Despite management-friendly scribes swearing to the contrary, the NFL's replacement officials made some enormous errors yesterday—some of which affected the outcome of games and at least one that directly led to a starting quarterback being knocked out of the game. That's not to mention losing track of time outs, which we covered last night. In general, most of the mistakes were of the purely-boneheaded (calling blocks in the back on punt teams, for example) variety, and there were far more than we could illustrate here. We'll try to do this every week, with your help; if you see a replacement referee blunder, tweet at us or use the #scabwatch hashtag.
Officials mistook an incomplete pass for a fumble—a ruling reversed by the replay booth—which meant that they didn't blow the play dead. On the runback, which should never have happened, Titans quarterback Jake Locker was hit and knocked out of the game with an injured shoulder..
Before Locker got knocked out of the game, he and the Tennessee offense had their opening drive killed when Jerry Frump's crew missed clear defensive pass interference in the end zone.
Chris Kluwe stood up for the replacement referees (headed up by Robert Dalton) at his game, but there were two big misses. Here's Jared Allen timing his jump perfectly yet being penalized for it.
This one's a bit worse, as it set up the Jags' eventual tying touchdown. Watch No. 84 at the bottom of the screen, as he's flagged for an illegal block below the waist despite clearly hitting the Jags player legally.
Both teams took equal punishment from referee Kent Roan and his crew. Here's Roan penalizing the wrong player for being offside, an extremely simple penalty but a mistake that wasn't corrected (thus being a permanent, and unfair, mark against Winn's record).
More seriously, though, the Browns missed out at what should have been another opportunity to score a touchdown—one that would have given them a victory—when an Eagles player jumped offside during a Phil Dawson field goal attempt without drawing a flag.
This is the worst blunder, though. After a Michael Vick fumble on third and short—with the Eagles driving in an attempt to score a game-winning TD—Browns coach Pat Shurmur tried to challenge the play's result. But Vick recovered his own fumble, and you can only challenge the recovery of a fumble in the end zone. It took Roan's crew nearly six minutes to figure that out.
Jay Cutler was forced to call time out because referee Wayne Elliot forgot to reset the play clock after a penalty.
Andrew Luck, believing he had a free play due to a Chicago player obviously jumping offside, threw deep and was intercepted. The flag never came.
Bears cornerback Tim Jennings is rewarded for a fantastic and legal defensive play by being called for pass interference.
Referee David Scott's crew bails out Robert Griffin III on a fourth-down play with a phantom pass-interference call in the end zone. The zebras' enthusiasm for throwing flags had a great deal to do with Griffin's phenomenal first-game numbers.
Here's one of the most glaring mistakes we recorded yesterday. The Redskins started this drive on the 20 after a touchback, meaning the first-down marker was exactly at the 30. On third down, with the ball spotted at the 24, Griffin threw an incomplete pass. The Saints committed a five-yard penalty on the ensuing punt. Somehow, 24 plus 5 got Washington the first down.
Just one gripe about this game, though it's a big one. Julio Jones made a touchdown catch that should have been brought back for pass interference, but the play was missed by Mike Shepherd's crew.
There is an ineligible interior lineman downfield two yards from the line of scrimmage at the time the pass is thrown. (Admittedly, it's not his fault, but rules are rules.) This touchdown won the game for the Lions, who have Donovan Briggans's crew to thank for the victory.
Oh holy hell, where do we start? Referee David White's crew was horrendous, and we couldn't possibly highlight all their mistakes. Our favorite, though, is this punt in which the 49ers are charged with a block in the back despite being the punting team. Apparently Green Bay rushed the kick backward.
Unsportsmanlike conduct was called on the Niners on this play for "removing the helmet," even though it was Aaron Rodgers's foot that did the removing.
Another good defensive play flagged for pass interference.
There were, by our count, at least four false starts by the 49ers that escaped referee punishment in this game. Here's one of them.
Last night's finale capped off an evening of terrible officiating, as referee Gerald Wright's crew proved inept and confused throughout the evening. Here's the crew running away from the ball, which is snapped before the umpire reaches his position (which is supposed to be a penalty on the offense) and while a Steelers player is still trying to get off the field (which is supposed to be a penalty on the defense).
The clock never stopped, and was never fixed, after a challenge flag was tossed. Last night's SNF game was only 59 minutes long, because a minute disappeared into the ether.
The crew also lost track of the two-minute warning. When a touchdown happens at the two-minute mark, the officials are supposed to wait until after the conversion before calling the warning. Instead, they sent the game to timeout right after the touchdown, giving the Broncos more time to set up their two-point conversion play—and costing the Steelers the timeout they could have used to plan their two-minute drill.
Again, this is by no means a comprehensive list. The regular refs make plenty of mistakes, but they generally don't misplace the two-minute warning or award nine-yard first downs. If the NFL wants to keep arguing that the scabs don't make a difference, it needs to ignore a lot of video evidence.