Atlanta Falcons: Replacement officials have an off night

CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.CO/

Atlanta Falcons safety William Moore intercepts a Peyton Manning pass intended for tight end Jacob Tamme on Denver's opening drive during first quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Monday, Sept. 17, 2012.

The lawyer negotiating for NFL officials, who are at labor impasse with the league, should probably stay near the telephone.

The replacement officials working the Falcons game against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football had three calls overturned by the replay officials upstairs in booth in the first 30 minutes and failed to maintain order in the first half.

They made yet another case for the nation to see that league’s experiment with replacement officials is not working very well.

If it were a baseball game, Denver coach John Fox might have been tossed in the first inning. He repeatedly went after the officials on some bizarre calls.

On Monday, Mike Pereira, formerly the league’s top official and an analyst for FoxSports, called for an end to the labor situation on SiriusXM NFL radio. He stated that the replacement officials are over-matched and clearly are not used to calling some of the downfield contact in the passing game.

There was a six-minute delay late in the Falcons’ first quarter after routine fumble, recovery and pile-up than concluded with Atlanta’s Ray Edwards drawing a penalty for unnecessary roughness.

Earlier in the game, the officials ruled that Michael Turner scored on a 1-yard run. The replay official reversed that call. Turner was called back on the field and scored on the next play.

About midway through the first quarter, the officials called defensive pass interference on Denver’s Tony Carter. Fox was livid, contended that the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage and that Carter could legally hit Falcons wide receiver Roddy White. He was proven correct on a video replay.

The play was reversed.

Ryan in the books

Quarterback Matt Ryan’s 4-yard touchdown pass to White in the third quarter was the 100th of his career.

Later in the quarter, White went over 100 yards receiving for the 29th time in his career.

More penalties

The Falcons only committed just two penalties for 12 yards in the season opener against Kansas City.

Monday night, they had two penalties against Denver in the first five minutes. Defensive end John Abraham had a false start and left guard Justin Blalock was called for holding.

The Falcons had six penalties for 51 yards by halftime.

Team captains

The Falcons sent out Ryan, White, Stephen Nicholas, William Moore and Kroy Biermann as their captains.

GrudenGrinder

ESPN analyst Jon Gruden selected Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers as his “GrudenGrinder” before the game.

Gruden singles out a player that’s not a star, but grinds away at his job and helps his team.

Injury report

Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (hamstring) and right tackle Tyson Clabo (hip) started the game.

They were both limited in practice last week and were listed as questionable.

White (groin) and linebacker Robert James (knee) were on the injury report and listed as probable. James played on special teams, while White started.

Cornerback Asante Samuel suffered a neck injury, but returned to the game.

Cornerback Christopher Owens left the game with a head injury and his return was questionable.

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58 comments Add your comment

Wayne

September 18th, 2012
12:45 am

John Fox is a bully. He clearly had the officials rattled. He should be fined. He even went ballistic when he had too many men on the field.

Josh

September 18th, 2012
12:52 am

Wayne is obviously a Falcons fan. Never mind that three calls were overturned by the booth, one of which was correctly challenged by John Fox. Never mind that both sides were repeatedly called for fowls that simply did not occur. Terrible display by the replacement refs. They are way out of their element and need to be removed.

Really?

September 18th, 2012
12:56 am

Fox jumped into the on field scuffle as well so he should be fined like Mike Smith was a few years back. The only mistake the officilas made that was not corected resulted in denver getting extra yards and continuing a drive that resulted in a score so Atlanta should be the only team with resaons to complain.

jrod

September 18th, 2012
1:02 am

Wayne, officials shouldn’t get “rattled”..If you can’t take the heat, u shouldn’t be doing the job… its in training from high school though college, to the NFL on handling coaches.

Big Crimson 75

September 18th, 2012
1:13 am

As soon as the Season’s over, wherever/however it ends, Ray Edwards contract will be shredded into a million pieces.

JSS

September 18th, 2012
1:24 am

Ray ain’t going anywhere till the Jenkins and Anderson money comes off the dead money books…

JSS

September 18th, 2012
1:26 am

The NFL is stealing money… I don’t even get worked about these games because I know they’re a joke with these refs spoiling the water… Goodell is laughing at all of you…

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I usually just read but...

September 18th, 2012
7:45 am

Poorly called game. Spoiling the game. Awful. Missed calls, bad calls, heck, these guys can’t even spot the ball correctly.

Fats Johnson

September 18th, 2012
8:52 am

If Ryan and company can defeat Peyton Manning’s team,there is definite HOPE for this year.

MT

September 18th, 2012
8:53 am

Cut them some slack, even the regular officials blow calls,these guys are just stepping in,so we don’t
have do without pro football.Instant replay help sort out alot of the missed calls, a few years ago that would have not happened.

Steve

September 18th, 2012
9:27 am

With the current “first string” refs locked in a contract battle and all the “second string” refs working for the SEC, ACC Big 12 etc… where did these officals come from???

disgusted

September 18th, 2012
9:28 am

I am a Falcons season Ticket Holder and was in attendance at the game last night.

The ‘Rent a Refs’ were obviously unable to react on several questionable plays and the inexperience on the field was palpable.

There were several instances where the ‘Rent a Refs’ were conferring on plays and never announced what the outcomesof the flags on plays were.

It took 94 minutes to play 15 minutes of football in the first quarter.

On the game front………Denver, maybe you need to see if Elway would consider coming back to the game as Manning can’t cut it!!!!

David

September 18th, 2012
9:55 am

On the tip pass interference call, I don’t get that one. It looked like the pass was tipped beyond the line of scrimmage, and the defender was obviously all over the receiver way before the ball was even tipped. The replay showed that. It would seem to me the pass interference had already taken place before the pass was even tipped. They reversed it, but I still don’t completely understand it.

Falcon James

September 18th, 2012
10:07 am

The NFL really needs to get this situation under control with Refs, but I don’t believe they will. The NFL will still sell tickets and TV Time with or without legitimate Refs. Its sad that we have to depend on NFL officials standing on the sideline and up in a booth to make the calls but I don’t think it matters to the NFL how embarrassing the game is as long as they can’t affect the bottom line.

Steve

September 18th, 2012
10:14 am

MT, I agree these refs are just trying to fill in. I also agree that the normal NFL refs blow calls also, just not near this many. NFL is rightfully paying these guys less than the regulars.
Is the NFL (or the owners) charging fans less for the tickets though? NFL is putting on a B grade show but still wants to charge normal ticket prices.

Big Daddy Salmon

September 18th, 2012
10:16 am

These idiots are not just “stepping in”…they are scabs and are not qualified to do the job. If the players unions had any balls, they would walk out in support of the officials union. F–k manangment.

hind tit

September 18th, 2012
10:30 am

Would you walk out and lose a million a game. NO

Falcon James

September 18th, 2012
10:35 am

Did anybody notice the Saint trying infiltrate one they fans to be a Ref. They going to cheat anyway they can, but at least this time somebody was on the ball and called them on the carpet before he had a chance to affect a game. The Saint still OhFur!

David

September 18th, 2012
10:35 am

The ref’s we beyond terrible. The Broncos and the ref’s gift-wrapped that game and handed it to the Falcons

David

September 18th, 2012
10:37 am

Jimmy Crack

September 18th, 2012
10:42 am

The problem with these replacement is that they bend too easily with the wind, as in throwing delayed flags after listening to players, coaches or even crowd noise immediately following a play. It seemed to give advantage to the team whose sideline is closest to the play, as was the case last night. I wouldn’t be surprised if OCs directed long pass plays (and QB scrambles) toward the side of the field nearest their own sidelines in future games in order to get a favorable call on a late hit or pass interference.

CHARLES WESTBROOKS

September 18th, 2012
10:46 am

To Hell withthr ref’s unio and all uniobs at that.That’s one reason the USA is in bad sape as it is.

CHARLES WESTBROOKS

September 18th, 2012
10:48 am

Oh well,I should have used spell check,sorry.

Good Grief

September 18th, 2012
10:55 am

D-Led – You left out the part about Peyton throwing an incomplete pass, but Atlanta being called for defensive holding on its own 43-yard-line. The call was correct, and a 5-yard penalty should’ve been marked off, but the refs placed the ball, not at the 38, but at the 32. In college, defensive holding is a 10-yard penalty, but apparently now, in the NFL, it is an 11-yard penalty.

And also, how was John Fox able to just stand on the field the way he did? And when the refs finally did flag him for unsportsmanlike conduct, another penalty was called and the UC call on Fox was forgotten. Very sloppy game that will, at least until Thursday, be held up as the poster-child for getting the regular referees back in action.

Chuck Clausen

September 18th, 2012
11:09 am

Replacement officials are get better each week, after the strike the NFL should replace the the lowest grading 20% of the regular officials with the top grading replacement officials – I was coaching in the NFL when we had to use replacement officials in the 1980’s some of them are excellent. Coached 5 seasons in Big 10 excellent officiating.

[...] Replacement officials have an off night in Atlanta (AJC.com). [...]

vanomania

September 18th, 2012
11:15 am

I don’t fault necessarily fault the referee for calling Turner’s first touchdown and then letting it go to replay. The NFL automatically reviews all scoring plays. If a player scores but is ruled on the field that he didn’t, then a coach would have to challenge the call before it gets reviewed. In that case, it was safer to say that he scored and then review it.

Give it a rest...

September 18th, 2012
11:18 am

…the refs are fine – they are part of the game and do wha tthey do, they are just being more scrutinized this year since they are not the regular refs…the regular guys blow many calls, too. I fno one used the term “replacement” refs then no one would know the difference – and it really hurts to have guys like the Fox former ref and the guy they had last night in the booth with the talking heads making snide comments about these guys…

the old refs weren't any great shakes, either

September 18th, 2012
11:27 am

If I remember, the old officials were nothing to write home about, either, plenty of incompetence. The conflict is not about money, it is actually about the officials being asked by the nfl to be more dedicated to officiating by being available during the week for training -it’s the ref union that wants less commitment to training because they all have other jobs. So let these new guys get adjusted and it will be just fine -we are way overstating how good the old officials of the ref’s union were and would be.

LydiasDad

September 18th, 2012
11:28 am

The officials weren’t that bad. The original refs miss calls too. I quickly grew tired of hearing the pro-union NFL announcers constantly bash the referees. It was unprofessional and unnecessary. At least these referees showed up for work.

LydiasDad

September 18th, 2012
11:31 am

Josh, fowls? I didn’t see any birds out there, except the Falcons.

Grape Nuts are neither grapes or nuts

September 18th, 2012
11:35 am

I must admit the calls went against Denver.
A lot of others were missed.
Several were called after the players had to point out to the officials an infraction had occurred.

Me Goodell, it’s time to end this crap.

Grape Nuts are neither grapes or nuts

September 18th, 2012
11:36 am

Look……They lost control of the game. No way should it had taken that long to play the first half.

mountain_jim

September 18th, 2012
11:36 am

These refs are not fine – I can’t believe anyone who watched this game could believe that unless he is one of the scab refs.

The only reason they are even getting by is the hand-holding and correcting they are getting from off the field supervisors – and the delays while they wait for Daddy to tell them what to say are interminable to sit through and hurt the momentum of the offenses.

Joe 12-Pack

September 18th, 2012
11:48 am

The delays were excruciating – especially when your team is running a hurry-up offense.

I am thinking the striking officials popped a few bottles of champagne last night.

bucket

September 18th, 2012
12:04 pm

I was at the game and I thought the refs lost control of the game. However, you can’t ignore the impact that John Fox had on the situation. Alot of the questionable plays took place on the Denver sideline and Fox was almost out to the numbers several times screaming at the refs. The situation was confusing enough w/o Fox intervening and “bullying” the officials. The league office had warned the coaches to stop bullying the refs and Fox should be fined for his behavior. If you read Fox’s lips when he was on the field one time he says, “Throw the flag Bozo.” The refs were vindicated on the one play where illegal participation was called and Fox was screaming there were only 11 on the field. Also, as one poster stated, the defensive back had his hands on Roddy before the ball was tipped, which should have constituted defensive holding instead of pass interference, which is what I was calling to begin with. As I said the refs lost control, but there are blown calls in every baseball, basketball, and football game every week at every level of competition. Regardless of bad calls you have to expect coaches to conduct themselves with some decorum or be penalized or ejected for their behavior. Fox should have been angry with his own team for turning the ball over 4 times, the refs had nothing to do with that.

Downtown

September 18th, 2012
12:08 pm

That black ref on Fox’s sideline had no idea what he was doing.

Sanjeev

September 18th, 2012
12:11 pm

It’s laughable that you think the real refs wouldn’t also miss those calls and have them overturned by instant replay. You act like this is the first time in history 3 calls were overturned.

Blue

September 18th, 2012
12:14 pm

Josh; what the heck is a “fowl” in football? Is that a foul when it is called on a Falcon, because a falcon is a bird? A little play on words? Well played. :)

bucket

September 18th, 2012
12:19 pm

@ Sanjeev – great point. Complaining about officiating is a sport all to itself! There are constant controversies about NFL refs all the time – replacements and the regulars.

Sanjeev

September 18th, 2012
12:21 pm

@Steve – these are DIII refs.

So in order to make you realize how poor these guys are:
1. NFL
2. NCAA BCS
3. NCAA FCS
4. NCAA DII
5. NCAA DIII

Dr. Warren

September 18th, 2012
12:22 pm

I don’t care what Gruden says. He hasn’t watched Jacquizz do pretty much nothing over the past season and two games.

Mike S.

September 18th, 2012
12:31 pm

Ive seen the real NFL refs blow similar calls. I think people are using it as an excuse. Even on the defensive holding mark off…the Falcons didnt notice it which they should have. ESPN didnt notice it until a stat man pointed it out to Gruden and Tirico later in the game. The only thing I would say is they need to come out week 3 and start flagging/tossing people for fighting. They clearly arent respected by the players, and need to get that under control.

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Gwinnett Fred

September 18th, 2012
12:58 pm

Regarding the refs: To be honest, I think the Falcons got away with more uncalled infractions than the Broncis did.

Regarding the game: A+ effort guys. An exciting game. Any fool knew that the Broncos would make a push and they did, but we hung in there and any “fan” that want’s to complain about ALMOST blowing the lead needs to find something else to do with their time!