Right when you thought that the replacement refs were starting to improve, as they got a nod of approval by an NFL executive yesterday evening, Marvin Lewis comes along and ruins it, sort of. During the first quarter of yesterday’s Green Bay Packers vs.Cincinnati Bengals game Bengals safety Taylor Mays lowered his shoulder on Packers wide-receiver Tom Crabtree.
Mays received a penalty for a hit on a defenseless receiver, a call that Lewis believed was incorrect, “It was shoulder-to-shoulder. It was exactly shoulder-to-shoulder. Unfortunately, the guy that made the call’s explanation was not correct. They are getting better,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, it will get closer and closer to what we need. His understanding was that the player was a defenseless receiver. He was, but you are allowed to hit a defenseless receiver shoulder-to-shoulder. There is no such thing as a defenseless player unless he is hit in the head with your head. It was a misinterpretation of the rule. I know they are working hard. The league is working hard to get this stuff corrected. They are working overtime on it actually. It’ll get better and better.”
Lewis went on to praise the replacement officials for their continued effort to improve, but the issue that he has raised is one that many people around the league are fearful of. What would happen if something like this happened in a regular season game? Ray Anderson, the NFL’s Vice President of Operations, has said that he does expect the replacement officials to begin the regular season.
Any mistake that would be made in the September 5th season opener, which pits the Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants, would be largely magnified for two reasons. The first being that the game will be televised nationally, in prime-time, on NBC, and the second being that any missed call that may turn the tide of the game will be in a game between two hated division rivals. A loss for either team could greatly affect their playoff chances.
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