Officiating in championship game reviewed

The Vikings didn't like some of the calls and non-calls by officials in the NFC Championship Game, and now the NFL's VP of Officiating agrees with some of concerns.

During Wednesday's airing of the Total Access program on NFL Network, NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira said that the third quarter interception of Brett Favre should have been eliminated and a penalty flag thrown on the high-low hit on Favre in which Saints defensive end Bobby McCray came in below Favre's knee and injured his ankle.

Pereira was asked about a pair of low hits in the respective championship games Sunday – one on Favre and one on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez by Colts safety Melvin Bullitt. Pereira was quite succinct on the matter, simply saying, "They're missed calls."

In his post-game press conference Sunday night, Favre brought up the "Brady Rule," which was implemented to provide more protection for quarterbacks taking hits at or below the knees. But he shrugged off the comment almost immediately, implying that, while he thought a penalty should be called, it wasn't and there wasn't much that could be done about it at that time.

Pereira affirmed Favre's statement on NFL Network, saying, "It is the kind of hit that we want called (for a penalty) because, clearly, we're trying to protect the knees (of quarterbacks)."

It will be interesting to see if the NFL fine police slap McCray with a monetary penalty. Earlier in the game, after handing the ball off to Percy Harvin and taking a couple of clear steps without the ball, Favre was flattened by McCray. A personal foul was called on the play, but it wasn't immediately ruled as a penalty against McCray.

Pereira also referenced a couple of plays that were controversial in the minds of Vikings fans – one being a potential non-catch by Robert Meachem in the overtime drive and a fourth-and-1 dive by running back Pierre Thomas in the same drive. In the Meachem play, it appeared on replay as if the ball hit the ground and was redirected back up into his arms, which, by rule, is typically viewed as an incompletion. On the Thomas run, while it clear that he crossed the first-down line with his leap, linebacker Chad Greenway hit the ball with his helmet in mid-air and pushed it backward. Thomas was able to maintain possession of the ball, but it was thought that the ball could have been re-spotted since he lost and regained possession. Pereira said that the replay application on both plays was correct, since the officials claimed there wasn't enough visual evidence to support overturning the calls on the field.

There was no discussion of a third play on the overtime drive that many found the most egregious – a pass interference call on Ben Leber against Saints tight end David Thomas on a pass that was five yards overthrown and technically uncatchable. That penalty put the Saints down to the Vikings 29-yard line, in field goal range where kicker Garrett Hartley eventually scored the game-winning field goal.

THURSDAY NOTES

  • Antoine Winfield is scheduled to see a foot specialist in North Carolina sometime in the next couple of weeks to determine if any offseason surgery may be required on his ailing right foot. Although Brad Childress denied that Winfield re-injured or aggravated his foot injury Sunday against the Saints, there are reports that he had an MRI performed on the foot Tuesday.

  • The Cardinals have scheduled a press conference for Friday, at which time veteran QB Kurt Warner is expected to announce his retirement. If Favre should happen to retire, it would be ironic that both veteran Super Bowl champs and league MVPs would have played the final game of their careers at the Superdome against the Saints in consecutive weeks.

  • Vikings QB coach Kevin Rogers is scheduled to meet with Bears officials today about their opening at offensive coordinator.

  • For those wondering why Justin Smith of the 49ers was selected to the NFC roster for the Pro Bowl when Pat Williams was the first alternate, the answer simple. When Kevin Williams bowed out of the Pro Bowl citing a knee injury, Pat was offered the chance play, but turned it down.

  • The rumors about Favre have already begun, including one from John Clayton of ESPN claiming that, if Favre walks away, the Vikings would likely be willing to trade their second-round pick (No. 62 overall) to the Eagles for Donovan McNabb. He added that the Eagles would likely want the Vikings' first-round pick, which, given McNabb's age and injury history, would be unlikely.


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