VP of officiating acknowledges mistake

Updated: November 19, 2009, 1:51 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- NFL VP of officiating Mike Pereira said Wednesday that the crew working last Sunday's Cowboys-Packers game was wrong in not penalizing the Packers 15 yards for challenging a play when they were out of challenges.

With 7:29 to play in the fourth quarter, Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton made a 14-yard diving catch. The Packers challenged the catch but the officiating crew shouldn't have allowed the challenge.

After a delay in play, referee Jeff Triplette said the Packers didn't have any more challenges left.

According to the NFL rule book, Rule 15, Section 9, "For initiating a challenge when all of a team's timeouts have been exhausted or when all of its available challenges have been used: Loss of 15 yards."

But the referees allowed play to continue without penalizing the Packers, who used up all their challenges.

"We should have thrown the flag right then for unsportsmanlike conduct," Pereira said on NFL Network. "It's a 15-yard penalty. If a coach attempts to challenge either inside two minutes, when's he's not allowed to challenge or if he's out of challenges or if has no timeouts left, he should have been penalized right at that point. We were wrong in not doing that."

In the future, Pereira said the referees will tell coaches if they don't have any more challenges in addition to telling them when they're out of timeouts.

Pereira, meanwhile, backed up the referees decision not to review a fumble by quarterback Tony Romo near the 12 minute mark of the fourth quarter. Romo fumbled when sacked by cornerback Charles Woodson. Running back Felix Jones recovered the fumble, but lost it when the defensive end Johnny Jolly stripped him of the ball. Jones was on his back when Jolly stripped him of the ball. The ball was picked up by linebacker Clay Matthews who was then pushed out of bounds by tight end Jason Witten.

Coach Wade Phillips challenged the fumble by Jones, saying he was down, but the referees after going to the replay monitor, but not reviewing the play, said a fumble is not null in the field of play. It's only reviewable in the end zone.

Pereira said a similar play occurred in Week 13 between the Jets and Broncos last season.

"I was shocked that we even started to go to the monitor to review it and then comeback and did make the right decision," Pereira said.

Phillips said the referees missed two other calls, when Packers returner Tramon Williams stepped out of bounds near the end of the first half, which led to a field goal. The other miscue, according to Phillips, occurred when they didn't mark off the spot of a foul on another punt return by Williams.

Pereira wasn't asked about those two plays.

Calvin Watkins covers the Dallas Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at calvin.watkins@espn3.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.