NFL: Officials wrong on two TD calls for Giants

Updated: November 29, 2005, 1:00 AM ET
Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- The Seahawks received rare word from the NFL that referee Larry Nemmers erred Sunday on the New York Giants' two touchdowns in Seattle's 24-21 overtime victory.

"I had a conversation with the league, and there were mistakes that were made, which we felt at the time," said Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, one of eight men on the NFL competition committee that oversees rules and game operations.

The NFL said touchdown catches made by Jeremy Shockey and Amani Toomer shouldn't have been ruled completions.

Coaches from around the league routinely submit disputed plays after games to NFL officiating chief Mike Pereira and his staff for review. They usually get a response midweek, though that response is usually never made public.

And, practically speaking, teams usually get nothing more than a "sorry" if the league agrees with a coach's contention, because results are not changed.

Sunday, with 1:14 left in the second quarter and the Seahawks leading 7-3, Shockey briefly caught a 7-yard pass from Eli Manning in the center of the end zone. Seattle safety Marquand Manuel then lowered his right shoulder into Shockey and forced the ball to the turf, though officials signaled a touchdown.

Jim Blackwood, the replay review official, buzzed Nemmers, an NFL game official for 21 years, and asked him to review the play to determine if Shockey had possession long enough to constitute a catch.

After a few moments, Nemmers emerged from under the hooded replay monitor beyond the sideline and declared Shockey did secure possession before losing the ball. The touchdown stood and the Giants took a 10-7 lead into halftime.

With 2:03 left in regulation, Toomer leaped high and caught another pass at the back of the end zone. Toomer got his left foot down inside the end line and then appeared to drag the toes of his right shoe into his left as it hit the turf.

At least that's what game officials concluded on the field -- and what Nemmers concluded after reviewing Holmgren's challenge to that call.

That score, and the Shockey's subsequent 2-point conversion catch, tied it at 21 with 1:59 left.

Holmgren said he was told by game officials there was not enough indisputable visual evidence to overturn either touchdown.

"Look, I get excited about it, just like any coach would, especially if you think it might cost you a ball game. But it's a tough job," Holmgren said. "Officials have a tough job. They are honest guys doing the best they can.

"You hope replay would help, if everything would function properly. And I would say 99 percent of the time it does, it works.

"And then there's a couple times for whatever reason, it doesn't work."

Replay rules state a play must be reviewed before the next play begins and that only a replay official -- and not a coach -- can call for a review during the last two minutes of a half or the entire overtime period.

In overtime Sunday, Holmgren called timeout to give the press box replay review official more time to summon Nemmers for a review of Shockey's 16-yard reception on which he again lost the ball after initially grabbing it. Nemmers ruled Shockey did not maintain possession long enough for a catch, reversing the on-field call.

Holmgren said he was surprised he had to spend a timeout to give the replay official more time.

"It's like, OK, we're playing the game and those guys are upstairs doing whatever they are doing," Holmgren said. "Now we get to within the final 2-minute area (of a half) or when they are on, and I'm thinking they should be concentrating.

"So that was a little bit scary there. That should have been done a little sooner, in my opinion."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press