it goes with an All-Pro quarterback. Rodgers now has 25 touchdown passes and four interceptions in 11 career starts against the Vikings.
How did referee Scott Green's crew miss left guard T.J. Lang being 5 yards downfield on John Kuhn's touchdown reception in the third quarter? The mistake had nothing to do with the outcome of the game, but even Lang was laughing afterwards about how far downfield he got before Rodgers threw the ball. Typically, an offensive lineman has a grace area of about 1 yard past the line of scrimmage on screen passes. Lang was past the 4-yard line and the line of scrimmage was at the 9. "I was a little lost," Lang said. "I think I was at the goal line by the time the ball was thrown. I just had to hide my number to make sure they didn't throw a flag. The refs didn't catch it."
As you know by now, Schwartz challenged referee Walt Coleman's ruling that Texans running back Justin Forsett had scored on an 81-yard touchdown run; Forsett was down by contact before he popped up and continued running into the end zone. Touchdowns are automatically reviewed by the game's replay official, and the NFL rule book calls for a 15-yard penalty when a coach challenges one.
It is technically considered a delay of game, and by rule, the penalty prohibits a review of the play.
Many of you have asked, quite simply: Why?
Most likely, the rule was intended to add some teeth to the league's desire to prevent coaches from throwing their flags on automatic reviews to add more time to the replay official's window to made a decision. You might argue that the referee doesn't put the ball back into play until after the official makes the final ruling, but as we found out Sunday at Soldier Field, that is not always the case.
In fact, the replay official can take a second look at a play if a new angle or more information surfaces after an initial ruling and before the next snap.
That's precisely what happened in the third quarter Sunday, when Minnesota Vikings safety Mistral Raymond was initially awarded a touchdown after scooping up and returning a fumble by the Chicago Bears' Matt Forte. Fumbles and touchdowns are automatically reviewed, and replay official Carl Madsen spent one minute, 11 seconds analyzing the play after referee Scott Green's initial call.
None of the video angles available during that period of time showed a clear view of when Forte's knees touched the ground, which is why Madsen initially confirmed the touchdown.
Green announced it as such, and in normal situations, the Vikings would have set up and kicked the extra point. In this instance, though, a few things happened after the confirmation. First, a new angle appeared on the scoreboard at Soldier Field. Second, the Bears' medical staff was still tending to Forte's injured ankle. As Forte walked off the field, Green announced that the play would continue to be reviewed.
An NFL spokesman told Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com that Madsen and Green were well within league rules to "un-confirm" the touchdown. Later angles showed stronger evidence that Forte's knees touched the ground before the fumble, and he was ruled down by contact.
Now, let's project a scenario where Forte was off the field by the time Madsen initially confirmed the touchdown and there was no new replay on the Soldier Field scoreboard. Without the delay-of-game rule and its consequences, Bears coach Lovie Smith could conceivably have challenged the play to give Madsen more time to see a different angle. That's what the NFL was trying to avoid with this rule. Replay after scores and fumbles are entirely out of the coaches' and teams' hands.
In the end, however, it wound up with an unintended consequence. The goal of replay is to get calls right, and the process shouldn't be used as a carrot to enforce other rules. That's why the league likely will re-write the rule to allow a review to continue even if an coach is penalized for delay of game. But there is reason to think the penalty for delay of game -- and perhaps more -- will stick if a coach challenges an automatic review in the future. One idea: Take away a coach's remaining challenges if he throws his red flag on an automatic review.
If you haven't already heard, referee Terry McAulay will work the game at Soldier Field.
Cue the collective groan from Green Bay and hysterics from Chicago.
Yes, McAulay also worked the teams' Week 3 matchup, one in which the Packers absorbed a team-record 18 penalties. A few of them proved monumental in determining the outcome of the game; the Packers lost one touchdown and two takeaways, and they were also called for pass interference late in the fourth quarter to set up the Bears' game-winning field goal.
This time around, McAulay will head an "all-star" crew that won't necessarily include the same men who worked the Week 3 game. Regardless, the referee sets the tone for any crew, and for that reason I thought it was worth checking whether or not that Week 3 game proved a trend or an aberration for McAulay this season. Happily for Packers fans, it was more the latter.
Using a database maintained by ESPN Stats & Information along with NFC West colleague Mike Sando, I grabbed penalty totals for each crew this season. The numbers to the right represent both accepted and declined penalties, which I think provides a better gauge for how active a crew has been.
As you can see, McAulay called the eighth-most penalties this season, placing him squarely in the middle of the referee pack. (Detroit Lions fans will notice that Ed Hochuli, our resident activist referee, was tied for the most.)
McAulay's total included 24 called penalties (against both teams) in the Week 3 game. When you subtract that total, you find his crew called an average of 13.4 penalties in his other 14 games. (Crews work 15 games per season.)
So while his name might conjure bad memories for Packers fans, the assignment probably could have been worse. We won't even start with Hochuli. Look at the name who is third from the bottom of the list. Scott Green's crew called only 183 penalties this season; Green was the referee for the Packers' wild-card playoff loss last season to the Arizona Cardinals. There were two disputed non-calls in overtime of that game, a helmet-to-helmet hit against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and an apparent face mask on the Rodgers fumble that led to the Cardinals' victory.
Sando examined a few specific penalty categories earlier this month, paying special attention to calls that require discretion and often lead to controversy. The only McAulay revelation that stood out to me was that his crew tended to call more offensive pass interference penalties than others. So watch the push-offs, guys. Let's play -- and call -- a clean game.
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.
Weatherford stumbled as Packers safety Anthony Smith tried to upend him near the right sideline. He ultimately fell with the ball marked at the 39-yard line, enough for a first down. But even watching live, it seemed clear to me that Weatherford’s left foot had touched the sideline far earlier. Replays quickly confirmed it wasn’t even close.
It was an obvious missed call by referee Jeff Triplette’s crew, and McCarthy’s challenge got it reversed. Good move by McCarthy, but for me, it was more evidence for why the NFL is wrong to burden coaches with oversight of officials during games.
I would welcome disagreements, but I thought the Weatherford call was just as egregious as the two Percy Harvin touchdowns that ultimately were reversed Oct. 24 at Lambeau Field. One came when referee Scott Green’s crew missed Harvin stepping out of bounds a full yard before running into the end zone. The other was a booth review of Harvin’s one-foot dance at the back of the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
Viewed together, those calls represent a systemic issue that can’t be solved by two (and occasionally three) coach-initiated challenges per game. The challenge system was created in part to add a level of strategy to the game, but if we’re at a point where officials are missing what seem to be routine and obvious calls, there needs to be another way of rectifying them -- one that is independent of any strategy. Coaches shouldn’t have to decide whether it’s worth losing a timeout, or future challenges of less obvious calls, to get it right.
We discussed other options last week, including more liberal use of booth replays and even the NHL’s system of having a centrally located official monitoring replays of games from the league office. Whatever the answer, it seems counterintuitive for coaches to weigh a costs for getting reasonably called games.
Now, on to our updated Challenge Tracker:
Fisher, who interacts with the officiating department often as co-chair of the powerful competition committee, has been here to work for the NFL Network and will be at the dinner Thursday.
It’s the final such evening for the director of officiating, Mike Pereira, who is retiring and will be replaced by Carl Johnson.
“They’ll probably be something special for Mike,” Fisher said. “I think he’s done a tremendous job. I say this over and over. Coaches on Mondays either win or lose games. He loses every Monday, it’d be hard on him, that’s how it is.
“I don’t think people around the league realize how hard he works to try to achieve some consistency and to maintain consistency in the grading system and everything that’s involved in his job. People on the committee happen to have a better understanding because we work with him during the offseason.”
It’s cool that the league does the dinner for the Super Bowl crew.
Here’s the list of those who’ll be featured guests:
Referee Scott Green, umpire Undrey Wash, head linesman John McGrath, line judge Jeff Seeman, field judge Rob Vernatchi, side judge Greg Meyer and back judge Greg Steed. The replay assistant is Jim Lapetina and the video operator is Jim Pearson.
Scott Green will be the referee and lead the seven man crew. Green served as back judge in two previous Super Bowls and has officiated 12 playoff games in a 19-year career. Joining him will be umpire Undrey Wash, head linesman John McGrath, line judge Jeff Seeman, field judge Rob Vernatchi, side judge Greg Meyer and back judge Greg Steed.
Jim Lapetina will be the replay assistant and Jim Pearson will be the video operator.
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
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.
|Jim Rogash/Getty Images|
|After a layoff of 20 months, Tom Brady finally gets another chance to finish a football game.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Carl Cheffers tweeted his referee's whistle to start the 25-second play clock.
At that moment, Tom Brady was just another man.
His three Super Bowl rings, two Super Bowl MVP awards and four Pro Bowl selections didn't matter a smidgen. Brady had been aided off the field because of a knee injury. He'd been replaced by a backup.
The contest, only three series old, went on without him. So did the New England Patriots' next 15 games. Brady watched them on television from his home.
"The game doesn't stop for anybody. It just doesn't," Brady said in a recent interview with ESPN. "You get hurt, the doctors come out, they wheel you off the field and the ref blows the whistle for play and the game continues. That's exactly what should happen.
"This game is bigger than any player that's ever played this game. You realize how fortunate you are to be a part of it when you can't participate."
On Monday night, for the first time since Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard crashed into his left knee on opening day 2008, Brady will play a game that counts. The Patriots will host the Buffalo Bills in Gillette Stadium on the season premiere of "Monday Night Football."
The game will feature plenty of storylines and pageantry. Terrell Owens will make his Bills debut. The teams will wear throwback uniforms to mark the AFL's 50th anniversary. The Patriots will introduce their all-time team at halftime.
Brady has been waiting a long time for this. The last time he finished a game was 20 months ago in Super Bowl XLII, where the New York Giants stunningly denied the Patriots their perfect season.
Brady acknowledged this week that the loss still haunts him, but he doesn't need a reminder to prevent him from overlooking the long regular season ahead.
When you go from observant passer to passive observer -- leg propped on a pillow while you watch your teammates move on without you on TV -- a realization sets in.
"You've got to earn it every week," Brady said. "If you think you're entitled to anything in this job, go sit out a year and tell me about the entitlement.
"There's nothing guaranteed, and you've got to go out there and earn the respect of your coaches and your teammates so that you have the right and the privilege to go out and lead them."
One of the greatest quarterbacks of his generation is motivated, but he has been trying to downplay his eagerness for Monday night to arrive.
Unlike last summer, when a foot injury kept him from taking a preseason snap, Brady played in all four exhibitions to help him cope with the mental aspect of his recovery. He had two knee ligaments reattached and needed to feel some heat, take a hit, make some throws.
Brady called the preseason work "critical" to his return.
"It's invaluable for a quarterback," Brady said. "We don't get hit in practice, and the important part is you've got to get used to guys being around you so you can understand how long you can hold onto the ball. ... You want to hold it as long as you can to allow your receivers time to get open to be able to make the throw.
"You get a feel for that in the preseason games and the movement in the pocket that you need. That's been really important."
He suggests he has gotten past any jitters pertaining to the knee, but that doesn't mean Patriots fans are equally secure with their team's tenuous quarterback situation.
Last year's Patriots went 11-5 with Matt Cassel at quarterback, losing the AFC East title to the Miami Dolphins on a tiebreaker and becoming the first team in 23 years to win 11 games and not make the playoffs. It's safe to assume a healthy Brady would have made enough of a difference to edge the Patriots into the postseason.
If Brady goes down again this year, the Patriots' season will crumble with him. Cassel now plays for the Chiefs, and the Patriots have chosen to keep only two quarterbacks on their active roster.
Brady's backup is undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer. Isaiah Stanback, a former Dallas Cowboys receiver who hasn't played quarterback since he left the University of Washington two years ago, is on the practice squad.
|Geoff Burke/US Presswire|
|The Patriots had a brief scare this preseason when Albert Haynesworth took down Tom Brady, who fell awkwardly on his shoulder.|
The delicate nature of Brady's condition was driven home Aug. 28, when he was driven into the ground by Washington Redskins mammoth Albert Haynesworth. Brady fell awkwardly on his throwing shoulder. Patriots fans held their breath.
Any uneasiness, however, is overridden by the anticipation of an encore performance Brady didn't have the chance to deliver last year. Brady bombed the NFL record book in 2007 and guided the Patriots within one drive of a 19-0 season.
Further capturing the imagination of fans and fantasy owners is the fact 2007 was Randy Moss' and Wes Welker's first year in New England's offense.
In May, both Moss and Welker expressed their excitement over grand possibilities now that they've mastered the Patriots playbook and Brady's back.
"The sky's the limit for this offense," Moss told ESPN.com. "I think that we could be a little bit better than two years ago.
"I'm very excited for us as an offense. I'm excited for us as a team. There's a lot of good things about Tom Brady coming back that excites the people, the fans, the coaches and the players around here.
"All we can hope is to come out with smoking guns."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick put the kibosh on any more such braggadocio. Moss hasn't granted an interview since then. Follow-up questions about matching 2007's gaudy statistics have been answered diplomatically.
"We were really blessed a couple years ago to have the year we did," Brady said on Wednesday's conference call. "But it's an entirely new year with different challenges, different teams we're facing, different schemes. We're running different plays. We have different players. A lot of things had to come together two years ago."
A few ticks after 7 p.m. Monday, the Patriots' most important component will be back in the huddle and surrounded by his teammates again.
All those anxieties and hopes will pulsate under the gloaming at Gillette Stadium.
Then referee Scott Green will blow his whistle to start the play clock.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
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
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
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.
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.