Category Archives: NFL Officials

ANNUAL NFL OWNERS MEETING: League ownership approves new rules | NFL approves new replay process | Field-goal posts to be extended

NEW 2013 NFL RULES - Officials discuss changes beginning in upcoming season - The Boys Are Back blog

ORLANDO, Fla. — On the third day of the NFL Annual Meeting, the league’s ownership got down to voting.

One day after approving a rule to allow referees to consult with the officiating department in New York during replay review (see below), the league came to a decision on the rest of the rule proposals on the docket. Here’s a quick summary of the measures:

Rule changes

  • The proposal to extend the goal posts five feet taller has passed.

“It just made sense,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. It passed “relatively easily.”

  • The “NaVorro Bowman Rule” was passed. That allows the officials to make the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play a reviewable call. This loophole was exposed when Bowman clearly recovered a ball in the NFC Championship Game last year, but the play couldn’t be under review.
  • The game clock will now continue after a quarterback sack outside of two minutes.

Failed proposals

  • Multiple proposals to expand plays that can be reviewed were shot down. The Patriots had suggested allowing all plays to be reviewed. The Washington Redskins wanted personal fouls to be reviewed.

Less than 50 percent of coaches supported the measure to make all plays reviewable, according to the Competition Committee. The committee said the topic inspired a lot of debate.

  • The proposal to move the kickoff to the 40-yard line was shot down. So was their idea to eliminate the training camp roster cutdown to 75 players.
  • The proposal to move the extra point back to the 25-yard line failed, but the league will experiment with a new extra-point system during the preseason. Extra points in Weeks 1 and 2 of the preseason will be snapped from the 20-yard line. (Making them like a 37-yard field goal.)
  • The proposal to allow an unlimited number of players on injured reserve to return to the active roster failed. Jeff Fisher of the Competition Committee said that vote wasn’t close.

No decision yet

  • The abolition of overtime in the preseason was tabled until May.
  • The idea to expand the practice squad from eight to ten players was also tabled. The same goes for expanding rosters for Thursday night games to 49 from 46.
  • The league also put off deciding whether to allow teams to open their roof during halftime at games for weather reasons.
  • The Competition Committee told the Patriots that it will look at the possibility of adding cameras to all goal lines, side lines and end lines. The NFL will discuss the possibility with its broadcast partners.

RELATED: NFL approves rule that changes the replay process

referee ed hochuli (85) at work in the half - the boys are back blog

ORLANDO, Fla. — NFL owners voted to significantly change the instant replay process.

The league announced owners voted to pass Rule Proposal 9 at the 2014 NFL Annual Meeting, which says that referees can consult with the officiating department in New York during replay reviews.

This proposal always had a wide swath of support throughout the league because there is belief it will improve accuracy and speed during replay reviews. The existing NFL Officiating Command Center in New York immediately will begin to review replays after the call is challenged. By the time the referee gets to his “booth,” the command center can advise the referee on what to look for in the play. The referee ultimately makes the final choice on the play.

It’s hard to see the downside of this rule. It should prevent obvious mistakes from happening.

The league also voted to ban “roll up” blocks to the side of a player’s leg. This is a tweak of the rule that bans these blocks from behind. It should help mostly defensive players, and is a relatively minor adjustment on the previous rule.

The rest of the rules and bylaws proposals are expected to be voted on during Wednesday’s session (see above).

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IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE: Jason Garrett likes the passion of the defensive line coach Rod Marinelli

Cowboys Giants Football

Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli apologized moments after getting a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins, coach Jason Garrett said.

“He’s a stand-up guy,” Garrett said. “As soon as the flag happened, he turned to me and apologized. But if everybody brings it like Rod Marinelli brings it, we’ve got a really good chance of being a good football team.”

IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE - Jason Garrett likes the passion of the defensive line coach Rod Marinelli - Dallas Cowboys Jason Hatcher's sack Robert Griffin III RG3

The penalty gave Washington a first down after Jason Hatcher’s sack would have set up second-and-20. Initially, the play was ruled an incompletion, but a replay reversed the call. Marinelli had argued that the quarterback was down.

Garrett described what happened like this:

“He had a short conversation with the official on the play that Hatcher got the sack,” Garrett said. “I think initially, they ruled it that the quarterback had thrown the ball away, and I think we all saw that his knee was down, and I think Rod was just trying to let the official know that, and I guess the official didn’t like how he said it.”

Hatcher laughed about it Monday.

“We got him on a grade sheet. I think he got an F today for that penalty,” he said. “He fought for my sack, so I got a sack. That’s my fifth one of the season. I thank him for that.”

THE BIG BANG THEORY: Cowboys safety Micah Pellerin draws a fine for hit against Cardinals

THE BIG BANG THEORY - Cowboys safety Micah Pellerin draws a fine for hit against Cardinals - NFL Flag

Defensive back Micah Pellerin said he was fined $15,750 by the NFL for a hit against Cardinals punt returner Charles Hawkins that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty last week, but he declined to talk about whether he would appeal it.

THE BIG BANG THEORY - Cowboys safety Micah Pellerin draws a fine for hit against Cardinals - Small

He smiled and was ready to say something, then thought better of it.

“No comment,” he said.

But earlier in the week, he said it was a bang-bang play.

“It’s just one of those plays that, being such a bang-bang play that without seeing a replay, you kind of just anticipate a flag,” Pellerin said. “He’s a shorter guy. He ducked. I’m taller, so you know. I didn’t mean to.”

Pellerin, a first-year player from Hampton, caught the Cowboys’ eye with physical play in training camp, and he is gaining confidence.

THE BIG BANG THEORY - Cowboys safety Micah Pellerin draws a fine for hit against Cardinals

“I feel like I’m doing well,” he said. “Just been moving up defense, and special teams I’ve been moving up this week. I’m just excited moving up.”

NEW 2013 NFL RULES: Officials discuss changes beginning in upcoming season

NEW 2013 NFL RULES - Officials discuss changes beginning in upcoming season - The Boys Are Back blog

NFL officials met with the media today (Sunday) following Jason Garrett’s press conference to discuss changes made to the NFL rule book during the past offseason.

Officials ran film depicting all major rule changes to be enforced during the 2013 season:

  • As has been discussed extensively, running backs are no longer allowed to make contact with the crown of their helmet. If a ball carrier outside the tackle box lines up with a defender and lowers his head to use the crown against a tackler, a 15-yard penalty will be assessed.
  • On all kicking plays, the defense can no longer block below the waist, and they may no longer push players into the line or stack one side of the line of scrimmage.
  • Also on kicking plays, the long snapper is now a defenseless player and may not be engaged until he becomes an active blocker.
  • Peel back blocks, in which an offensive player blocks a defender below the waist from either in front or from the side, will now draw a 15-yard flag.
  • Thigh pads and knee pads – all pads worn below the waist – are now mandatory for all players. If it’s determined a player isn’t wearing pads, he can’t return to the field of play until he fixes his uniform.
  • The infamous “tuck rule” has now been amended so that the passing motion ends when the quarterback begins to tuck the ball. Under the new rule, Tom Brady’s famous incomplete pass from the 2001-02 playoffs would have been a fumble.
  • The rules have been amended to change the penalty for an erroneous challenge. When a coach throws a challenge flag for a play that either cannot be reviewed or is automatically reviewed, the team will lose a timeout. In the past, plays that had been challenged erroneously could not be reviewed – such as the case during last season’s Thanksgiving game between Houston and Detroit.
  • Taunting between players, including spiking or spinning the ball in the direction of another player, is a penalty.

Supervisor of officials Gary Slaughter spoke briefly following the presentation, and he clarified the running back rule, which has been the source of plenty of consternation among NFL fans.

“We’re still allowing the runner to protect himself,” Slaughter said. “We don’t plan on getting out there and having a lot of flags on this. In fact, of all the plays from last year, only really a few fit that rule. [The runner] still has the ability to defend himself, if there’s any angle involved going toward the sideline or outside the tackle box – running at an angle, that’s not a foul either. And we certainly don’t encourage the runner to run straight up and take the blow, either.”

Slaughter also touched on the peel-back blocks, saying that any such situation would require the blocker to go across the body. He also added that officials will make a strong effort in 2013 to penalize the instigator during taunting situations.

“We’re really making an effort, even more, to try and get the instigator –even if we see retaliation by somebody. You might see that this year,” he said. “If a player has been picking, trying to get the guy to react, he finally does – even if he does, we’re going to try to get the guy that caused it.”

2013-2014 TRAINING CAMP UPDATE: Jason Garrett press conference–Blue & White scrimmage

Jason Garrett press conference - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys training camp update - Blue White scrimmage - The Boys Are Back blog

Jason Garrett Press Conference – 7/28/2013 – (Duration 19:16)

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media during his daily press conference in Oxnard, California. Garrett discusses roster, rule changes, and the upcoming Blue & White scrimmage.

Click HERE to watch video … Click HERE to listen to the audio


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UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Jason Hatcher not fined for QB hit

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher (97) ready to play - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas – DE Jason Hatcher’s roughing the passer penalty in the fourth quarter of Dallas’ loss at Washington was costly on the field. The NFL chose not to impose a fine.

After the game, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the penalty was questionable, but replays showed Hatcher hitting Redskins QB Robert Griffin III in the helmet with 2:35 to play. The penalty negated a third-down stop by Dallas’ defense and allowed Washington to score a touchdown with 1:09 to play.

If there hadn’t been a penalty, the Cowboys would have forced the Redskins to kick a field goal for a six-point lead with more than two minutes to play. Hatcher did not speak after the game or on Monday.

Dallas LB Kyle Wilber was fined $21,000 for a blindside block on a punt return by Dwayne Harris, but Wilber was not called for a penalty in the game. With a $390,000 base salary, Wilber made roughly $22,941 per week.

THE DREADED HAIR-COLLAR: Dallas Cowboys tight end John Phillips penalized 15 yards for collaring Cleveland’s horse

Cleveland Browns returner Josh Cribbs dragged down by his dreadlocks by Dallas Cowboys tight end John Phillips - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys complained about the Cleveland Brown horsecollar tackle that wasn’t really a horse collar at all.

Dallas Cowboys tight end John Phillips was penalized 15 yards for a horsecollar penalty late in the fourth quarter, which led to the Browns scoring a go-ahead touchdown on the next play. But replays showed that Phillips had pulled Josh Cribbs down by Cribbs’ dreadlocks, which is legal.

"It sure looked like he pulled his hair," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We had a pretty good view of it. It was right in front of us. But those guys have to make those judgment calls in a split second. So that is what it is."

The play is not a reviewable play, which is why the replay official never called for Ed Hoculi to go under the hood.

Cleveland Browns returner Josh Cribbs dragged down by his dreadlocks by Dallas Cowboys tight end John Phillips 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

Cleveland Browns returner Josh Cribbs dragged down by his dreadlocks by Dallas Cowboys tight end John Phillips 2012 Cowboys Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog

Images courtesy: Steve DelVecchio | Larry Brown

RELATED: JOHN PHILLIPS – "All hair. One hundred percent all hair. All hair."

John Phillips testified Monday at Valley Ranch about his horse-collar penalty.

“All hair,” he said. “One hundred percent all hair.

“All hair.”

But, there was no judge in the locker room. No place to appeal. It’s still his penalty.

Still, the fourth-year tight end told reporters he was surprised he actually got flagged on the dragdown of Joshua Cribbs on the fourth-quarter punt return. The penalty put the ball at the 17-yard line, and Ben Watson’s touchdown catch put the Browns up 20-17 with 1:07 left.

“I knew they were probably going to throw it, but i didn’t think they’d actually give the penalty,” he said. “I thought they would talk to each other and realize it was all hair.”

Nope.

Phillips was afraid he had cost the game.

“Well, it sucks,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, because I put our defense and our team in a compromising situation. We had to punt the ball back to them, and I give them 15 more yards, and then they scored on the next play. Obviously, I felt terrible. I guess it’s not a reviewable play, right? It’s just one of those things.”

CONDITIONAL DISMISSAL AGREEMENT: Dez Bryant strikes deal to dismiss family assault charge

Dez Bryant reaches deal with Dallas DA - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas — In effort to get the ugly incident in July behind him, Dallas Cowboys receive Dez Bryant entered a conditional dismissal agreement with the Dallas County District Attorney’s office in an effort to resolve the misdemeanor family charge involving his mother, Angela Bryant.

According to his attorney Royce West, Bryant will undergo a year of anger management counseling and must stay out of trouble for a year. If he does all that, the original charges will be dropped, per the agreement with the district attorney.

Key to agreement, according to West, is that Bryant continues to maintain his innocence and never had to enter a plea.

“It did not require a plea to be entered and we still say he is innocent of any charger,” West said. “But to get the issue behind him, we entered into this agreement with the district attorney. The bottom line is if Dez keeps his nose clean and he has never been in trouble before and if does counseling that he has already started, it will be dismissed in a year.”

West said the Bryant understands the seriousness of the incident and he and his family are happy to get the issue behind them.

West also said “the family was closer than they have ever been”, as “they have learned from the experience and were ready to move forward.”

“Both Dez and his mother are satisfied with today’s decision,” West said. “Ms. Bryant did not want charges filed against her son. After having an opportunity to talk to people who witnessed the incident she filed an Affidavit of Non-prosecution with the District Attorney’s Office. The family always felt they could resolve this matter."

According to NFL spokesman Greg Aeillo, Bryant’s case will be reviewed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell under the league’s personal conduct policy and could face further discipline from the NFL.

West said he has focused mainly on the district attorney and has yet to address how the league would handle it. But he doesn’t expect any additional discipline.

“I would be astonished,” West said. “He hasn’t pled to any thing. He hasn’t entered any kind of play. All he has to do is counseling and stay out of trouble.”

Bryant has never been in trouble with the league before and this was his first arrest, although he has had his share of off the field issues during his first three years in league, including several lawsuits for failure to pay debt and being briefly banned from Dallas’ North Park Center Mall for supposedly sagging pants and a dispute with mall security.

Per the advice of West, his agent Eugene Parker and advisor David Wells, Bryant voluntarily began self-help program in August in which he undergoes weekly anger management classes, abstains from drinking alcohol and has a security detail with him around the clock, even on road trips.

RELATED: Bryant agrees to anger management after family dispute

Dez Bryant reaches deal with Dallas DA video link - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has agreed to a year of anger management counseling as part of a deal that could lead to the dismissal of a family violence charge over a dispute with his mother.

Attorney Royce West said Wednesday that Bryant was already attending anger management sessions, and he said the Dallas County district attorney’s office would dismiss the misdemeanor charge if Bryant stays out of trouble for a year.

Bryant was arrested in July in suburban Dallas after he allegedly hit his mother, Angela Bryant, in the face with a ball cap. A police affidavit says he also grabbed his mother by her T-shirt. Bryant’s mother filed an affidavit asking prosecutors not to file charges.

West said the deal with prosecutors was not a plea agreement, and that the family always thought it could settle the matter.

"The family now has put all this behind them, they just want to move forward," West told NBC 5.

West, who is also a Texas state senator, said in a statement that Bryant and his mother "understand the serious nature of family violence accusations."

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said the counseling is aimed at making sure Bryant is never again in the court system.

"This is an opportunity for Dez Bryant," said Watkins. "He’s only 23 years old and I can understand him being 23 with all the pressure that you have to perform on the field, the fact that you have so many dollars in your pocket and a lot of folks are pulling at you, this is an opportunity for him to grow up to mature and take advantage of everything that we’re offering him not only the district attorney’s office but the Dallas Cowboys to really be the citizen that I think he can be."

Dallas Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said coach Jason Garrett would likely address the Bryant situation Thursday. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the agreement didn’t change the league’s plan to review the case once it is resolved.

According to reports, the Cowboys agreed to provide Bryant a security team while restricting his off-field activities. The Cowboys haven’t commented specifically on those limitations.

Bryant was projected as a top 10 draft pick but fell to the Cowboys at No. 24 in 2010 in part because of a troubled past. He missed almost all of his final season at Oklahoma State after the NCAA suspended him for lying about having dinner with Deion Sanders.

There were pre-draft rumors that Bryant skipped meetings and classes at Oklahoma State, and his pro day was marred by banter that he had forgotten the cleats he planned to wear for the workout.

The third-year receiver also ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills on game tickets and jewelry, and he was sued by people who said they were creditors.

Last year, Bryant was kicked out of an upscale Dallas mall for wearing sagging pants. In January, he was reportedly involved in a fight with rapper Lil Wayne at a Miami nightclub.

Courtesy: Schuyler Dixon | NBC KXAS Dallas

NBC 5’s Randy McIlwain contributed to this story. Click here to watch the short video

EGGSHELL OFFENSE–BOMBSHELL DEFENSE: Dallas Cowboys leave Carolina with crucial win

EGGSHELL OFFENSE–BOMBSHELL DEFENSE - Dallas Cowboys leave Carolina with crucial win - The Boys Are Back blog

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In the most pivotal sequence of the game, when the Cowboys took a late lead over the Panthers, it appeared head coach Jason Garrett was playing to not lose rather than to win.

Ultimately, though, that’s really all Sunday was about, and Garrett’s conservative decision to settle for a late field goal turned out to be the right call. The Cowboys defense did its job twice, and the visiting Dallas Cowboys left Carolina with a win, keeping this young season out of the ditch by advancing to 3-3, far more palatable than 2-4.

Facing a third-and-nine at the Carolina 15, Garrett elected to run the ball rather than force a pass, which the Panthers were loaded up to stop. While the call would’ve certainly been questioned had it backfired, the coach was sure it was the best decision at the time.

“They wanted to play big-time coverage there,” Garrett said. “We wanted to preserve the opportunity there to kick that field goal. … We felt like that was a good answer against the shell coverage, three-man rush they were going to do. If they had done something else, we would’ve been in something else.

Dan Bailey nailed the go-ahead kick from a manageable distance.

The season has had its ups and downs, but having played just two games at home and four on the road, the Cowboys are not in an awful position. They will have to play better than they did today to win big games ahead. That starts with next week’s rematch of their season-opening upset of the defending champion Giants, now 5-2 and atop the NFC East by 1.5 games.

If the Cowboys are to become a team with even the slightest shot at competing for a title, it’ll be through the kind of perseverance they showed Sunday. Things were less than perfect from the very beginning, when Bailey’s opening kickoff sailed out of bounds, but the defense kept the Panthers from establishing an early edge. Likewise, the Cowboys’ offense got only three first-half drives, going three-and-out once, settling for a field goal after an 18 play march another time, then losing the ball on a fumble, but the defense kept the game close.

The Panthers struggled to run the ball all day, save for quarterback Cam Newton, and he was forced into several mistakes of his own when attempting to pass, none more damning than a second quarter interception in the end zone by Morris Claiborne, amazingly the first pick by a Cowboys defensive back this season.

The Panthers led 7-3 at halftime, making Sunday’s game the 11th they have lost after leading through two quarters under second-year head coach Ron Rivera. Though the Panthers added another touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys had confidence in their defense to stop Newton late.

“We trust our defense immensely,” Garrett said.

On the Panthers’ ensuing possession, Newton appeared to extend the drive by converting a short fourth-down throw near midfield, but officials ruled Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had signaled a timeout first. When the teams lined up again, Newton’s pass was incomplete, cornerback Morris Claiborne appearing to get away with a physical defensive play on a pass to Louis Murphy.

The turn of events allowed the Cowboys to tack on another field goal, forcing Carolina to have to go the length of the field at the end. Though Newton appeared to have a shot on a deep ball to Brandon LaFell, the Cowboys defense prevailed.

“We feel like we always have pressure on us, no matter what the lead is, no matter if we’re down,” Claiborne said. “We have a lot of pride in what we do to go out and try to get stops.”

The defense will have to be at its best once again in seven days, needing a repeat of Sept. 5, when they limited Eli Manning and New York to just 17 points. They’ll need more help from the offense along the way, too, with a more sustained run game and better protection of the ball than was on display against the Panthers.

Though this team hasn’t yet been able to sustain momentum, they continue to build reasons for hope.

“I think each week you have to start fresh and work hard,” said Miles Austin, who was on the receiving end of the Cowboys’ only touchdown. “It’s going to be big. It’s obviously a huge week … they all are.”

IT’S GIVE AND TAKE: Dez Bryant needs to quit petitioning refs for flags

Dez Bryant catches a touchdown pass against the Baltimore Ravens - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas — There is a consistent trend with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant that probably needs to stop: He’s arguing with the referees. Too much.

Bryant wants calls. He says his jersey is getting pulled by defensive backs and that there are push-offs. On his second touchdown catch against Baltimore, Bryant pushed off cornerback Cary Williams. But Bryant wanted a call made when he failed to catch a potential game-tying two-point conversion when he felt Williams made contact before the play.

Said Williams: "He needs to step up and be a man. You can’t be a baby about stuff. You’ve got to man up. It’s one-on-one. Mano-a-mano. I got you. Sometimes you’re going to win. Sometimes you’re going to lose."

Coach Jason Garrett said the arguing with the officials has to stop and Bryant has to concentrate and move to the next play.

"Absolutely. We try to emphasize that to everybody on our team," Garrett said. "There’s certainly a natural reaction that a lot of guys have. You see it all around the league. There’s an attention to the officiating, and you’ve just got to make sure to focus on doing your job. Obviously he felt a couple of different occasions where he was getting held, he was a little bit restrictive."

Bryant is a talented player who wears his emotions not just on his sleeve, but on his entire body.

In pregame warm-ups, he’s bouncing around catching passes from anybody who will throw them. During the game, there is a natural chirping that goes on between players. Bryant is almost always in the middle of it. At times Bryant has to be pulled away by a teammate after complaining to a referee. Sometimes he’s the only offensive player on the field still barking at the refs.

After Bryant caught a 1-yard pass in the closing seconds of the Cowboys’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens, he was complaining to the referee.

"But again, we emphasize to him, get that guy off of him and go make the play," Garrett said. "At times (in the Baltimore game) he did an outstanding job of that. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out on the two-point play. But Dez is getting better and better every week. We’re excited to have him on our football team."

RELATED: INJURY UPDATE – Dez Bryant expected to play at Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is expected to play today at Carolina.

Bryant, who has been battling groin soreness, didn’t practice Friday and was officially listed as questionable. He will test his groin in pre-game warm-ups and – if he doesn’t have a setback – will start for the Cowboys.

Bryant is coming off the best two-game stretch of his career and leads the team with 34 catches for 364 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Tony Romo has targeted Bryant a combined 28 times over the last two games compared to 11 times to Miles Austin.

The Cowboys, however, could take Bryant off of punt returns and use Dwayne Harris in his place to help manage the injury throughout the game.

COWBOYS DEATH PENALTY: Jason Garrett discusses options to reduce player penalties

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett - BIO - Dallas Cowboys website - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said it’s his responsibility to eliminate penalties and that he can threaten jobs, even in the salary cap era.

Dallas Cowboys DEATH PENALTY - The Boys Are Back blog

“Certainly, you have the option of saying, ‘OK, if you continue to get penalized like this, you’re going to be out of the lineup or you’re going to be off the football team,” he said.

The Cowboys committed 13 penalties Sunday, the third time this season they have hit that number.

“Ultimately, it’s on me,” he said. “I have to make sure that we’re not a highly penalized football team, and that’s everything that we do here. It’s my responsibility, and if we’re not doing it right on Sunday afternoon, somehow, someway, I’ve got to make sure we do it right.”

Garrett was asked at his Monday press conference why the message doesn’t sink in.

“Sometimes that happens in coaching,” he said. “You have to try and continue to get that message across and when you convey the values you think are important and the different, whatever it is – techniques, approaches you think are important – and oftentimes, over the course of time, if you say it the right way or get the right guy to do it, those messages eventually sink in.

“I think those are messages about that across our football team, and I know we’ve been talking about the importance of running the football all year long and doing that better and not having minus runs and you’ve heard me stand up here and say that for a couple of weeks now, and yesterday I think was a good example of continuing to be persistent with the message, and it sinks in, and you do it that way regardless of penalties and some other things on our team.”

Garrett said he sees some of the pre-snap penalties in practice, also.

“I don’t see them in practice as much,” he said. “I see them more in the game. Some of the physical penalties you have in regards to maybe a hold late in the down or in Felix’ case, a chop block, you’re not going to have those happen in practice. But the mechanics penalties, I think we do a good job emphasizing those things. We have officials at practice. We try to continue to make that emphasis. We just have to carry it to the game and handle that situation better.”

Editors note: The headline is an exaggeration, the subject is serious. Jason Garrett seems to be getting tired of costly penalties! Who will be first to walk the ‘Yellow (penalty flag) Mile"???

TAKING IT PERSONAL: Kevin Ogletree explains his part in getting back to line of scrimmage and penalties

penalty-flag

Kevin Ogletree spoke for himself and Pro Bowl veteran Miles Austin on Monday about not getting back to the line of scrimmage in time to help the Cowboys try to run another play and get closer for a game-winning field goal try.

“That’s a personal mistake, for sure,” he said. “You want to, at that stage in the game, it’s very critical to at least get aligned to run a play, since the plays are so important. We just got to get that mentality that everything is happening fast, and it’s going to happen fluid.”

Ogletree and Austin were criticized for not hustling back to the line after Dez Bryant’s catch to the 34-yard line with 20 seconds to play. The Cowboys wanted to spike the ball to stop the clock and run another play, but instead used their last timeout to stop the clock at six seconds and try the field goal.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett blamed himself for a play call that took the wideouts so far down the field, but Ogletree accepted blame. Austin declined comment to reporters Monday at Valley Ranch.

“I know that’s my job to get there and get to the line,” he said. “I know Miles and I both feel bad about what happened, because we know the outcome. We know we missed the field goal and how close that was and how precious yardage was at the end of the day. So getting back to the line of scrimmage, maybe getting the play called, I think this will all be great for us going forward in learning a lesson.”

Ogletree also accepted blame for the illegal shift penalties. He was called for three (one declined) against the Ravens.

“I think the referees are doing an awesome job just calling things how they see it,” he said. “When a guy is not set or in a shift or a motion, someone before you moves, everyone has to be set. No one can be moving. So if a guy is moving a couple of fingers, hasn’t put every bit of pressure on his fingers on the line, he’s technically not set, so I can’t move until that happens. I have to do a better job at taking a look at that game plan and really just executing.”

Ogletree said the Cowboys coaches spend “numerous” hours teaching alignments and responsibilities.

“I think we’re more than anything letting our teammates down,” he said. “Of course, you let your coaches down, and everyone’s a part of this deal when you don’t have that success you want. I think I said this a second ago, but I really think what happened yesterday is going to be helpful going forward. Just because I know what type of guys we have. I know that feeling I have right now, it’s going to be good for us.”

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE WORST KIND: Jason Garrett is smart, so why don’t Cowboys play that way?

Ray Rice wipes Jacoby Jones' face after Jones returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown - The Boys Are Back blog

BALTIMORE — Safety Gerald Sensabaugh sat in his locker putting on his socks and said to himself, "Man, we are so close."

That is what the Dallas Cowboys do so very well — close.

They do so in the most stupefying, maddening fashion that can be authored.

Not too far from the same neighborhood where one of the world’s most celebrated authors of fiction — Mr. Edgar Allen Poe — once penned his brilliance, the Cowboys once again created their own version of real-time hell.

The author of the Ravens’ 31-29 win against the Cowboys? Start with Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.

The Dallas Cowboys amassed 481 total yards and did not win the game. That is odd.

The Cowboys ran for 227 yards and did not win the game. That is hard.

The Cowboys had the ball at their own 46-yard line with 32 seconds remaining, one timeout, and ran but two offensive plays before settling for a 51-yard field goal attempt. That is inexcusable.

The Ravens defeated the Cowboys when they were clearly not the better team but managed to win because they simply were not the dumber team.

To show how the Cowboys played on Sunday, their smartest player was Dez Bryant. (In fairness to Dez, other than having to miss one drive because he was receiving an IV for dehydration, he played arguably the best game of his career.)

"What do you want? I believe in my guys," Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick said. "It’s not an exact science. It’s football. It’s not mathematics."

Exactly. No one expects the Dallas Cowboys to be NASA.

The Cowboys are coached by a Princeton grad, but his team plays sometimes as if it barely finished the seventh grade. As much as his Ivy League education should be a reflection of his own intellect, the way his team plays says something about Jason Garrett. Which is why it does not add up.

The Cowboys had 13 penalties for 82 yards on Sunday, one turnover, allowed a special teams touchdown, and made a series of self-inflicted wounds in the red zone that killed or hurt scoring chances.

"Three of the five games we’ve had a lot of penalties," Garrett said. "The officials were certainly involved in this game and you have to overcome that stuff."

And the clock management after the Cowboys recovered the onside kick with 32 seconds to play suggests nothing was learned from the nightmare in Arizona last season.

Garrett did the same thing at San Francisco last year — played for a long field goal — and got away with it when Dan Bailey nailed a long kick to send into overtime a game the Cowboys eventually won.

But he got burned on it in Arizona last season, and a little bit against the Giants in Arlington last December.

You cannot bank on making a 51-yard field goal. You always get closer.

"I felt like I could knock it through from there," Bailey said of his potential game-winning kick that sailed wide left with two seconds remaining.

In the Cowboys’ locker room after the game, at least two players were overheard talking about that 2011 loss in Arizona.

Coach Process looks smart. He acts smart. He is organized. His rhetoric sounds sharp, and yet his team plays the opposite.

The Cowboys under Garrett sometimes play not too much different than they did under Uncle Wade Phillips.

I asked Garrett if he thought he has a smart team. His response was some long-winded verbiage about pre-snap penalties, etc.

Garrett is not going to pull a Bill Callahan, who is on his staff now, and go on some long-winded diatribe about being the "dumbest team in America".

If effort is not the problem, and the coaches and front office people insist this is not a talent issue, then IQ is having its say, too.

The environment, as well as the Ravens, had a role in why the Cowboys did what they did. Perhaps the players are taking the cue from their leader and are trying to do too much.

Unlike the Cowboys’ losses against the Seahawks and Bears, which were blowouts, they were competitive throughout in Baltimore. They gave themselves a chance.

On the road that’s all you can ask.

"It wasn’t a perfect game, but we showed fight," tight end Jason Witten said. "You don’t walk away from this saying, ‘Hey, we played a good team close.’ We have to look at the tape and be better."

Because we have not heard that before.

The Cowboys should have won this game, and they know it.

"We should have had this," Bryant said.

Instead, the Cowboys do what they do so well — they get close.

Courtesy: Mac Engel | Ft Worth Star-Telegram

PEAKS AND VALLEYS: Dallas Cowboys lose heartbreaker but find hope, running game

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) is consoled by tight end Jason Witten (82) after missing a 51 yard field goal that would have won the game - The Boys Are Back blog

BALTIMORE — When Dan Bailey lined up the potential game-winning kick at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn’t even bother to look.

He had watched his team overcome 13 penalties for 82 yards, including four penalties for 40 yards on an 18-play, 80-yard touchdown drive just minutes earlier to get them within two points.

A 4-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tony Romo to receiver Dez Bryant with 32 seconds to go was followed by a drop by Bryant on the 2-point conversion.

Yet, Jones was undeterred in his faith.

He had watched the Cowboys survive the loss of running back DeMarco Murray and defensive end Sean Lissemore to injuries, and battle at times without cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Mike Jenkins, Bryant and running back Felix Jones, who replaced Murray, because of injuries and dehydration. And yet they still battled back from an 11-point deficit.

He had watched them overcome a Romo interception for the sixth consecutive game and an NFL record-tying 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Jacoby Jones.

He watched Andre Holmes recover an onside kick with 30 seconds left in the game to set up the Bailey try.

Dallas Cowboys WR Andre Holmes goes after an onside kick by Dan Bailey. The Cowboys recovered - The Boys Are Back blog

Jones didn’t look because he had no doubt that Bailey would make it, sending the Cowboys to a seemingly season-changing victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Never mind that it was from 51 yards out and in front of 71,384 fans who hadn’t witnessed a home defeat since 2010. And never mind that clock management issues with Romo and coach Jason Garrett prevented the Cowboys from running another play to possibly get a closer kick for Bailey.

Jones’ optimism proved futile when Bailey’s kick was wide left, giving the Ravens a 31-29 victory.

"We had the play with the kicker," Jones said. "We didn’t get it done. That’s putting more than maybe we should on him. But with the wind at our backs and him kicking, I had it counted. I had no doubt he would make it. I literally looked away because I thought he would make the kick."

It was Bailey’s first miss of the season. He was 8 for 8 before that try, including three earlier in the game from 42, 43 and 34 yards.

"It’s not a good feeling," said Bailey, who made four game-winning field goals for the Cowboys as a rookie last season. "Everybody worked their butts off, and it came down to a kick, and it didn’t go in. I don’t know what else to say but it hurts."

The pain of losing was felt throughout the locker room. It was their second consecutive loss as they fell to 2-3 and under .500 for the first time since last season.

The Cowboys left Baltimore (5-1) with something they didn’t have coming into the game: a sense of pride, a sense of self-respect and a feeling of optimism for the rest of the season.

They didn’t have any of that following the 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears before last week’s bye.

"I’m sick about losing this game," Jones said. "I feel good about this team. Even though we’re at 2-3, I feel good about the way we held up, stayed in there, fought. The way we did some things, executed, the way our offensive line played. There are some things I feel good about our future with, future being this year. I feel a lot more encouraged than I did after Chicago."

Dallas rushed for 227 yards, the most ever against the Ravens. Murray had 13 carries for 95 yards before going out. Felix Jones had 18 carries for 92 yards, including a 22 yard touchdown run.

Raven Jameel McClain tackles Dallas Cowboys RB Felix Jones - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys dominated time of possession as than ran 79 plays, which tied for the most in team history, set Nov. 12, 1978 at Green Bay, while holding the ball for more than 40 minutes.

Coach Jason Garrett understands that fixing the penalties remains a huge issue. Dallas, however, had 13 penalties for third time this season, including a number of drive-killing pre-snap penalties that forced the Cowboys to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns on each of Bailey’s first three attempts.

Those plays and the record kickoff return for the touchdown proved to be the difference in the game — despite clock mismanagement after the onside kick.

The Cowboys were unable to get another play to get a little closer for Bailey. The play began with 26 seconds to go and was down to 16 seconds when Bryant caught a pass at the Baltimore 34. The Cowboys had a timeout, but they didn’t get to the line fast enough so Garrett let it run down to attempt the final missed kick with six seconds left.

"We had guys who were trying to get off the pile and receivers needing to come back to the huddle," said Romo, who completed 225 of 36 passes for 261 yards in the game with one touchdown and one interception. "There just wasn’t enough time."

But the Cowboys do have time to save their season and they are encouraged by their ability to fight back on Sunday — as evidenced by their converting a third-and-27 play, thanks to a litany of penalties, before Bryant’s score. A 17-yard pass to Bryant was followed by a 16-yarder to tight end Jason Witten to get the conversion.

"I thought we fought really well through a lot of different adversities," Garrett said. "We battled. We continued to battle. Our team grew a lot in this game. At the end of the day, we have to finish the game. We have to win the game. We can learn from that. But I love how our team battle and believe we can grow from this game."

Bryant was the last player to walk out the postgame locker room and was defiant in saying he and the Cowboys will be better going forward.

"I feel this game has made us 10 times stronger than what we were. I know it’s something we can build off of," said Bryant, who caught a career-high 13 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns in addition to the dropped two-pointer.

Dez Bryant catches a touchdown pass against the Baltimore Ravens - The Boys Are Back blog

ROAD TRIP: NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame going on the road

Pro Football Hall of Fame - Canton, Ohio - The Boys Are Back blog

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is taking some of its show on the road, sharing parts of its shrine in Canton, Ohio, with fans around the country.

Barry Sanders’ jersey from the 1997 game in which he reached the 2,000-yard rushing mark, the Vince Lombardi Trophy and an authentic interactive instant replay booth are among the hundreds of items that will be on display in Gridiron Glory.

The 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibition will make its debut Oct. 6 in Pittsburgh at the Heinz History Center.

"The coolest thing is the replay booth," Hall of Famer and Gridiron Glory ambassador Sanders said. "You step into it and can review a play and make the call to see if you can get it right."

Will the infamous ending of the Green Bay-Seattle game be a reviewable play for fans?

Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks game-ending call sparks outrage - The Boys Are Back blog

"That would be ideal for this," Sanders said. "You figure that play is going to make it into NFL history books."

Gridiron Glory will move to New Orleans — where the next Super Bowl will be — this winter before going on to St. Louis next summer, the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, Detroit and Minneapolis.

"It really gives people a good taste and feel for what they can see in Canton," Sanders said. "This will reach people who haven’t been to Canton and might give them even more motivation to make the trip. They’re going to tailor it to each city they’re in, so there will be things that will really appeal to fans in each city."

NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton - The Boys Are Back blog

Someone visiting the exhibit might even run into Sanders, who was inducted in 2004, and share a laugh about how he was an elusive player to interview and has become a spokesman in retirement.

"I think it’s pretty ironic," he acknowledged. "I wouldn’t figure I’d be at the top of their list."

Barry Sanders rushed for over 2,000 yards in 1997 - The Boys Are Back blog

PHOTO: Barry Sanders’ jersey from the 1997 game in which he reached the 2,000-yard rushing mark against the Chicago Bears.

PINK PALACE: The secret is out … Jerry Jones tickled pink

Cowboys Stadium opening a Victoria's Secret store - The Boys Are Back blog

It might make the Dallas Cowboys the butt of jokes, but Jerry Jones will go pink for profit in his $1.2 billion football palace.

A Victoria’s Secret PINK store will open Monday at Cowboys Stadium, a first at a professional sports stadium or venue.

"We think it’s cute as a bug and very in place to show it and sell it out there," Jones said Friday on KRLD-FM.

Cowboys Stadium has pretty much everything Jerry Jones could imagine packing into a single building, but if there’s one thing it lacks, it’s a certain feminine touch. No longer.

The Cowboys sent out a news release promoting a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event that will take place a few hours before the Cowboys kick off against the Chicago Bears. Victoria’s Secret models Elsa Hosk and Jessica Hart will be among the dignitaries there along with Charlotte Anderson, Jones’ daughter and the Cowboys’ executive vice president for brand management.

According to the release, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a "fully articulated lifestyle collection for young women that include bras, panties, loungewear and sleepwear."

Dallas Cowboys lace trim thong panty by Victoria's Secret - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys Stadium store, which will be located on the main concourse club area above Entry A, will sell Victoria’s Secret PINK merchandise that features the Cowboys’ name and star logo.

No need to wait ’til Monday Night to have your emblazon your crotch with the Cowboys Star. May I suggest the Jerry-approved lace trim thong panties? You can order them online right now.

 

RELATED: The Jerry Jones Show

The Jerry Jones Show - The Fan - The Boys Are Back blog

The Jerry Jones Show 105.3 The Fan, September 28, 2012

ALTERNATE LINK: Click HERE to listen to the show (listed on the right column)

EDITORS COMMENT: You really SHOULD listen to this show. Always a few gems!

NFL OFFICIALS VOTE: Veteran officials approve deal, ready to ref

NFL head linesman Tom Stabile, left, and referee Ed Hochuli arrive at an Irving, Texas hotel Friday, Sept. 28, 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, Texas (AP) — NFL referees are ready to go unnoticed again, just as they prefer.

The refs approved a new eight-year contract with the league by a 112-5 vote Saturday, officially ending a lockout that led to three weeks of increasingly chaotic games run by replacement officials.

After a few hours of final preparations with league officials, the next stop for the referees will be the airport. Most will be heading straight to their Sunday game sites.

"It was pretty much ‘Come on in and vote,’" said Scott Green, president of the referees’ association. "We’re going to talk football now. We’re going to stop talking about CBAs and lockouts and now we’re going to talk about rules and video and getting ourselves ready to work football games."

They may get ovations similar to the one bestowed on the crew that worked Thursday’s Cleveland-Baltimore game with the tentative deal in place. Before long, they expect to go back to being mostly anonymous and sometimes hated. They’re OK with both.

"The last Super Bowl that I worked, when we got in the locker room, I said, ‘You know, the best thing about this game, nobody will remember who refereed this game,’" Green said. "That’s how we like to work."

The referees met for about an hour and a half Friday night to go over the contract, then gathered for another 30 minutes Saturday morning before approving the contract.

"We are obviously pleased to hear it," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press on Saturday.

Because they were aware of the financial parameters, most of the discussion by the referees involved non-economic issues such as year-round work and developmental squads, said Tim Millis, the association’s executive director.

The deal came quickly this week after an increasing chorus of complaints became impossible to ignore when a disputed touchdown call on the final play gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory over the Green Bay Packers on national television Monday night. Many thought the ruling of a Seattle touchdown instead of a Green Bay interception was botched, and the labor dispute drew public comments.

By late Wednesday, the sides had a contract calling for refs’ salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019. The current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years’ service.

The defined benefit plan will then be frozen. Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution.

Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials to work year-round. The NFL also can retain additional officials for training and development and assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.

The officials that worked Thursday’s Ravens-Browns game were cheered from the moment they walked onto the field. The difference between the regular crew and replacements was clear. The officials kept the game in control, curtailing the chippy play and choppy pace that had marred the first three weeks of the regular season.

"I think the thing we’re most proud of is the lesson that we all learned," Green said. "If you’re going to be in a professional league, you’ve got top-notch coaches, you need professional officials as well."

Courtesy: Associated Press

OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL: NFL, veteran officials agree to deal

NFL, veteran officials agree to deal - The Boys Are Back blog

The NFL and its locked-out officials agreed to terms on a new deal late Wednesday night which would put officials in place for this weekend’s games — including Thursday night’s game — sources close to the situation confirmed. Both the NFL and the officials’ union later issued statements confirming the deal.

According to the sources, the final sticking point related to the much-discussed pension plan, but that stalemate finally ended.

The sides are currently working on paperwork according to sources and at least half of the 121 locked-out members must approve the new deal, but sources said that is expected to be a formality, with the vote coming Friday.

”Our officials will be back on the field starting tomorrow night” for the Cleveland-Baltimore game, commissioner Roger Goodell said. ”We appreciate the commitment of the NFLRA in working through the issues to reach this important agreement.”

The agreement, which is an eight-year deal, culminated two long days of talks that included Goodell at the table. The deal must be ratified by 51 percent of the union’s 121 members. They plan to vote Friday and Saturday in Dallas.

”Our Board of Directors has unanimously approved taking this proposed CBA to the membership for a ratification vote,” said Scott Green, president of the NFLRA. ”We are glad to be getting back on the field for this week’s games.”

The replacements worked the first three weeks of games, triggering a wave of frustration that threatened to disrupt the rest of the season. After a missed call cost the Green Bay Packers a win on a chaotic final play at Seattle on Monday night, the two sides really got serious.

The NFL said in a statement Tuesday that the touchdown pass should not have been overturned – but acknowledged Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference before the catch. The league also said there was no indisputable evidence to reverse the call made on the field.

The agreement hinged on working out pension and retirement benefits for the officials, who are part-time employees of the league. The tentative pact calls for their salaries to increase from an average of $149,000 a year in 2011 to $173,000 in 2013, rising to $205,000 by 2019.

Under the proposed deal, the current defined benefit pension plan will remain in place for current officials through the 2016 season or until the official earns 20 years’ service. The defined benefit plan will then be frozen.

Retirement benefits will be provided for new hires, and for all officials beginning in 2017, through a defined contribution arrangement. The annual league contribution made on behalf of each game official will begin with an average of more than $18,000 per official and increase to more than $23,000 per official in 2019.

Beginning with the 2013 season, the NFL will have the option to hire a number of officials on a full-time basis to work year round, including on the field. The NFL also will be able to retain additional officials for training and development, and can assign those officials to work games. The number of additional officials will be determined by the league.

”As you know, this has to be ratified and we know very little about it, but we’re excited to be back. And ready,” referee Ed Hochuli told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ”And I think that’s the most important message – that we’re ready.”

UNOFFICIALLY OFFICIAL: Ref lockout could end soon

The NFL and the NFL Referees Association made enough progress in negotiations Tuesday night that the possibility of the locked-out officials returning in time to work this week’s games has been discussed, according to sources on both sides.

An agreement in principle is at hand, according to one source familiar to talks, although NFL owners have postured with a “no more compromise” stance.

Although league sources said it would take a week to get the locked-out officials on the field, the NFLRA says its 121 referees have been trained on the new rules implemented last season, have already passed physicals or are prepared to pass physicals immediately. New official game uniforms designed by Nike are “hardly an obstacle,” according to a source.

Both sides have made concessions on previous sticking points such as a taxi squad of 21 new officials and pension plans that sources say the final meaningful hurdle is, as one source said, “about a little more money.”

While league sources say owners who participated in a conference call with commissioner Roger Goodell during Tuesday’s talks had instructed the negotiating team to set a firm barrier for the financial settlement, the NFLRA is prepared to accept a new agreement primarily in the form of a “ratification bonus,” which would compensate its 121-member union for concessions it is willing to make.

The NFLRA and the league have all but agreed on developing a 21-member “taxi squad” that Goodell has pushed, but not at the financial cost of the union members.

The NFLRA, citing that it once utilized the now-defunct NFL Europe as a training ground of prospective officials, is willing to train 21 officials from the major college ranks by including them in offseason seminars as well as incorporate them in training camp work.

The NFLRA would not unionize those officials and would want them compensated by the league if “they are brought up from the minors” to work a regular-season game.

Goodell has wanted the power to “bench” officials who underperform or are downgraded during the season. The NFLRA contends the league already has that ability because there are always between one and four crews that sit home each week and would be more qualified to substitute in such a scenario.

The NFLRA also wants to form an “expert committee” that would be major contributors to the league’s stated goal to improve officiating. Under this proposal, the committee would be comprised of some of the top retired officials and supervisors of major college conferences who had served as NFL officials.

INTENTIONAL GROUNDING: Significant and serious gaps divide NFL, veteran officials

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NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL and its locked-out officials met the last two days, but a person familiar with the negotiations said Friday the sides remain far apart and no further talks are scheduled.

The source said that there are "significant and serious economic gaps."

Michael Arnold, counsel and lead negotiator for NFL Referees Association, acknowledged the discussions, saying his group reached out to the league last week and the NFL agreed to meet. He said there may be additional talks, but it is "not appropriate" to comment on specific issues.

Replacements continue to run NFL games as talks between NFL and regulars refs stall - The Boys Are Back blog

The NFL locked out the regular officials in June and has been using replacements as the season enters its third full weekend. Many players, coaches and fans have been upset with what they say is poor officiating. The NFL has warned teams that it won’t tolerate confrontational behavior toward the new officials.

The NFL locked out the regular officials after their contract expired. Negotiations with the NFLRA broke down several times during the summer, including just before the season. This is the first time the league is using replacements since 2001.

Broncos coach John Fox talks to referee during loss to Atlanta - The Boys Are Back blogThe collection of small college officials working the games has drawn tough criticism from those on the field. Monday night’s game between Atlanta and Denver underlined the matter, with Broncos coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio engaging in heated arguments with officials.

In response, the league, according to NFL.com, said Thursday night that senior NFL officials called owners, general managers and coaches from all 32 teams to tell them that respect for the game demands better conduct.

NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson noted "unacceptable behavior" and added "we’re not going to tolerate it." He said flags, fines and suspensions are possible for coaches or players who cross the line.

"There’s no doubt the integrity of the game has been compromised not having the regular officials out there," Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka has said. "We’ve got to get that taken care of."

What the fans seem most annoyed with is the lack of pace to games, notably Monday night’s win by the Falcons that dragged on past midnight. The NFL has said that it is trying to upgrade the officiating through training tapes, conference calls and meetings.

The NFL reportedly also threatens fines and suspensions for coaches or players for non-professional conduct with replacement officials - The Boys Are Back blog

The league and the NFLRA, which covers more than 120 on-field officials, are at odds over salary, retirement benefits and operational issues. The NFL has said its offer includes annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The union has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it would ultimately reduce their compensation.

"We just all hope, and I’m speaking on behalf of all 31 other head coaches, we hope they get something done," Rams coach Jeff Fisher has said. "We’re trusting that they will."

RANDY GALLOWAY: Roger Goodell takes a stand and the games are suffering

Randy Galloway - Ft Worth Star Telegram - The Boys Are Back blogThe word is out for Sunday:

The dominant color for all NFL games in Week 3 will be yellow.

As in yellow hankies littering the field.

A flag-fest in a football game has absolutely no appeal to anyone, including those of us attending the Cowboys home opener at the Big Yard, but it’s a predictable counterattack by the Goodell Gang-bangers on Park Avenue in New York.

With its replacement officiating crews — "scabs," if you want to get unionized about it — the NFL took a PR beating across the land last weekend. This was a dramatic one-eighty from Week 1, when we all had to agree the league won the PR battle against the locked out regular officials.

A friend who draws a paycheck from the NFL didn’t exactly agree with me on the difference between Week 1 and Week 2. On Thursday, he said, "The league won Week 1, and last week, I’d call it a Mexican standoff."

I didn’t see the Mexican standoff. I saw the replacements seriously lose a battle over control and respect, which was predictable. Sooner or later, or as long as the replacements are working at a job they aren’t qualified to do, the players and coaches would take advantage of these newbies.

The abuse flowed across the league in Week 2.

Which brings us back to what people with knowledge of the situation are predicting for Sunday. That being, the league has ordered the replacements to fight back with their yellow hankies, including an emphasis on unsportsmanlike conduct calls.

Yes, the replacements have missed calls, or thrown phantom flags, or have had issues with rules interpretation. But over the years, how many times have we seen the regulars miss calls, or throw phantom flags?

In fact, the league now issues positive "talking points" on the officiating each week, but what missed the talking point and what hit Roger Goodell upside his hard head last weekend was a failure by the replacements to take control of games and keep the games moving. Plus, the verbal abuse was immense.

The lack of respect, and no fear of retaliation, empowered players and coaches to go far beyond where they would normally tread with the regulars.

Will a flurry of flags this week change that? No, of course not. Players and coaches smell blood. They will continue to go over the line of protocol when dealing with the replacements. There are games to be won, and there are jobs on the line for coaches and players.

What the combatants see are pigeons working as the "cops" of football. Human nature says the pigeons will be abused.

Meanwhile, I have no stance on which side is wrong in the financial battle between Goodell and the regular officials. Are the money demands of the regulars so far out of line the league had to take the lockout stance, or is the league squeezing the regulars and attempting to break their union?

Don’t know. But we all know the NFL is a massive business where the rich owners become richer because of the value of a league franchise. There is plenty of money to go around and make everyone happy, except those who have the money don’t want to give up the money.

Goodell, of course, has been on a power trip, starting with his overreaction and grandstanding in the case against the New Orleans Saints, a ruling that was more about evidence he could present in the pending lawsuits against the NFL by former players, who claim the league ignored player safety issues.

For an encore, the commissioner also decided to muscle the regular officials. And that has put the league in a position where the emphasis this season has been as much about the replacement officials as it is about the actual playing of the games.

And now, player safety is a central issue again, because with the lack of control by the replacements in Week 2, it put the league back on the defensive about that topic.

We all applauded Hall of Famer Steve Young for his powerful ESPN comments after the Monday night mess in Atlanta. Young said of the NFL:

"There is nothing they can do to hurt demand for the game. So the bottom line is they don’t care. Go ahead, gripe all you want. Let them eat cake."

Eat your cake. Goodell and the owners Do. Not. Care.

Another funny line on that Monday night mess came from former Cowboys front office executive Gil Brandt, who now writes a column for NFL.com., meaning he’s an employee of the NFL.

With a big fuss over how incompetent the replacements were when attempting to determine which team (Atlanta or Denver) recovered a fumble on Monday night, Brandt told me Thursday:

"Maybe [the replacements] got it wrong, but I also have one less Super Bowl ring and the Cowboys have one less Lombardi because an [regular] official blew a call on a fumble."

Gil has a long and bitter memory, and rightfully so. Official Jack Fette infamously melted down on such a call in the 1970 Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Colts.

According to several sources, the league answer on Sunday to what went on last week will be ordering the replacements to give us a flag-fest, instead of the league simply going back to the negotiating table with the regulars.

Oh, boy. More muscle from Roger Goodell, the commissioner who does not care.

We get that part of it, for sure.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

NFL HITS SEAHAWK: Golden Tate fined $21,000 for block on Sean Lee

Illegal hit on Sean Lee vs Seattle Seahawks - The Boys Are Back blog

Seattle Seahawks receiver Golden Tate has been fined $21,000 by the NFL for a "blindside block" on Sean Lee.

The amount is the designated minimum for a blindside block, which is what the league is calling it.

The NFL won’t announce the amount until later in the week, but a first offense in this category carries a $21,000 fine under the collective bargaining agreement.

Tate was not flagged for a penalty on the play even though it was a hit on a defenseless player. In fact, the Cowboys were assessed a 15-yard penalty at the end of Russell Wilson’s scramble when Bruce Carter was called for pushing the quarterback out of bounds.

After the hit, Tate stood on the field and flexed his muscles.

The Seahawks were up 20-7 early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Russell Wilson got flushed from the pocket. As Lee ran toward Wilson, Tate blindsided him with a vicious block that repeatedly was shown on the replay board in the stadium. The Cowboys were sure the flag on the field was against Tate, though it instead was against Bruce Carter for a push out of bounds on Wilson. Mike Pereira, the NFL’s former director of officiating who now works for Fox, agreed on Twitter at the time that Tate should have been penalized.

"It’s up to the NFL," Lee said today. "I don’t really care. The part I don’t like is the celebrating after the hit. … To me, a crack-back block isn’t tough. Anyone can do that. Toughness is about being able to take a hit and getting back up and doing it again."

RELATED: Golden Tate – ‘I’d be upset if I was on that highlight, being crushed’

Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate said Monday that he was praying he didn’t get fined by the NFL for the blindside hit he delivered Sunday on Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee.

Tate posted the following statement on his official Twitter page Sunday evening:

“I hope Sean Lee is ok. I never have intentions on injuring another player. It’s football which means Its physical, dirty hit would be if I went for his head or neck area.”

Well, the NFL saw things differently, fining Tate $21,000 on Wednesday.

“I don’t think I did anything wrong, but only time will tell,” Tate said Monday on Sports Radio KJR in Seattle. “We’ll see what the NFL office says and we’ll go from there.”

Tate also said during the Monday interview that he aimed lower to avoid a helmet-to-helmet collision because he “had no interest in hurting” Lee.

But Tate wasn’t too remorseful when he heard that Lee said the Seattle receiver wouldn’t be celebrating the way he did if the two players met up one-on-one.

“He has his own opinion of what he thinks,” Tate said Monday. “I’d be upset if I was on that highlight, being crushed. But I’m a lover not a fighter so if it came to one-on-one we’ll deal with that whenever that time comes.

“Like I said, I never have any intentions on hurting another player. The way I see it, this is a big fraternity. I was just playing hard and got caught up in the moment.  At that point I thought the game could go either way. It was a momentum changer. It sprung us, and that was my only intentions, was putting this offense in better position to score and win the game. And that was an opportunity that I feel like, at the end of the day, any defensive player would be licking their chops to get a hit on a quarterback. So I felt like maybe this is a legal block I was going to get on a defensive player versus them always trying to knock us out.

“So, I wasn’t trying to be vicious at all. But it is what it is.”

NO FLAG FOOTBALL: Vicious hit on Sean Lee part of rough game

Where’s the flag? If he’s looking for a flag on the Sean Lee hit … he won’t find one! - The Boys Are Back blog

PHOTO: Where’s the flag? If he’s looking for a flag on the Sean Lee hit … he won’t find one! 

SEATTLE — Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spent a lot of time during training camp trying to make his team more physical.

The club seemed to be making strides in that area until it ran into a buzz saw in Seattle on Sunday.

From a bullying offensive line to a vicious crack-back block delivered by receiver Golden Tate against linebacker Sean Lee to a couple of big hits on tight end Jason Witten, the Seahawks punished the Cowboys in winning 27-7.

“It starts with our coach,” Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor said of Pete Carroll. “Pete has a lot of energy, and he spreads the energy through us.”

Tate’s hit came with the Seahawks up 20-7 early in the fourth and was credited with helping to take the fight out of the Cowboys.

The blindside hit came on a 14-yard run by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson around the left end. Tate launched himself into Lee’s chest and came up through his chin, a blow that sent the third-year player flying.

“I was trying to hit him a little bit and get him on the ground, but I didn’t realize how hard I hit him,” said Tate, who flexed his muscles to the crowd afterward.

Lee left the field under his own power. After getting checked for a concussion, he returned a few players later.

Asked if it was a dirty play, Lee said, “It’s part of the game, not for me to judge. I’ll watch the film, but I know that can happen any time.”

Asked if he was OK, he added, “Yeah. Well, other than the loss. … I cleared everything from a concussion standpoint. My head didn’t hurt at all. It was more about losing breath.”

The play didn’t result in a penalty even though crack-back blocks against defenseless players are a rules violation. There was a flag on the play, though, but it was against Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter for unnecessary roughness.

Garrett suggested Tate’s blow should have drawn a flag.

“(Hits against defenseless players) is something the league is trying to guard against, and this was a pretty good example,” he said.

Owner Jerry Jones said he believes the NFL will look at the hit.

VIDEO COURTESY:

CPanther95 (Dallas Cowboys Fan Forum); All41oneforall (YouTube); YouTube

RELATED POST on THE BOYS ARE BACK blog:

UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Sean Lee gets blindsided by Seattle’s Golden Tate

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Will Golden Tate’s hit on Sean Lee fuel debate on the replacement officials?

RELATED: Joe Flacco Calls Out Refs After Baltimore Ravens’ Loss

Flacco upset with replacement officials - The Boys Are Back blog

Joe Flacco had a chance to make some late-game magic against the Philadelphia Eagles. Unlike Michael Vick, Flacco couldn’t get it done.

After Sunday’s 24-23 loss, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback largely blamed the replacement officials, saying they are "affecting the integrity of the game."

Flacco’s biggest gripe is that replacement refs don’t know what holding is. He also mocked the offensive pass-interference call against Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones that wiped away a fourth-quarter touchdown. It’s worth noting a number of shaky calls were made in the game, which took 3½ hours because of delays in making decisions.

"He didn’t even throw a flag, he threw a blue beanie," Flacco said, via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post.

Flacco even admitted that he sounded like a "big baby" after the game. That didn’t stop him from voicing his discontent.  Click HERE to watch game highlights.

Dallas Cowboys take the bacon back from New York Giants

The National Anthem is performed before Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants game - The Boys Are Back blog

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – The Dallas Cowboys waited all year for another shot at the New York Giants. When they got it in the 2012 season opener, they were ready.

So were the replacement officials, who barely were a story with Dallas dominating the Super Bowl champions for much of a 24-17 victory Wednesday night that wasn’t nearly so close.

It won’t make up for the New Year’s Day loss that cost the Cowboys the NFC East title and sent the Giants on their way to the NFL championship. It sure could provide impetus for this season, though, particularly with the discovery of a new game-breaker, Kevin Ogletree.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Kevin Ogletree (85) scores on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo - The Boys Are Back blog

While the officials were expected to be a big factor with the league’s lockout of the regulars, there were no controversies, no blatant mistakes or rampant confusion. The spotlight belonged squarely on the Cowboys, from Tony Romo’s three touchdown passes and 307 yards in the air to DeMarco Murray’s 129 yards rushing to Ogletree’s two scores.

"A huge emphasis for us was big plays," said Ogletree, who enjoyed his big night not far from where he grew up in the New York borough of Queens. "I don’t want the focus to be on me too much, but I am very, very humbled and appreciative of how we played today."

Dallas’ defense frustrated Eli Manning and his offense with three sacks and a half-dozen pressures, all before the largest crowd at MetLife Stadium for a Giants game. The 82,287 saw the defending league champs lose in the now-traditional midweek kickoff contest for the first time in nine such games.

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) sacks New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning in second quarter - The Boys Are Back blog

"We let them know where we are as a defense, and that we’ll play that way every week," DeMarcus Ware said after getting two sacks to give him 101 1-2 for his career, now in its eighth season.

When the Cowboys were threatened late – a spot they often have folded in against the Giants – Romo hit Ogletree for 15 yards on third down to clinch it. That gave Ogletree 114 yards on eight catches; he had 25 receptions for 294 yards and no scores entering the game.

"I’m close to home, so it’s a good feeling," Ogletree said. "But Dallas is my home now."

The Cowboys’ big-time receivers – Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten – were eclipsed by Ogletree, who sure didn’t resemble a backup. In the first half, he had five catches for 47 yards and a TD, and broke free for a 40-yard reception early in the third quarter.

Ogletree thoroughly fooled New York’s top cornerback, Corey Webster on his long score to start the second half – the kind of big play the Cowboys couldn’t make enough of in that Jan. 1 showdown that ended their season. And they got another huge play from Murray, who broke two tackles in the backfield, scooted down the right sideline for 48 yards, and set up Dan Bailey’s 33-yard field goal for a 17-10 lead through three quarters.

After Manning connected with former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett for a 9-yard touchdown with 2:36 remaining, Dallas never gave the ball back.

"Take a bite out of humble pie, that’s basically what it is," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It brings you right back down to earth."

Murray’s counterpart with the Giants, Ahmad Bradshaw, scored on a 10-yard run – New York’s first effective rush all game – for the hosts’ first touchdown. And Ogletree’s opposite number, Giants third wideout Domenik Hixon, made a spectacular leaping grab for 39 yards over two defenders to set up that score.

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) rushes for 48 yards in the third quarter of the Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants game - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas overcame its sloppiness late in the opening half basically on two big plays. Romo hit Bryant in stride over Webster down the right sideline for a 38-yard gain on third down. Two plays later, he sidestepped the pass rush and lobbed to a wide-open Ogletree for a 10-yard score.

America’s thirst for football hardly could have been quenched by the first half – unless you enjoy strong defensive line play. Each team had one solid drive that was stymied in scoring position, and the only players moving the ball with consistency were punters Steve Weatherford for New York and Chris Jones for Dallas.

Sean Lee, the Cowboys’ rising star inside linebacker, slammed into first-round draft pick David Wilson and the running back fumbled at the Dallas 29. Then the Cowboys moved 29 yards to fourth-and-inches at the Giants 37. Rather than try a quarterback sneak, Romo handed to fullback Lawrence Vickers, who never got close to converting.

Dallas showed similar strength after Michael Boley’s 51-yard interception, throwing Bradshaw for losses on consecutive runs on which New York’s line was overrun. Lawrence Tynes’ 22-yard field goal made it 3-0 moments after the first murmur of officiating controversy.

Manning threw to Victor Cruz in the middle of the end zone and Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick arrived along with the ball. Manning and Cruz motioned for a flag, but it did not come, perhaps because the ball was thrown a bit behind Cruz.

Otherwise, the feared flops by the replacement officials didn’t materialize, although Dallas couldn’t have been happy with 13 penalties for 86 yards.

The Cowboys could be happy with just about everything else, including Witten playing despite having lacerated his spleen last month.

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