NFL referee crews are paid $150,000 to do their job correctly. Everybody knows the referees will miss a few calls. It happens in every sport. When they completely forget rules implemented by the organization they work for, something’s wrong.
Referee Bill Leavy, who worked as referee in Sunday’s Green Bay Packers versus San Francisco 49ers game should have known, but because he didn’t he was downgraded by the NFL Today.
The call Leavy’s officiating crew made midway though the second quarter was downright embarrassing. Clay Matthews hit Colin Kaepernick out of bounds late and received a penalty. Joe Staley then ran up and started grabbing at Matthews. He also received a penalty for his actions. They were dead ball penalties that offset and the play was redone.
Wait! The play was redone? Shouldn’t the down have counted?
Leavy even admitted his costly mistake:
“The down should have counted. The penalties were both dead ball, and they should have offset where the runner went out of bounds. And it would have been fourth down.”
Instead of it being fourth down, it was deemed third down. The 49ers proceeded to score a touchdown on the next play when quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw a pass over the middle to Anquan Boldin, who then broke a tackle attempt by Packers safety Jerron McMillian en route to the end zone. This transpired instead of the probable outcome of a field goal attempt had it been fourth down.
The four-point differential was huge. The 49ers wouldn’t have been running the clock out late in the fourth quarter. They would have been down by one point and trying to score. This would have also left more time for Aaron Rodgers to do his magic.
Though we won’t go so far as to say it was a “Fail Mary” level of gaffe, the NFL thought it significant enough to penalize Leavy. Was it the difference in the game? No one play determines a game, but it was significant. Most importantly, it shouldn’t have been a factor at all had the officials been doing their jobs.