Pereira: NFL should have reviewed fumble

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Two changes NFL officiating director Mike Pereira says he would have made in officiating for Super Bowl XLIII:

  • Pereira wishes replay official Bob McGrath had challenged referee Terry McAulay's fumble ruling in the final seconds. The play was definitely a fumble by Kurt Warner, Pereira said, but the situation and stakes called for a formal review.

  • Pereira said officials would have penalized Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes for excessive celebration had they seen him use the football as a prop following the winning touchdown reception. Line judge Mark Perlman had already turned away to prepare for the extra point.

My thoughts: Of course the Warner fumble should have been reviewed. That seemed obvious at the time. As Pereira said on NFL Network:

"Looking back at it, it was close enough, at that big of a play at the end of a game, I would have sent it down. ... You learn and you go back from this saying the next time it happens at this point of the game, this big of a play, let's go ahead and get it shut down."

I'm not sure why the replay official wouldn't have had the same thought at that moment in the game. This wasn't a complicated decision. Big game, huge play, final seconds, close call, go ahead and take a look.

On the Holmes play, he made an outstanding catch. The celebration was very short. Yes, he violated rules. Yes, he should have been smarter in that situation. But if officials had flagged him and the Cardinals had won the game, we would be asking ourselves whether an already controversial rule should decide a Super Bowl. The NFL would be hearing renewed charges about being the "No Fun League" and we would be focusing more on officiating than the great plays made on the field.

As things stand now, I think most of us can agree that great players decided a great game, even if the officiating wasn't as good as desired.