September 20, 2009
Another Week 2, another blown call at the end of a game for Ed Hochuli. This year's, however, was far less significant than the game-changer that embroiled the NFL's most well-known referee in controversy last season.
With 12 seconds left today in the Packers-Bengals game, Green Bay wide receiver Donald Driver(notes) caught a deep pass from Aaron Rodgers(notes) deep in Bengals territory. The Packers rushed to the line to get off a final play and seemed to snap the ball in time. But a flag was thrown and whistles blew the play dead with zeroes showing on the clock.
The officials congregated before Hochuli made his announcement:
"The game was over before the ball was snapped. There was also a false start on the last play. If the ball had been snapped, there was a false start on the last play which would require a 10-second run-off. So, in either case, the game was over."
Hochuli got the second part right. There was a definite false start on the Packers (players must be set for at least one second and few of the players on the line were set at all) and the run-off associated with the penalty would have ended the game. But he and the other officials were wrong about Green Bay getting the snap off in time.
As the picture above plainly shows, Rodgers had taken a three-step drop as time still showed on the clock. The ball was actually snapped with two seconds left in the game.
With the false start penalty, it's irrelevant. Just like Hochuli said, the game was over either way. But it's interesting that he covered his bases this time just in case. Maybe last year's incident has caused Big Guns to become a little gun shy.
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