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NFL Replacement Referees’ Blunders Create More Drama

It was another bad week for the NFL replacement referees, who showed they, as a whole, still have trouble grasping or understanding NFL rules, gaining control of the game or capturing the respect of players and coaches. The result: Louder cries for a labor agreement.

It was uncertain whether progress was made in an attempt to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, or when further negotiations would take place.

Week 3 ended with a bang — Patriots coach Bill Belichick grabbing the arm of an official following a close winning field goal by the Ravens as time expired that he wanted replayed. Problem was, the kick was good and field goals that go over the goal posts are not reviewable. What is reviewable is Belichick’s grabbing of a referee. The NFL warned teams last week that it won’t tolerate confrontational behavior toward the new officials.

In his postgame news conference, Belichick said he does not believe he will be fined. Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes took to Twitter to express his anger with the replacement refs.

“Can someone please tell these f—— zebras foot locker called and they’re needed Back at work !!!! #BreakingPoint,” Spikes tweeted.

Replacement officials admitted making two mistakes in Minnesota’s victory over San Francisco, while a few other games included questionable calls that could have affected the outcomes.

Referee Ken Roan said he twice granted 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh video challenges after Harbaugh called timeout in the fourth quarter. Neither challenge should have been allowed once Harbaugh asked for time.

“What I told him was, ‘Well you challenged it not knowing what the result of the play was going to be,’ ” Roan said. “So I granted him the challenge and we went and looked at it. That was wrong. I should not have.”

Both mistakes happened in the span of six plays in Minnesota’s 24-13 upset of the 49ers.

“My interpretation of it was that he could do that based upon the time factors and not knowing it was a challengeable play to begin with when he called timeout,” Roan said. “If you don’t have a timeout to lose, you can’t make a challenge.”

In the Lions-Titans and Bengals-Redskins games, officials marched off too much yardage on penalties.

Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Craig Stevens wound up as a 27-yard penalty in Tennessee’s 44-41 overtime win. In OT, from the Titans 44, Jake Locker passed to Stevens over the middle for a 24-yard gain and Tulloch was flagged for the hit. Fourteen yards were added to the end of the play, which then was reviewed and overturned because the ball hit the ground.

However, the penalty still is enforced. Instead of 15 yards, officials marked it off from the Detroit 44 — the wrong spot.

“As soon as the play was declared incomplete it becomes a first down and it becomes 15 yards from the play before,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.

The Redskins were penalized 20 yards instead of 15 for unsportsmanlike conduct in the final seconds of their 38-31 loss.

Robert Griffin III spiked the ball to stop the clock with 7 seconds left. Then tight end Fred Davis was called for a 5-yard false start penalty.

According to Washington coach Mike Shanahan, at least one official indicated there would be a 10-second runoff, ending the game — and the Bengals, led by coach Marvin Lewis, started walking onto the field. There shouldn’t have been a runoff, though, because the clock had been stopped by the spike. The Redskins began arguing, and eventually the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called.

The officials never announced specifically who the call was against, just that the penalty would be added to the false start, a total of 20 yards. But they walked off 25 yards — the official game play-by-play said 20 yards were enforced for the unsportsmanlike conduct.

“They threw the flag at us, and there was half of the (Bengals) team on the field,” Shanahan said. “I was disappointed in that.”

And on and on it went. And will go. . . until an agreement is made.

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