Replacement refs problematic in Week 3

September 24, 2012, 4:43 PM

The replacement referees continue to steal headlines around the National Football League.

One of the wildest NFL Sundays in recent memory was once again overshadowed by another week of blunders by the replacement officials, who appeared over their heads for the third consecutive week.

The pace of play remains a major concern as several games went over the allocated three-hour period in Week 3. Games are going longer this season than ever before, largely due to a high number of delays coming from replacement officials.

On that note, here are the top blunders of the week from the replacement officials in Week 3.

Harbaugh gets two free challenges

Generally you need to have a timeout to challenge a play but that didn’t apply to Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers on Sunday.

With 3:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, referee Ken Roan allowed San Francisco to challenge a play when they were not eligible for one, as they were out of timeouts.
The 49ers ended up winning the challenge, which led to a change of a possession after San Francisco recovered a Toby Gerhart fumble.

Later on the same drive, Alex Smith was intercepted by Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson but Harbaugh threw the challenge flag (somehow again with no timeouts) to challenge a potential fumble. The play was upheld at least.

These calls could have affected the final result of the game but the NFL was lucky the Vikings were able to close out the victory, even with two bogus challenges.

Titans get free 12 yards on final drive

During Tennessee’s wild overtime win over Detroit, they were handed a strange gift from the referees.

The Titans had the ball on their own 44-yard line during their scoring drive. On a pass to tight end Craig Stevens, the Lions received an unnecessary roughness penalty after a hit from linebacker Stephen Tulloch.

As Peter King said in today’s Monday Morning quarterback on SI.com:

“The officials had to mark off the 15-yard penalty. Presumably, replay official Earnie Frantz or the officiating supervisor told the referee, Gerald Wright, to mark the 15-yard penalty from the Tennessee 44. But Wright marked it from the Detroit 44, giving the Titans a first down at the Detroit 29. If the crew had marked it from the Titans 44, the first down would have been from the Detroit 41. As it was, Tennessee, from the 29, was already in field-goal range. It’s beyond inexcusable.”

Somewhere Ed Hoculi has to be smiling.

Belichick, Shanahan facing fines?

Frustration is boiling over with the overwhelmed officials and there were two clear examples on Sunday.

On the final play in New England’s loss to Baltimore, Justin Tucker’s game-winning kick originally looked like a miss so Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wanted a review after the play.

He ran after the group of officials and grabbed at one of them after they did not give him an answer.

The league will review the play and Belichick could be facing a major fine for the incident.

Belichick wasn’t the only coach to go after the refs, as Washington Redskins offensive co-ordinator Kyle Shanahan could be facing discipline after he ran after the refs in the tunnel and berated the group of officials following the game.

Shanahan was furious after the Redskins were penalized 20 yards instead of 15 for unsportsmanlike conduct. Also, there were several other errors including an incorrect spotting of the ball and an incorrect ruling of the 10-second run-off at the end of their loss to the Bengals.

You can see the incident here.

ESPN 980 reported that Shanahan said: “You have no (expletive) balls, you are a (expletiving, expletive.)”

The replacement refs are losing control of the game and the NFL must put aside their differences with its officials and solve this problem before this goes too far.

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