National Football League
NFL is suffering with replacements
National Football League

NFL is suffering with replacements

Published Sep. 16, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

I'm officially over it.

I know it just began, but it's time for it to end and you all know what I'm talking about. I don't really care what the issues are or which side has the more legitimate argument, the NFL needs the real referees back on the field.

There were a lot of upsets in Weak 2 — yes, I spelled that correctly — from the results of games to results of the calls made on the field. NFL players are the best in the business. The real NFL referees are the best in the business, too. The two sides need to get together — now.

There are so many little things that took place Sunday that they are all starting to add up to big things.


From not penalizing a coach for challenging a play that couldn't be challenged (Washington-St. Louis) to allowing the clock to run after an incomplete pass (Cleveland-Cincinnati) to calling a chop block that wasn't a chop block (Dallas-Seattle) to calling an incomplete pass that should have been ruled intentional grounding (Oakland-Miami).

Unfortunately, this list goes on and on …

I'm not saying the replacement refs aren't trying their best, because they are. A look at the average penalties called during Week 2 won't differ much from Week 1, but much of the confusion that reigned supreme came from the replacements just not knowing the rules the way the regular officials do.

You can't expect replacements to know the intricacies of the NFL rule book in two weeks on the job. It takes years. But it doesn't take long — two weeks — to see this is not working.

Let's look at three plays in particular that kind of sum up the day:

Washington at St. Louis

Situation: St. Louis had the ball, second-and-1 at the Washington 1-yard line with 9:09 left in the second quarter. Washington led 14-3.

Rams running back Steven Jackson rushed for no gain. He fumbled on the play and it was recovered by the Redskins. St. Louis challenged the fumble ruling and the play was reversed.

This should never have happened. A coach is not allowed to challenge a play when a turnover is ruled on the field. It's an automatic 15-yard penalty. Also, depending on when the challenge flag came from St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher, the play likely shouldn't have been reviewed anyway. If Fisher threw the challenge flag before the replay official initiated the review, then a review is not allowable by rule. If the review is initiated first, before the challenge flag is thrown, it's still a 15-yard penalty, but you can review the play.

Dallas at Seattle

Situation: Seattle had the ball, second-and-6 at the Dallas 22-yard line with 6:03 left in the second quarter. Seattle led 10-7.

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for one yard. A penalty was called on Seattle's J.R. Sweezy and Max Unger for a chop block against Marcus Spears.

This was not a chop block. The play would have been a foul in college and it was called by a former college official. However, in the NFL, it is legal to chop block a defender on the back side of a run if the two offensive lineman that chop are lined up next to each other at the snap. Sweezy was the right guard and Unger is the center. That's why it was a legal block and the foul shouldn't have been called.

Cleveland at Cincinnati

Situation: Cincinnati had the ball, first-and-20 at the Bengals' 47-yard line with 3:25 left in the second quarter. Cincinnati led 17-10.

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton attempted a short pass to A.J. Green that was incomplete. The clock continued to run when it shouldn't have.

The officials are responsible for monitoring the clock. The timer, who is located in the press box, should have stopped the clock but didn't. Officials are always told to keep their eyes on the clock and to correct it when necessary. It was necessary here. Twenty-nine seconds ran off the clock with 3:25 left to go in the second quarter. Cleveland had the ball at the end of the half and who knows what might have happened if the Browns had another 29 seconds to try and kick a field goal or even score a possible touchdown.

End this now. Please.


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