Contra Costa Times

Tagliabue blasts officiating at 49ers-Giants game
January 08, 2003

NEW YORK - NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said Tuesday the officiating errors made at the end of the NFC wild-card game between the New York Giants and the 49ers were "totally unacceptable."

Tagliabue said the league is already looking into ways to avoid a recurrence of the errors that prevented the Giants from attempting a potential game-winning 41-yard field goal in their 39-38 loss to the 49ers on Sunday.

The league admitted Monday that the officiating crew failed to call a pass interference penalty against the 49ers on the final play of the game.

"What happened at the end in terms of the breakdown of officiating was totally unacceptable to us and it shouldn't have happened with the mechanics already in place," Tagliabue said in a radio interview on Sporting News Radio.

"We are going to be thoroughly reviewing how the breakdown occurred and make certain that it doesn't happen again," he said.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Tagliabue was not available for further comment Tuesday night.

The pass interference penalty against 49ers defensive end Chike Okeafor would have created offsetting penalties -- New York was flagged for an illegal man downfield -- and given the Giants another chance to kick the field goal.

The Giants botched the first attempt because of a bad snap, which forced holder Matt Allen to throw a pass to guard Rich Seubert, who was eligible on the play.

Tagliabue said there were plenty of mistakes in the game by all the participants.

"I'm sure that everybody feels that there were some breakdowns in that game and I'm sure Steve Mariucci feels that his club broke down in the first half and the Giants didn't perform in the second half like they did in the first and that's part of football," Tagliabue said. "On the officiating point, it shouldn't have happened and we are reviewing it thoroughly."

Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said the team really didn't care.

Other items from the aftermath of Sunday's game:

An NFL executive said that "everything is open" to review after Sunday's blunder. "Everyone feels bad about this," Mike Pereira, the NFL's director of officiating, said. "We all feel miserable. No one wants to live with this mistake."

The NFL has the regulatory means in place to force a replay of a game, either in its entirety or just a portion, only in extraordinary circumstances. But even Giants executives believe that replaying any part of that game would be impractical, unfair and probably unwise, setting a precedent that would open a Pandora's box.

John Mara, the Giants' executive vice president and general counsel, who is a member of the league's competition committee, expects Sunday's game-ending play to be discussed when NFL executives review the methods of applying instant replay. There was no instant replay review Sunday after penalty flags flew at the end of the game.

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