"I guess I might end up being in a little bit of trouble with the league myself today because I would've reversed it to an interception," locked-out referee Walt Anderson told WHB radio in Kansas City, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "I just feel like that the defensive player (M.D. Jennings) established control, certainly a greater degree of control than the receiver, both in the air and going to the ground. Just the fact that a receiver ends up having a hand on the ball does not necessarily constitute control. I felt like, watching it live, it was an interception. And watching all the replays, I would've come to the same conclusion had I been making the decision."
Anderson and former referees Jim Tunney and Red Cashion took issue with the communication. For weeks, the replacement crews had been criticized for their constant huddling, which led to frequent delays in games and prevented offenses from getting into rhythms. However, on a game-deciding play, the side judge walked over, took one look at Jennings and Tate battling for the ball, and signaled touchdown.
"Experienced officials will talk to each other – 'I have this; what do you have?' — and agree on something, or disagree," Tunney told 95.7 The Game in San Francisco via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "And then if they disagree, the referee comes in and says, ‘OK, what do you have? What do you have?' I've done that dozens of times. And then you make the decision based upon the information that you received. … They didn't communicate very well, and the best thing that could have happened is neither official giving a signal at all."
Cashion said he had a bigger problem with how the call was handled than the call itself.
"I understand that the league has stated that they have confirmed the call," Cashion told 98.5 The Hub in Boston, also via SportsRadioInterviews.com. "I'm looking at it from one angle and that is the angle the TV presented. They have many angles of TV, plus all of NFL Films and I acknowledge that it's possible that they saw something in one of those shots that I didn't see and on the basis of that, they want to stick with the call and that's entirely possible. And quite frankly, quite often when you get all the multiple angles that TV furnishes along with the coaches' tapes and NFL Films, you do find something that you didn't see even in high-definition TV. But that doesn't explain why, when two officials disagree, that the referee didn't go and talk to the two officials and try to decide which call to go with."
The referees said the major issue is the replacements' lack of experience and skill. The NFL apparently agreed with that assessment by reaching an eight-year deal with the "real" officials on Wednesday evening.
"The problem that you have is you have a bunch of people working these games that is beyond them," Cashion said. "Let me give you a parallel: If (Tom) Brady went down and they announced the afternoon of a Thursday night game that they brought in a replacement from a school you never heard of and you would assume that he could throw the ball but what would be your expectations about what kind of game he would have if you were playing Pittsburgh that night? The guys have not had time to learn the rules, they have never seen the skill of these players and they don't know how the thing works, including the rule having to do with the simultaneous catch."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.