Official Review: Breaking Down the Most Controversial Calls of NFL Week 1

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent ISeptember 10, 2012

Official Review: Breaking Down the Most Controversial Calls of NFL Week 1

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    Errors are part of human nature, and it happens in sports, period.

    Whether it's the NFL or any other sport, no referee, judge or umpire is perfect.

    Well, there's clearly been some questionable calls from pro football's replacement officials, and we're only one week into the 2012 season. On the bright side, Week 1 was definitely better than the preseason, so improvement can be expected.

    Also, we have to keep in mind that even the NFL's regular referees weren't perfect. So, a little leeway can be given to the replacements.

    Nevertheless, just like an athlete messing up his or her responsibility on a particular play, the mistakes on film garner the most attention.

    All videos courtesy of

Randall Cobb Punt Return

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    Illegal block in the back, clipping or clean block?

    And the block referred to here is not No. 59 Brad Jones of Green Bay on No. 54 Larry Grant of San Francisco. That is a clean block from the side. It's the one almost immediately after to watch for.

    No. 56 Terrell Manning of the Packers hits No. 24 Anthony Dixon of the 49ers in the back, and we can only assume this block was not seen.

    That said, this at least looks like an illegal block in the back, if not a clip. Dixon clearly fell forward, and that can only happen when hit from behind. Had he been blocked remotely from the side, then perhaps this wouldn't appear so obvious.

Roman Harper Pass Interference?

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    Roman Harper puts himself in good position to make a nice defensive play.

    He's right on the inside hip pocket of Aldrick Robinson, but gets called for pass interference on fourth down.

    As expected, the ball is then placed at the one-yard line since the foul occurred in the end zone. However, was this pass interference?

    Watching closely, Harper uses his left hand to bat the ball down, although the angle given doesn't provide a clear view of where his right arm is positioned. So, what we have to watch for is both of Robinson's arms and whether he moves backward.

    Moving backward would indicate that Harper extended his right arm and pushed Robinson, which would obviously prevent him from making a play.

    Well, not only does Robinson shoot both arms forward to try and make the catch, but he doesn't appear to move backward at all. In turn, Harper's arm is not extended, nor is it preventing either of Robinson's arms from coming forward, which suggests this wasn't pass interference.

Carlos Rogers on Greg Jennings

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    If anything, this looks more like illegal contact as opposed to pass interference on Carlos Rogers.

    Lined up in the slot, Greg Jennings runs a dig route and breaks toward the inside.

    Now, Rogers does get beat on the play, as Jennings wins the position battle by getting inside leverage after breaking his route. As the route breaks inside, we see Rogers put his right arm across Jennings before the ball is thrown.

    Once the ball is in flight, however, Rogers' arm is not restricting Jennings from getting in position.

    Plus, the flag did come in late.

    "Yes" to illegal contact, "no" to pass interference.

Seahawks Get an Extra Time Out...Sort of

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    Along the same lines as the Colorado Buffaloes getting a fifth down in 1990, the Seattle Seahawks got a fourth timeout in 2012.

    The good news is that the main referee, Bruce Hermansen, admitted the mistake.

    Per Albert Breer of NFL Network:

    Ref Bruce Hermansen on the Sea/AZ flap: "It was my error. We gave them (Seattle) the additional timeout because of the incomplete pass ..."

    — Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 10, 2012


    (ref cont) "... stopping the clock before the injury occurred. When in effect, the clock has no bearing on the play at all, ..."

    — Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 10, 2012

    And one more:

    (ref cont) "... whether it's stopped or running, we should not have given them the additional timeout."

    — Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 10, 2012

    So, we can move on from this and only hope that the season gets better. After all, it takes a lot for someone to admit this kind of mistake.

Roughing the Passer Helps 49ers on TD Drive

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    Protecting the quarterback has certainly received more emphasis in recent years.

    That was once again put on display when Clay Matthews applied pressure on Alex Smith (jump to the 42-second mark to see the play).

    Smith threw an incomplete pass on second down, but a roughing the passer call on Matthews gave San Francisco an automatic first down. Shortly thereafter, the 49ers scored a touchdown courtesy of Randy Moss, and that penalty helped keep the drive alive.

    The issue here is not so much the hit Matthews put on Smith. It was clean, as he didn't have any helmet contact or deliberately pick Smith up and slam him down.

    The question here is, when does this become roughing the passer?

    In other words: Can only one second of time pass once the ball is thrown for this to be roughing the passer, or is it less than that?

    We also have to take into account that Matthews is rushing, and it's not like he can immediately stop his momentum. If you can, try to freeze the video around the 45-second mark and you'll see Matthews beginning his leap as Smith is releasing the ball.

Steelers-Broncos 2-Minute Warning

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    During the Pittsburgh Steelers-Denver Broncos Sunday night game, the two-minute warning wasn't called at the right time.

    No, not the game-clock's time, but regarding the game's procedure.

    Since the two-minute warning occurred during a score, it isn't supposed to take effect until after the conversion (whether it's an extra point or two-point try).

    Instead, the two-minute warning took place betwixt the Broncos' touchdown and conversion try.

    Fortunately, this was not a factor in the game's outcome, and it was simply a minute error in terms of procedure.

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