Thursday, December 12, 2002

NFL: Refs blew nine calls in one game

League cites poor officiating in Vikings-Packers game

The Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS - The NFL has acknowledged its officiating crew made at least nine mistakes during Sunday's Green Bay-Minnesota game, including a key pass interference call, two newspapers reported Wednesday.

The mistakes were documented in a confidential memorandum, the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press said, citing unidentified sources.

The Vikings (3-10) lost the game 26-22 in Green Bay. Eight of the affected plays occurred in the fourth quarter, when the Packers (10-3) made up a nine-point deficit with two touchdowns. An interference call negated a Vikings' interception on the Packers' game-winning drive.

Both papers reported the league's correspondence with the Vikings.

"Conversations between the NFL officiating department and teams are confidential," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said. "We do not comment on them."

Vikings coach Mike Tice declined comment. Team officials are prohibited from discussing confidential communication with the league.

On Monday, the Vikings sent in 12 officials' calls the team disagreed with. In a response, league supervisors wrote that Vikings safety Corey Chavous should not have been called for pass interference against Donald Driver on a third-down pass that safety Jack Brewer intercepted.

"It doesn't matter what they say after the fact," Chavous said. "We lost the game."

Under the NFL's instant replay policy, pass interference penalties are not subject to review. Tony Fisher scored the go-ahead touchdown for Green Bay four plays later.

NFL teams routinely fill out such forms on the day after games, seeking clarification or explanations for calls, and it is not unusual for mistakes to be acknowledged affecting both teams.

Among other mistakes detailed in the document, league supervisors wrote that Packers receiver Robert Ferguson should have been ruled out of bounds at the 1-yard line rather than given a 40-yard touchdown reception with 10:48 left in the fourth quarter. The Vikings did not challenge the call via instant replay.

The NFL also wrote that Packers safety Antuan Edwards should have received an unnecessary roughness penalty for hitting Vikings receiver Chris Walsh, who had taken a knee to stop the next-to-last play of the game, and that Packers linebacker Nate Wayne also should have been penalized for blocking receiver Randy Moss in the back on the final play of the game.

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