Originally created 10/24/98

NFL admits blown calls

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- For what it's worth, 49ers coach Steve Mariucci agreed Thursday that officials blew two critical calls on the Indianapolis Colts, helping San Francisco rally to a 34-31 victory Sunday.

But he also said erroneous calls happen all the time and he was surprised the NFL made the rare public admission that its officials were wrong.

Teams routinely send videotape of controversial or questionable plays to Jerry Seeman, the NFL's director of officiating. Seeman's department reviews the video, but the results of the evaluation generally are kept between the league and the team.

Following a video review, the NFL stated Wednesday that the two defensive holding penalties against the Colts should not have been called. Each penalty wiped out a Colts interception and each was followed shortly thereafter by a 49ers touchdown, helping San Francisco rally to 21-17 at halftime after trailing 21-0.

"Every single week, there are calls that you get back that are corrected," Mariucci said. "This is the first time it's been made public. That's the difference.

"It was partly because of the way the game went and (Colts coach) Jim Mora made a couple comments about the officiating, and we're not supposed to do that. Being that he was right, they're not going to say anything. I'm glad they're not doing anything because he was right. But that's just how it goes. Just about every game, there are calls like that."

Mora ripped the officiating as "horrible" in the aftermath of the game. However, the league doesn't plan any action against him.

Greg Aiello, NFL vice president of public relations, said the league decided to address the Colts' concerns publicly because they involved big plays that had drawn a lot of interest.

Aiello said the videotape showed the holding penalties against cornerback Jeff Burris and nickel back Monty Montgomery were close calls.

"But the contact was not substantial to where it impeded or restricted either player's progress," he said. "It was the determination of the review that no foul should have been called on either defender."

Burris was called for holding at the goal line after jostling with Terrell Owens. The penalty wiped out Burris' interception and return to the 49ers 32. The penalty on Montgomery came with him covering Owens and negated an interception in the end zone by safety Robert Blackmon.

Owens said he thought Montgomery clearly held him but conceded the call on Burris was marginal. But Owens also said the 49ers have been hurt by bad calls before and as long as there's no instant replay, flags will keep flying and teams will continue to be hurt by bad calls.

"I think after this year, it will proably be reinistated because there are a lot of flags being thrown," Owens said. "After every other play, it seems like there is a flag. It messes with the flow of the game."

The NFL's admission of faulty officiating didn't do much for Indianapolis. The Colts are off this week, giving them plenty of time to stew.

"They admitted they were wrong, but it doesn't help us any," said Mora, who will not draw a fine for his postgame criticism of the officiating. "I'm kind of glad we've got a bye week because, yes, I'm still upset about that game."

Burris said that dealing with adversity "is the nature of this business; you can't dwell on it." Free safety Jason Belser said the NFL's admission was too little, too late.

"What good does it do us now?" he said. "No good. Maybe they admitted it because it was so evident, but it's not going to make any difference."

No disciplinary action will be taken on the officials involved. The league does grade game officials on every play and those officials can lose postseason assignments -- or even be released -- if they don't meet certain performance standards.


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