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Mistake by officiating crew assists 49ers touchdown

By John Breech | CBSSports.com

A mistake by the officials didn't help Green Bay at all on Sunday. (USATSI)
A mistake by the officials didn't help Green Bay at all on Sunday. (USATSI)

The way things are going, the Green Bay Packers might start to think that NFL officials are out to get them. Less than 12 months after the crazy 'Fail Mary' game, there's been another officiating blunder that might have cost Green Bay a win.

During the second quarter of Green Bay's game with San Francisco, a fight erupted after Packers linebacker Clay Matthews made a late hit on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on a third-and-6 play.

Matthews was flagged for the hit, but that penalty was offset by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called against 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley. After the offsetting penalties, the officials let San Francisco replay the down from Green Bay's 10-yard line, and that's where they messed up, head referee Bill Leavy confirmed after the game.

Leavy spoke with a pool reporter after the game.

Q: What happened?

Leavy: On the play where the quarterback [QB Colin Kaepernick] went out of bounds and was hit late out of bounds. And then there was a subsequent hit by a San Francisco player. The down should have counted. The penalties were both dead ball, and they should have offset at the spot where the runner went out of bounds. And it would have been fourth down."

Q: So, it should have been fourth and two then?

Leavy: Correct.

Q: Instead of a replay of third and six?

Leavy: Correct.

The offsetting penalties came on a dead ball play -- the runner was out of bounds when the flag was thrown. Since the play was technically over, the down should have counted. So the 49ers should have been facing fourth-and-2 from Green Bay's 6-yard line.

At that point, Jim Harbaugh would've had to make the decision to go for it on fourth down or kick the field goal. And if Harbaugh decided to kick the field goal, maybe the Packers block it and return it for a touchdown or maybe Phil Dawson misses the kick -- after all, he missed a field goal attempt in the second quarter.

Instead, the 49ers ran a third down play from Green Bay's 10-yard line and capitalized on the officiating mistake by scoring a touchdown on a Kaepernick-to-Anquan Boldin 10-yard pass.

The 49ers eventually won the game 34-28, so the botched call arguably played a role in Green Bay's loss. Had San Francisco kicked a field goal in the second quarter, instead of getting a touchdown, the 49ers would have theoretically been up 30-28 at the end of game.

Green Bay drove down to San Francisco's 42-yard line before the clock ran out on them.

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