NFL to look into inadvertent whistle rule

NEW YORK (TICKER) —A botched officiating call in Sunday’s game between the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers has reached the NFL offices.

The league on Monday said it will look into changing the inadvertent whistle rule after the season following the Broncos’ controversial 39-38 victory over the Chargers on Sunday.

The play stemmed from a non-fumble call against Denver quarterback Jay Cutler, who had the ball slip out of his hands while attempting a pass. The Chargers recovered with 1:14 left to seemingly lock up a 38-31 win.

But referee Ed Hochuli ruled the play dead after an inadvertent whistle and gave the ball back to the Broncos, who went ahead with a touchdown pass and two-point conversion with just 24 seconds to play.

Although Hochuli admitted the play was a fumble, he said the ruling on the field was an incomplete pass and that the replays rules in that instance do not allow the referees to award the ball to the other team.

Chargers coach Norv Turner termed the call “unacceptable,” and the league acknowledged Hochuli made a mistake.

“Officials are held accountable for their calls. They are graded on every play of every game,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday. “Ed has been an outstanding official for many years, but he will be marked down for this call.

“Under our evaluation system, an official’s grades impact his status for potentially working the playoffs and ultimately whether or not he is retained.”

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Updated Monday, Sep 15, 2008