Report: NFL downgrades Packers-49ers official Bill Leavy

By Ryan Wilson |

A mistake by the officials gave the 49ers an extra down Sunday. (USATSI)
Referee Bill Leavy once apologized for blowing several calls in Super Bowl XL that may have cost the Seahawks a chance to win a championship. On Sunday in San Francisco, Leavy and his crew bungled a call in the second quarter that gave the 49ers an extra down against the Packers. A play later, the 49ers scored a touchdown, and went on to win 34-28.

On Monday, the league downgraded Leavy, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who adds that "NFL officials are judged and graded every week, and are often downgraded for issues. In the end, egregious mistakes can draw fines or cost officials assignments in the playoffs or Super Bowl."

Leavy's mistake on Sunday? After flagging Packers linebacker Clay Matthews for a late hit on 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Leavy also penalized 49ers tackle Joe Staley for unsportsmanlike conduct. (The league ruled Monday that Staley shouldn't have been flagged.) The penalties offset, but because it was a dead-ball foul, the down should have counted. Which meant that it should have been 4th-and-2 from the Packers' 6-yard line. Instead, the 49ers replayed third down and Kaepernick promptly threw a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin.

After the game, Leavy admitted he had messed up.

"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," he said. "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."

It's the second time in two years that the Packers have been on the wrong end of an official's gaffe. Silver lining: At least it wasn't the Super Bowl.

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