(CBS) NFL officials’ decision to overturn on replay review what was initially ruled a touchdown catch by Bears tight end Zach Miller in his team’s loss to the Saints on Sunday so stunned former NFL vice president of officiating and Fox Sports rules expert Mike Pereira that had the the initial call been an incompletion, Pereira believes there was enough video evidence to overturn it to a touchdown catch.
The reasoning for the overturn was somewhat muddled, with referee Carl Cheffers citing Miller’s failure to “survive the ground” because he “temporarily lost control of the ball.” That wasn’t a sufficient reasoning in the minds of Pereira and Dean Blandino, who left his post as the vice president of officiating in April and also works on Fox broadcasts now.
Pereira emphasized that “slight movement” of the football isn’t a reason for overturning an initial call on the field because that can occur even with control of the ball. You need clear evidence of lost possession to overturn a call.
“We look at this play — Dean Blandino, who was making these decisions last year, he’s now with us — he and I were breaking down the play yesterday in LA and we concluded that had they ruled that incomplete that we would’ve reversed that to a touchdown,” Pereira said on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on Tuesday. “There’s where you’re looking at it and saying, ‘Whoa, where is this disconnect here?’ Zach’s going to the ground. We all get that. He doesn’t lose possession on the way to the ground. He hits the ground in obvious pain, rolls over on his back still with possession of the ball, then lets it go. Dean really invented this language last year when he said ‘you have to survive the ground when you hit the ground.’ Which means if you hit the ground, in that moment when your entire body hits the ground, if the ball comes loose, it’s an incomplete pass. But if you survive the ground — there has to be an end, and the end is determined by when you roll over — if the ball comes out after you roll over, it’s complete. The process is over. And for the life of us, we just can’t figure out how that play ruled on the field as a touchdown, what was so clear and so obvious to reverse that to an incomplete pass.”
Pereira expressed great concern about how “common sense” has more or less been legislated out of replay review in the name of technicalities. The reason for that is because “judgment” is now allowed in replay review, which Pereira believes shouldn’t exist. He pointed out that the original intention of video review was to provide facts on plays involving the sidelines, goal line and ground that weren’t visible to real time to the naked eye.
Blandino shares Pereira’s view in that regard, Pereira said.
“We’re getting very concerned that the NFL office in getting way too technical in looking at these plays and making changes on the field that to us don’t make any sense,” Pereira said.
“I’m also not only not satisfied with their explanation, but I’m concerned with the direction they’re going in replay because we saw it really three times this past weekend where the decision that was made was really contrary to the basic premise of officiating, where you only make changes if there is indisputable visual evidence. It’s now called clear and obvious, clear and obvious evidence.”
Pereira summed the chaos and confusion up best with one line.
“We’re getting rulings that 50 drunk guys in a bar don’t agree with,” Pereira said.