WINNIPEG -- The CFL has admitted it made a mistake during Friday night's game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Tom Higgins, the league's director of officiating, said Monday the league's replay command centre officials erred when they reviewed a Bomber challenge that Ticats quarterback Kevin Glenn fumbled on a third-quarter run at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
Glenn took off running with six minutes left in the third and the Ticats leading 14-0. Bomber defensive tackle Deji Oduwole hit Glenn at Winnipeg's 21-yard line, popping the ball loose. The on-field officials blew the play dead because they felt Glenn was down by contact, but Winnipeg's Don Oramasionwu fell on the ball shortly after the whistle anyway.
The rule book states that if a team challenges the call, it's deemed a fumble and their own player fell on the ball "directly and immediately" — even if it's after the whistle — then the squad that recovered takes possession.
That's exactly what happened on Friday night, but the replay officials in Toronto didn't see it that way.
"This is going to go down as an incorrect ruling, because we didn't allow enough time," Higgins said. It's believed those in the command centre watched the replay in slow motion, which Higgins said "distorts reality."
"When it went to the command centre, they ruled that it was a fumble," Higgins said. "But they were looking at the second aspect of it, which is 'directly and immediately' recovered.
"And that's where we feel we erred. That was the choice of the command centre, and we're not perfect. We take responsibility, and we want to hopefully learn from it."
Two plays later, Glenn threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Mann that gave the Ticats a 21-0 lead. Hamilton went on to win the game 28-7.
From here on out, Higgins noted, "we're going to add time to it as far as the interpretation of 'immediately and directly.'"
Higgins said the replay command centre reviewed 90 plays during the 2009 season and made two mistakes. He wants fans to trust instant replay despite Friday's error.
"It's a shame, because that's what we have replay for," Higgins said. "People now are losing faith in the fact that it can't get it done. It's still human. There's a human element to it and it's disappointing that it happens, but we deal with it. We move on.
"We know there's going to be some other mistakes that are going to occur. We hope that we can minimize them."