FanDuel - WFBC

September 14, 2008

Questionable Call: Near the end of the Broncos-Chargers game today, there was a very curious call on the fumble/incompletion by Jay Cutler near the end of the game. The play was clearly a fumble by every replay, but because referee Ed Hochuli had blown the play dead, the ball returned to the Broncos at the spot of the fumble instead of going to the Chargers by way of recovering the fumble. The Broncoes went on to score a touchdown, a 2-point conversion, and win the game 39-38.

This game was quite the watch. Not only was there the call at the end on the Cutler fumble, there was a challenge earlier in the game in which the instant replay booth did not function correctly, and thereby the referees had to stand by the call on the field, which was incorrect.

Also, Mike Shanahan's decision to go for the 2-point conversion was one of questionable strategy that worked out, but could have been disastrous.

Oh, so much to discuss. Thoughts on the refereeing, Shanahan's call, Brendan Marshall's 18 catches, and anything else I forgot to summarize? I greatly enjoyed this game, and I was curious what the rest of you thought about it.

posted by boredom_08 to football at 09:39 PM - 22 comments

Great game. Horrible call, the official was out of position, behind Cutler, so he blew the play dead. On the replay you can clearly see him signaling an incomplete pass, so he had blown the play dead.

Hard way to lose a game for San Diego. This makes two weeks in a row that they suffer heartbreaking defeats.

Shanahan's decision to go for two was remarkable. Obviously, it worked so he's a genius. Just as obvious is the fact that he would have been the goat of the week had it failed. Gutsy call, especially at home. Guess he didn't want to take his chances in overtime.

Meanwhile, my Vikings stunk up the dome. Hard to compete in the NFL without a QB. Defense held Indy just fine, never going to win kicking field goals.

posted by dviking at 10:04 PM on September 14

As a H.S. and College official I was aghast at that when I saw him signal incomplete. The first rule of officiating is to see the whole play and then rule properly, you can always go back and try to correct your mistake except in this case he blew the whistle a very sophmoric move to not see the ball. If his hand had gone up with the ball in it then it's a different story, but to blow your whistle when you see an empty hand go up ...... well let's just say he needs to spend more time working on his field positioning and less time in the gym. Oh and nice move Invesco field not not have the replay working in the 1st Q as well also resulting in a TD for Denver. So that makes the score SD38 Denver and officiating crew 39 gotta love it!

posted by jknemo at 10:31 PM on September 14

Broncos fan here. I'm glad of the final score, but that was a terrible call. No doubt the Chargers should've won.

Re: the two-point conversion - I think Shanahan had no faith in the defense today (for good reason) and didn't want to risk a coin flip. The Chargers were moving the ball at will, but so were the Bronco save two three & outs in the 3rd quarter. Also they'd been perfect in red zone touchdowns until Cutler's interception, so he must've had a lot of confidence they would punch it in.

If it failed he would've caught some heat, but I suspect a lot of Broncos fans feel as I do that the final touchdown was a gift. So he was playing with house money anyway.

posted by drumdance at 11:09 PM on September 14

the first rule of officiating is to see the whole play and then rule properly, you can always go back and try to correct your mistake except in this case he blew the whistle a very sophmoric move to not see the ball

The first rule of officiating is to protect the players.

If they think the play is dead they certainly should blow the whistle...that's they're job. If they did as you suggest and not blow it on any close play, then you would have players getting hurt as they battle for balls that weren't live or piling onto players who are already down. There are several plays a game where it's a judgment whether the play is actually dead or not. They get most of them right. This one they didn't. Doesn't mean they should stop blowing the whistle on all close ones.

posted by bdaddy at 11:35 PM on September 14

Oh and nice move Invesco field not not have the replay working in the 1st Q as well also resulting in a TD for Denver.

From what I understand, it was a call regarding 2 players battling for possession of the ball, which is unchallengeable anyways.

posted by bdaddy at 11:37 PM on September 14

One thing also to note is that the ref who made the mistake isn't exactly new to the league. This is Ed Hochuli we're talking about here, one of the most respected and well known referees in the game.

posted by boredom_08 at 11:43 PM on September 14

BAH on html.

Ed Hochuli

...Ed Hochuli we're talking about here, one of the most respected and well-known referees in the entire league. Shows that even the best make mistakes once in a while.

posted by boredom_08 at 11:44 PM on September 14

While the officiating crew does have an obligation to help protect the players, their first obligation is to call the game correctly.

Anyway, for such an experienced referee to be so badly out of position in inexcusable. He knows that Cutler is right handed, and as such he needs to be on the right side of Cutler.

Bad calls are a part of sports.

As to Houchuli's Wikipedia page, I had no idea people cared that much about him.

posted by dviking at 09:53 AM on September 15

The first play was not a battle for possession. It was a completed pass and the Denver player stripped the ball from Chambers after he was down. The replays clearly showed he was down. They called it an interception. For some reason the replay booth was down. They should have Sunday Ticket on the sidelines so they can get replays. The defense for both teams was awful, but the officiating was equally as bad.

posted by DarrenSproles at 09:54 AM on September 15

Wow, the Chargers got hosed in that game on both calls!

posted by Meathooks at 09:55 AM on September 15

Quick follow-up: I listened to the main sports station this morning and the consensus among the hosts and the fans was generally that the Chargers got hosed, though no one is crying about it.

There was a lively discussion as to whether NFL referees should be full time like in other sports. The best argument for it was that FT refs would get to come to practices and see schemes and plays, though I don't know if that would've made a difference in this case. (And it leads to me wonder if it would bias refs even further if they got to know the athletes a little better.)

Here's a cartoon from today's sports section of the Rocky Mountain News.

posted by drumdance at 12:36 PM on September 15

Anyway, for such an experienced referee to be so badly out of position in inexcusable. He knows that Cutler is right handed, and as such he needs to be on the right side of Cutler.

His starting position is 10-12 yards back and to "favor" the right hand side for right handed QB's. From what I remember, Cutler was moving to his right when he threw it, so that's how he would end up behind him.

The first play was not a battle for possession

Sure it was. We know the outcome of it because we saw the replay, but "Real time" the play consisted of both guys having the ball and one rolling on top of the other coming up with the ball and the question was whether the guy was down when the other gained control. As Collingsworth pointed out on their NBC show, when they both had their hands on the ball it makes it a battle of possession and it wouldn't have been reviewable anyways (so the fact that we can see in the replay that 1 had possession and he was down is moot since the officials wouldn't be privy to see that anyways).

Make no mistake, I'm saying they got hosed, as is pretty much everyone else. It was a bad call, no doubt about it (both of them were). But bad calls happen. You just hate to see them in such deciding moments (particularly what should have been the last play of the game).

posted by bdaddy at 01:36 PM on September 15

One last comment then I'm out. The really strange thing about all this is the discussion in Denver is all about the blown call and the two-point conversion. IMO Cutler should be getting some heat too.

I'm a Cutler fan and think he has all the skills to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl (though probably not this year), but making two goal line turnovers is inexcusable. His passer rating for the game was 109.6, it surely would've been sub-100 if that call gets made correctly.

posted by drumdance at 02:23 PM on September 15

drumdance, I have to agree with you on Cutler's goal line mistakes. The second-to-last drive of the game where he just marched the team down the field and proceeded to make a bonehead throw on the goal line is just dumb. And to think, had he simply punched it in on that possession, the game would've been tied at 38 (probably), Shanahan wouldn't have gone for two, and in all likelihood Denver's final possession wouldn't have happened, as the Chargers would've driven to run the clock out and win on Kaeding's leg. Oh, the possibilities.

posted by boredom_08 at 04:39 PM on September 15

The officials for the San Diego / Denver game should be FIRED and never allowed to officiate an NFL game again. Pop Warner might also be out of their league. The worst officiating of an NFL game I have ever witnessed. It's a shame when the officals are clearly biased and incompetent and take it upon themselves to decide the outcome of a game.

posted by DumontDude at 07:19 PM on September 15

The league has officially "graded down" Hochuli over his performance yesterday. Basically, it a black mark against him that may limit his ability to officiate playoff games.

I did like this quote from Dallas owner Jerry Jones.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wasnt surprised that Hochuli was involved.

"That particular official gets a lot of criticism. Hes a highly criticized official in the NFL",-- Jones said.

posted by dviking at 10:22 PM on September 15

Nope, it was a catch that should have been down. Bailey wrestled it away after the guy was down. It was ridiculous. I watched it over and over on Tivo. Should have been down, chargers ball.

posted by mongo8it at 10:39 PM on September 15

Of course all this happens when I decide to root for the Chargers. I am truly cursed.

posted by HATER 187 at 10:57 PM on September 15

IMO Cutler should be getting some heat too.

agree. On one of the talking head shows they were raving about how Cutler proved Shanahan's trust with him in that game. Would they be saying the same thing if that call was ruled correctly, and it resulted in him coughing up the ball twice in go-ahead opportunities late?

The officials for the San Diego / Denver game should be FIRED and never allowed to officiate an NFL game again

Please. If they fired an official for every mistake, there would be none to officiate. The Dallas game had 2 very bad calls itself that no one is even talking about (missed facemask and bad PI call). Let's fire them too! If they didn't fire Luckett after his mistakes a few years back, I would guess Hochuli would be safe. Especially considering Hochuli is considered one of the NFL's best officials. Norv Turner's comments about how the mistake was "unacceptable" was particularly funny to me, seeing as he has made so many mistakes as a coach. What if every one of his mistakes was "unacceptable"?

The league has officially "graded down" Hochuli over his performance yesterday

What will be funny is when he's still reffing a playoff game despite this markdown, because the others miss so many more calls.

Nope, it was a catch that should have been down. Bailey wrestled it away after the guy was down. It was ridiculous. I watched it over and over on Tivo.

You watched it over and over on Tivo and made a decision. The argument wasn't that if the refs saw it on replay that they would overrule it (they would) it was that the play itself was not reviewable (so they wouldn't have had the opportunity to watch it "over and over on tivo").

posted by bdaddy at 09:55 AM on September 16

Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where it takes something like this to fix a bad rule. I've been a Broncos fan since the Superbowl XII season, but even I have to admit that the call was correctly reversed to a fumble AND that, under the circumstances, Hochuli should have had the discretion to award the ball to San Diego.

As for the Broncos going for 2, it's been said more than once that Shanahan was playing with the house's money. He's no "genius" for having done it, and, if it hadn't worked, I think most folks would have recognized that they shouldn't have gotten the TD to begin with. AND, who knows...maybe they'd have recovered the ensuing onside kick.

posted by zddoodah at 05:15 PM on September 16

bdaddy since when is it not reviewable to see if a player is down by contact? That play was challenged and was in the process of being reviewed so were they also incorrect in reviewing the play as well? If it is as you say "a battle for possession" then that is a case for simultaneous possession which automatically goes to the offense.

posted by jknemo at 12:10 PM on September 17

Of course all this happens when I decide to root for the Chargers. I am truly cursed.

Could you root for the Chargers again when they play the Broncos next time? And how about the Raiders? Could you root for them as well when they next play the Broncos? It would be appreciated!

posted by cobrajet at 02:39 PM on September 17

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