|Wednesday, December 11
Updated: December 12, 4:41 PM ET
Refs reportedly made at least nine mistakes
MINNEAPOLIS -- The NFL acknowledged Wednesday its officiating crew made at least nine mistakes during Sunday's Green Bay-Minnesota game, including a pass interference call that negated a Vikings' interception on the Packers' game-winning drive.
The mistakes were documented in a confidential memorandum, according to several league sources.
The Vikings (3-10) lost the game 26-22 in Green Bay. Eight of the affected plays occurred in the fourth quarter, when the Packers (10-3) made up a nine-point deficit with two unanswered touchdowns.
Both the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press newspapers reported the league's correspondence with the Vikings late Wednesday night.
On Monday, the Vikings sent in 12 officials' calls the team disagreed with. In a response, league supervisors wrote that Vikings safety Corey Chavous should not have been called for pass interference against Packers receiver Donald Driver on a third-down pass that safety Jack Brewer intercepted.
"It doesn't matter what they say after the fact,'' Chavous said. "We lost the game.''
Under the NFL's instant replay policy, pass interference penalties are not subject to review. Tony Fisher scored the go-ahead touchdown for Green Bay four plays later.
NFL teams routinely fill out such forms on the day after games, seeking clarification or explanations for calls, and it is not unusual for mistakes to be acknowledged affecting both teams.
"Conversations between the NFL officiating department and teams are confidential,'' said NFL spokesman Michael Signora. "We do not comment on them.''
Among other mistakes detailed in the document, league supervisors wrote that Packers receiver Robert Ferguson should have been ruled out of bounds at the 1-yard line rather than given a 40-yard touchdown reception with 10:48 left in the fourth quarter. The Vikings did not challenge the call via instant replay.
The NFL also wrote that Packers safety Antuan Edwards should have received an unnecessary roughness penalty for hitting Vikings receiver Chris Walsh, who had taken a knee to stop the next-to-last play of the game, and that Packers linebacker Nate Wayne also should have been penalized for blocking receiver Randy Moss in the back on the final play of the game.
Vikings coach Mike Tice declined comment. Team officials are prohibited from discussing confidential communication with the league.
The referee at Sunday's game was Walt Coleman, who has more than a dozen years of NFL experience. Coleman made the "tuck" call in last season's playoff game between the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots, and he made a ruling that cost the Pittsburgh Steelers a chance at victory against the Titans on Sept. 24, 2000.
While Coleman was in charge of the Packers-Vikings crew, there is no evidence that he was the official who actually made any of the calls in questions.
In the Steelers game, the NFL acknowledged Coleman should have granted Pittsburgh a touchdown after reviewing a play in a 23-20 loss.
On the final play of the third quarter of that Steelers game, Kent Graham threw a 17-yard pass to Hines Ward, who was ruled down at the Tennessee 1. Cowher challenged the call, and Coleman ruled the replay was inconclusive, costing the Steelers a timeout as well as the score. The loss of the timeout came into play when, on the Steelers' final drive, Pittsburgh used its final timeout before Kris Brown missed a 50-yard field-goal attempt.
"We would have had another timeout at the end of the game," Cowher said at the time. "There are a lot of things that could have taken place."