Pereira explains crazy Week 5 finishes

Pereira explains crazy Week 5 finishes

Published Oct. 13, 2010 1:00 a.m. ET

Now that Week 5 is over, I can’t help but think back to some of the crazy endings that determined winners and losers. You have to admit, that close games that are decided in the last two minutes are far more exciting than blowouts.

I, on the other hand, have to admit that in my old role as the NFL’s vice president of officiating I loved the blowouts since there would be less chance of controversy. Now that I am a fan and an analyst, I love the wild finishes that, in most cases, include some big calls.

Let’s take a look at a few.

• Let’s start with the Chargers at Raiders game. This was a game that saw the Raiders block two punts, returning one for a touchdown and recovering the other for a safety.

The Chargers had lost two fumbles prior to the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter. There had been two replay challenges and one replay review before the game got down to the last minute. Nevertheless, the game boiled down to a big call with 1:10 remaining. The Chargers faced a second-and-20 at the Raiders 33 and appeared to be in position to kick a field goal and win the game. They were behind by one.

Philip Rivers was hit while attempting to throw a pass. It was ruled a fumble and the Raiders returned it for a touchdown. It looked like a pass in real time but when the play was reviewed it was very close.

Remember: The rule is that the hand must be moving forward with total control of the ball. The arm has nothing to do with it. The elbow always starts forward first but that does not start the pass. Movement of the hand with control of the ball does. To me, one angle made it look like a pass and another made it look like a fumble. It was much closer than I originally thought when I saw it in real time.


I agree with the referee not changing the call. It was not indisputable. The NFL has done a very good job of not overturning calls unless there is absolute certainty and I applaud that.

• How about the sequence in the fourth quarter of the Dallas-Tennessee game? Tony Romo threw a touchdown pass to Jason Witten to pull the Cowboys within one point. Witten handed the ball to offensive lineman Marc Colombo and Colombo spiked the ball. That is not a foul and that isn’t what was called.

Colombo and Witten then leaped and chest, bumped causing Colombo to fall backward to the ground. That is what was called which was going to the ground to demonstrate. The call is correct to the letter of the law but I have always felt that it only should be a foul if a player intentionally goes to the ground.

It would seem to me that common sense could have entered into this decision. I am sure it will be discussed. The 15 yards are penalized on the kickoff, which meant the Cowboys had to kick off from the 15 yard line. The Titans returned the kick all the way to the 11-yard line and the Cowboys were called for a face-mask penalty, which moved the ball to the 5 1/2 yard line. Tennessee scored and that was the difference in the game. Huge call and it had a big impact.

Think the NFL rules are confusing? How about the play near the end of the Cardinals-Saints game?

• Arizona had the ball, third-and-8 on the Saints 33. A swing pass was ruled a catch and fumble and the ball rolled toward the side at the 30-yard line. A New Orleans player batted the ball backward into the field of play where Larry Fitzgerald recovered the ball at the 25 before he slid out of bounds.

The linesman gave a confusing signal but ruled that the ball was out of bounds at the 30-yard line. The officials put the ball down and wound the clock, which was correct. The clock starts as soon as the ball is put down at the hash mark anytime a fumble or backward pass goes out of bounds.

Well, the ball didn’t go out of bounds as the linesman ruled. This is now reviewable since the rule covering this changed in 2009.

I made the statement in the FOX Studio Command Center that the replay assistant should stop play and review this as Fitzgerald recovered at the 25 yard line and that might have made a difference in punting or attempting a field goal, or maybe at fourth-and-1 at the 25, the Cards might have gone for it.

Not so fast , said one of my game monitors, Paul Pelz.

Pelz told me that even they did review it, Fitzgerald wouldn’t get the ball since it was a fumble inside of two minutes, which means to the ball goes back to the spot of the fumble. The spot of the fumble was the same spot where the ball was ruled out of bounds.

I was later reminded that this play is only reviewable if the defense recovers. If the offense recovers their own loose ball, it is not reviewable. A little too complicated, I think.

And don’t forget the end of the Cincinnati-Tampa Bay game. You can go online to my Sunday column to see my explanation. That was a huge call that led to the game winning field goal.

Oh well, just another week. Can’t wait for Week 6.