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Limitations of replay on display in Packers’ preseason opener

Aaron Rodgers, James Starks

Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers hands off to James Starks during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)


Most of the time when the officials blow a call in the preseason, no one says anything because no one cares who wins or loses in the preseason. But the Packers were unhappy enough with the officials in their preseason loss to the Cardinals that they said something about it.

Packers running back James Starks ran up the middle on fourth-and-goal and was ruled down inside the 1-yard line, even though he did extend the ball beyond the goal line. The officials on the field ruled that Starks’s knee hit the ground before he reached the ball across the goal line, and referee Carl Cheffers didn’t see enough on replay to overturn the call on the field.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that while it may have been technically true that no replay angles showed Starks’s knees at the time he reached the ball over the goal line, it should have been obvious that his knees weren’t on the ground based on seeing the rest of Starks’s body.

The ball was over the goal line; Carl said he could not see [Starks’s] knee,” McCarthy said, via “[Starks’s] hip was three feet off the ground so, I mean, I couldn’t see his knee either. You can figure that out. At least three feet off the ground.”

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers agreed.

“I don’t think my opinion really matters, but it sure looked like it on the replay,” Rodgers said when asked if Starks scored. “We’ve got that beautiful replay board up there, and it seemed that his knees may have been off the ground, and he for sure reached the ball across. But . . . zero on the scoreboard.”

Ultimately, what was really on display was the fact that while instant replay can fix some officiating mistakes, it can’t fix everything. Sometimes there simply isn’t a replay angle that the referee thinks is conclusive, and that means sometimes the referee puts the game through a lengthy delay only to announce that he has to let the ruling on the field stand.

The Packers just have to hope they’re getting all of their officiating mistakes out of the way in the preseason. Unlike last year.