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It didn't affect the outcome of the Chicago Bears' 30-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints, but an NFL spokesman acknowledged Tuesday that on Darren Sproles' touchdown catch in the fourth quarter, "there was a miscommunication between the replay booth -- which should have called for a review -- and the field" and that the score "should have been reviewed."
Consequently, the play -- in which Sproles appeared to step out of bounds at the 2-yard line on replays -- counted as a touchdown, and wasn't reviewed by officials on the field. Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira said Tuesday on the Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 that the play "was not a touchdown."
"I sat there and looked at that like everybody else like 'What the heck happened here?'" Pereira said. "Now you look at that and really even after the game I thought there has to be more than this, than just the replay assistant saying that he confirmed that Sproles wasn't out of bounds. As it turns out I'm not sure if it was a technology breakdown or just a communications breakdown."
Sproles caught what was counted as a 12-yard touchdown with 12:05 left in the fourth quarter to give the Saints' their final score of the game. Pereira said "the replay official upstairs tried to page to the referee (on the field) to say that he needed to review it."
"The referee looked at his pager and it said, 'confirmed' apparently instead of 'review,'" Pereira said. "So somewhere in this process of paging, there was a breakdown, and you'd at least like to hope that it was technology as opposed to the human element of choosing not to review that because it was not a touchdown."
The NFL spokesman didn't clarify whether the mistake was a result of human error or an equipment malfunction.
The NFL changed replay rules for the 2011 season, mandating that replay officials in the booth initiate reviews of all scoring plays. The change was made to confirm all scoring plays, which in essence would keep coaches from having to waste replay challenges on those plays.
reira would like to see changes that would allow fans to actually see the red and green lights from the referees' buzzers that come on during replay reviews and subsequent confirmations.
"I really like that because this (is) about the only thing in football -- as to when the buzzer was pushed -- it's something that you never know. Everything else you can see," Pereira said. "If there's a foul that's called, you can actually see whether it's correct. But when a buzzer is pushed is not visible. So it always raises some suspicion. I think it's a good idea, and I think the fan would enjoy seeing the red light go on automatically when a touchdown is scored, and they can wait to see the green light go on (when it's confirmed). They've already talked about that, and I would not (be) surprised to see that come into play next year. "
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.