NFL reportedly fires official after missing blatant false start in Chargers-Browns game

The NFL has fired down judge Hugo Cruz, reports FootballZebras.com, citing seven sources with firsthand knowledge.

The move comes after Cruz missed an obvious false start in the Week 6 Chargers-Browns game. Los Angeles left tackle Russell Okung jumped before the snap but wasn't flagged on a play that resulted in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Tyrell Williams that widened the lead to 21-3 just before halftime.

The Chargers won 38-14.

"Yep. Yep. Missed it," coach Hue Jackson said after the game, via Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot. "Yeah, I was told they missed it. Was very honest on my side. It sure wasn't the guy on the other side. It was definitely the guy on my side. That was [a false start].''

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Safety Damarious Randall added: "I was playing my job of man, so I didn't really know what was going on. But, shoot, I've seen a replay and it was obviously a false start. We've been having a lot of things like that this whole entire year, so we've grown accustomed to it. I don't think that made or broke this game, but at the end of the day we've just got to overcome any type of adversity, because it seems like don't nobody want to see us succeed.''

Even Rivers acknowledged that he and the offense got away with one on the play.

"It was close and he may have been early,'' he said at the time. "That's what happens sometimes. You get some of those that could've gone either way. Obviously, that was a huge play because we ended up scoring a touchdown, but sometimes that's the way it goes.''

Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey, who has enjoyed just five wins in the past 3.5 seasons, was understandably frustrated by the missed call and wanted the NFL to do something about it.

"At this point, I'm tired of having bad calls on us each and every game,'' he said at the time. "I feel like the league has to do something about that. But until then, we've just got to make sure we don't make the games that close to where it comes down to a certain call. There's really nothing that you can do. It's us against everybody."

And something, it appears, has been done. Cruz, who was in his second season as a down judge and his fourth as an NFL official, was relieved of his duties, a source told FootballZebras.com, for not "maintaining a very high level of performance over a sustained period."

ESPN confirmed the report noting, "Sources ... insisted there was no indication that Cruz committed an off-field mistake, nor that his firing was in any way based in discipline."

FootballZebras.com reports that this is the first time an official has been fired during the regular season in the Super Bowl era.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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