SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians didn't think the officials brought their A-game on Sunday at Levi's Stadium -- especially on one play in the first quarter.
"The officials were struggling -- mightily," Arians said. "They can't count to three."
Arians was referring to a play in the first quarter on which referee Pete Morelli and his crew had trouble figuring out which down it was after penalizing the San Francisco 49ers for having too many men on the field.
After quarterback Carson Palmer completed a 4-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald at the San Francisco 15 for a first down, Arians called for a hurry-up run play because he didn't think the officials spotted the ball accurately. The quick play on first-and-10, which was a 2-yard gain by running back Stepfan Taylor, caused San Francisco to play the down with 13 players on the field. The Cardinals accepted the ensuing penalty, which should've been a live-ball foul. That would've given Arizona first-and-5 from the 10, according to Fox Sports analyst and former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira.
Instead, Morelli called a dead-ball foul, Pereira said, and awarded the 5 yards in addition to Taylor's run, which made Arizona's next play second-and-3 from the San Francisco 8.
"That's not what we accepted," Arians said. "That was the whole problem. It was a FUBAR on their part. They can try to explain it. They're wrong."
It took a review and a conversation with New York for the situation to be resolved, regardless of whether it was the correct call. Arians said the officials tried to clarify their call, but after a while, Arians said he had heard enough.
"I got so many explanations, I got tired of them," Arians said, "because they were just running out of them."