At the end of their contest, members of both the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals voiced displeasure over the action’s of Pete Morelli’s officiating crew in the game. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was so agitated, he described the crew by saying “they couldn’t count to three.”
Here was Arian’s main problem with the officiating, per Kent Somers of AZCentral.com:
49ers coach Jim Tomsula declined to answer questions about the officiating, but Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had no such problem.
“The officials were struggling. Mightily,” Arians said. “I mean, they can’t count to three.”
Arians was referring to a sequence in the first quarter. On a third-and-4 play, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer completed a 4-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald for the first down.
The Cardinals weren’t sure the ball was correctly spotted, so they hurried and ran the next play, a 2-yard gain by running back Stepfan Taylor.
The 49ers were caught off-guard and had 13 men on the field. Penalty flags appeared to be thrown late, and after much discussion, Morelli and his crew assessed the penalty after the 2-yard gain.
What should have been a first-and-5 at the 49ers’ 10-yard line, became second-and-3 from the 8. “That’s not what we accepted,” Arians said, “and that was the whole problem. It was a FUBAR on their part. They can try to explain it; they’re wrong.”
The Cardinals didn’t gain a yard on the next two plays and kicked a field goal.
Tuesday, the NFL removed Morelli’s crew from officiating Sunday night’s upcoming primetime contest featuring the Steelers and Colts. They have been reassigned to Sunday’s New England-Philadelphia game, according to a report from Pro Football Talk.
The changes were reportedly made in response to the error’s in the 49ers/Cardinals game. The league wouldn’t confirm this being the specific reason, only saying officiating changes occur throughout the season due to various reasons, according to a report by CSNBayArea’s Matt Maiocco.
“With the exception of the referee, officiating crews are not announced publicly in advance of gameday,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora told CSNBayArea.com. “Schedules change throughout the season for a variety of reasons, and we do not comment on why officials are assigned to specific games.”
However, we know this isn’t the first time Morelli, or a member of his crew has faced league discipline for poor calls. Not even the first time this season, as a matter of fact. Rob Vernatchi — a side judge of the Morelli crew — was suspended with pay by the league earlier in the season. He failed to ensure the accuracy of the clock during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 24-20 win over the San Diego Chargers in Week 5.
At the time of the suspension, the league issued a statement, saying the mistake would affect the season evaluation of Morelli’s entire officiating team.
This is the same crew that might have missed a delay of game call, after the play clock expired on the TV broadcast during the Cardinal’s game-winning drive in Sunday’s victory.
After the game, San Francisco offensive lineman Alex Boone spoke vehemently about the officiating. “I’m really not too worried about getting fined,” Boone said. “I thought those refs sucked.”
Said wide receiver Anquan Boldin: “I mean, felt like we were playing two teams today. I thought it was ridiculous all day. If you’re going to call the game that way, call it both ways. Don’t let it just be so lopsided where it’s blatant.”