Curious calls, longer NFL games with replacement refs

Sep 12, 2012, 7:17 AM | Updated: 9:49 am
The NFL's replacement referees are getting even more scrutiny after the first weekend's games, especially the Seahawks-Cardinals opener. (AP)

The NFL’s replacement referees are getting even more scrutiny after the first weekend’s games, especially the Seattle Seahawks at Arizona.

We all did some head-scratching during that final drive when the refs gave Seattle an extra timeout.

“It was my error,” lead referee Bruce Hermansen said after the game. “We gave them the additional timeout because of the incomplete pass stopping the clock before the injury occurred. When in effect, the clock has no bearing on the play at all, whether it’s stopped or running, we should not have given them the additional timeout.”

Fortunately for Arizona, the Seahawks did not score a go-ahead touchdown, and the official’s mistake did not impact the outcome of the game. If it had, the NFL would have been under enormous pressure to settle the contract dispute with the union refs.

Green Bay’s star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, has been publicly critical of the replacement officials, saying this on Tuesday’s ESPN Milwaukee radio show:

“They are under a lot of scrutiny. The ones we had last week deserved the scrutiny. You have to understand the rules.”

Rodgers looked at game tapes and saw several mistakes that went for and against the San Francisco 49ers, including a blatant block in the back on one of the Packers’ touchdowns.

Missed calls will happen, whether it’s the regular officials or the replacements. Sometimes an offensive lineman gets away with holding, or a defensive back is called for a bogus pass interference penalty, and we just have to accept the fact that nobody is perfect and the officials make mistakes.

The Seahawks have gone out of their way to show players what to expect from the replacement refs. They’ve filmed numerous preseason games and reviewed the calls a certain crew might emphasize.

That didn’t seem to matter on Sunday when Seattle was flagged for 13 penalties. Many, like offsides and false starts, were deserved. Some, like pass interference, were questionable.

One thing is certain: the replacement refs are impacting the tempo and length of the games. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll mentioned it during his Monday press conference.

“There’s calls every week you complain about anyway, whoever is calling the game,” said Carroll. “There were a lot of calls in this [Arizona] game, and the game was very slow.”

He’s right. Replacement officials are taking extra time to make sure they’re making an accurate decision. The elongated reviews and discussions tend to take a team out of its rhythm and frustrate the fans. A few games took nearly four hours to complete.

Average NFL union official made $149,000 last season. Under terms of their contract proposal, the average pay would go up to $189,000 in 2018.

With a few more curious calls and longer football games, the league might be more willing to settle up soon.

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Curious calls, longer NFL games with replacement refs