NFL denies telling Seahawks errors were made

Updated: November 29, 2005, 9:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- The NFL denies telling the Seahawks that officials erred when they ruled two New York Giants touchdown receptions complete in Seattle's 24-21 overtime win.

Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said Monday that the league took the rare step of admitting officiating mistakes in the game Sunday. The league said in a statement released Tuesday that reports that it told the Seahawks of officiating mistakes on the two touchdown receptions were inaccurate.

"Our officiating department never discussed with the Seahawks the Amani Toomer touchdown reception, which was properly called," the statement said. "The Jeremy Shockey touchdown catch at the end of the first half was not overturned because the referee determined that there was insufficient visual evidence to reverse the call."

Holmgren's disclosure is being reviewed as a potential violation of league policy, which says that a coach is not allowed to publicly divulge confidential conversations with the officiating department, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported. Holmgren may be subject to a fine and his access to the officiating office could be restricted for a limited amount of time.

On Monday, when asked whether he had heard from the league on the two Giants touchdown calls, he said he was told "there were some mistakes that took place, which we felt at the time."

The Seahawks said Tuesday neither Holmgren nor the team had further comment on the matter. A league official declined further comment Tuesday.

Coaches routinely send video of plays they believe were incorrectly called to the league. Each week, the officiating department reviews them and sends a confidential response -- but it's usually nothing more than an apology, since results aren't changed.

Those communications are normally back-channel and not made public, though Holmgren has disclosed them before without a league response.

In the first half Sunday, Shockey briefly caught a 7-yard pass in the end zone; though the ball was forced to the turf by a defender, officials signaled a touchdown. Jim Blackwood, the replay review official, asked for a booth review by referee Larry Nemmers, who declared that Shockey indeed had possession.

Then, with 2:03 left in regulation, a leaping Toomer caught the ball and got his left foot down inside the back of the end zone and appeared to drag the toes of his right shoe into his left as it hit the turf. Holmgren challenged the touchdown call, but Nemmers ruled that it stood.

Holmgren said he was told by game officials there wasn't 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 Monday. "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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.