One of the few groups Tom Coughlin seemed to be cutting some slack for an underwhelming performance in the preseason opener was the officiating crew. Replacing the locked out NFL officials, those on the field stumbled over some calls, rules and enforcements as the Giants lost to the Jaguars on Friday night.
“I’m thinking that these people try,” Coughlin said. “I stand on the sidelines just watching them work, I mean, they’re trying as hard as they can to do the best job that they can. Is it emblematic of a preseason game? Probably. There certainly are mistakes made. There’s nobody at this junction having played one preseason game, coaches included, who haven’t made errors.”
The crew at the Giants’ opener was led by referee Jerry Hughes, who normally works collegiate games. While there were some missed pass interference and holding calls – the Giants had two receivers attempt one-handed catches in the end zone because their other arm was being held down – and one holding call that was announced against Jayron Hosley, who was returning a punt on the play (a slip of the tongue, likely, since the penalty appeared to go against Michael Coe, who wears jersey number 37, one higher than Hosley). But one of the biggest blunders came in the final moments of the game.
The Giants were flagged for an illegal forward pass with :02 remaining and no time outs left, a penalty which should have come with a 10-second runoff and the end of the game. Instead, after reviewing the play, Hughes allowed the Giants one more snap from the 50.
“Let’s not get too technical here,” Coughlin said. “There was an explanation, but I can’t tell you what it was at this time. Another snap is all I was concerned with. At that point in the game there was not time for a lengthy explanation. The only thing we knew was the ball was brought back.”
Third-string quarterback Ryan Perrilloux was sacked on the play, but giving a team an extra chance at winning the game in the regular season would be an unbelievable error. To make the gaffe worse, Hughes and the officials were apparently aware enough of the runoff rule to mention it to Coughlin.
“They said something about a 10-second runoff but it didn’t take place,” Coughlin said.
The Giants-Jaguars game wasn’t the only one that saw some odd rulings. A punt in the Bills-Redskins game was downed at the 4 but ruled a touchback and set up at the 20. The Bills had to use a challenge to correct it. If the league cannot come to an agreement with the officials, these replacement referees will be calling the games to start the regular season.
“I’m not going to worry too much about that,” Coughlin said. “I can’t afford it. We’ve got to get a team ready to play.”
When Tony Romo is given an extra snap at the end of the Sept. 5 game against the Giants with a chance to win the opener, perhaps that will be something for Coughlin to worry about and get technical about.