Packers-49ers was the most entertaining of Sunday's slate of NFL games, but it featured one moment that elicited flashbacks to those dark days when the replacement referees were screwing up games left and right.
It was about midway through the second quarter when Clay Matthews decided to get all INTENSE on Colin Kaepernick's head after the 49ers quarterback had ducked out of bounds on a third-down scramble. Matthews was, predictably, flagged for unnecessary roughness. 49ers left tackle Joe Staley got in Matthews's face right after the play, and was also flagged for a personal foul. Both penalties were dead-ball penalties which should have offset each other and brought up a fourth down for the 49ers, setting up what would likely have been a field goal attempt. Except the referees only got it half right.
Referee Bill Leavy correctly called the penalties as offsetting, but screwed everything up by erasing the previous play and having the teams replay third down. The 49ers essentially got a free play, and promptly scored a touchdown instead of having to settle for a field goal.
Most remarkable was how obvious of a fuck up the referees' decision was. It took a few minutes for the broadcast booth to catch on to the mistake, but I would guess that most people watching at home recognized the blunder as soon as it happened. Common sense dictated that Kaepernick's scramble should have counted, and that it should have been fourth down for the 49ers despite the fact that there were penalties after the play. This wasn't a bang-bang play that was missed, it was a counterintuitive misunderstanding of a very simple part of the rule book. And yet, nobody in the stadium seemed to notice what had just happened. Even Packers head coach Mike McCarthy admitted after the game that he didn't catch the mistake right away:
When asked if he was aware of the mistake, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, "Yes. I mean, I'm aware of it now.
Luckily for Leavy and the NFL, the four-point swing that the extra play brought in the 49ers' favor didn't end up being the difference in the game. Although that's likely little consolation for Packers fans, who had to sit through the rest of the game after watching their team get jobbed by a blown call in a marquee early season matchup for the second time in two seasons. Watching them get eviscerated by Colin Kaepernick yet again probably didn't help things, either.