Ref's mistake will lead to plenty of rules committee talk

KEN FIDLIN

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Referee Ed Hochuli's monumental gaffe that, for all practical purposes, robbed the Chargers of a win at Denver last Sunday, probably is going to resonate through league business all season.

With the Chargers leading 38-31, and the Broncos driving at the San Diego one-yard line in the game's final minute, Broncos QB Jay Cutler dropped back to pass. The ball slipped from his hand and was recovered by a Charger.

Hochuli ruled, incorrectly, that it was an incomplete pass. Even when instant replay proved it should be a fumble, nothing could be done because the whistle had blown when the play was ruled an incompletion.

The situation will be the source of much heated discussion at the next rules committee meeting because some people are going to lobby that the whistle should be ignored in such situations. This, undoubtedly, would open up a no-man's land of mayhem that could lead to serious injuries.

Meanwhile, Hochuli, one of the NFL's senior officials and the one referee with the physique that could be mistaken for that of a player, is "devastated," according to reports.

"When you make a mistake of this magnitude, at this particular juncture in the game, it's been really hard on him," NFL supervisor of officials Mike Pereira said.

"We've talked probably seven or eight times since that game and my whole goal is to try to get him back on the horse and work again this weekend."

HOT-DOGGIN' IT

Philadelphia rookie DeSean Jackson has taken plenty of grief over his hot-dog fumble on Monday, an unforced error that occurred when he started his TD celebration a few yards early against the Cowboys.

Jackson was on his way to a 61-yard touchdown reception from Donovan McNabb when he casually flicked the ball backward before crossing the goal line. The touchdown was overturned, but the Eagles got the ball at the one-yard line and eventually scored.

Teammates and coaches let Jackson know that he had screwed up.

"I had a lot of people messing with me about it, but I'm just going to move on," said Jackson, who became just the second player in NFL history to begin his career with consecutive 100-yard games. "I've got a lot more football to play. I'm just not even worried about it."

Curiously, Jackson made a similar mistake three years ago in a high school all-star game when he tried to showboat with a swan dive, mistimed his takeoff and landed at the one-yard line.

DEAD MEN WALKING

Rams coach Scott Linehan has a large bull's-eye painted on his forehead. In fact, it would seem to be a race between Linehan and Oakland's Lane Kiffen to see who gets shown the door first.

"The level of play is not acceptable to me or anybody in the organization," new team owner Chip Rosenbloom told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Things will get better, and if they don't, changes will be made."

If Rosenbloom fires Linehan, the likely candidate to succeed him is defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

Meanwhile Kiffen is engaged in a very public spat with Raiders owner Al Davis. The Raiders' win in Kansas City last weekend probably saved his job, at least temporarily, but a loss in Buffalo today could tip him over the edge.

GUS TO THE RESCUE

Look for the Vikings to come out throwing against the Panthers with 37-year-old Gus Frerotte doing the slinging. In addition to beefing up the offensive options, an aerial attack is necessary to take some pressure off running back Adrian Peterson, who already has 48 carries and five receptions.

Coach Brad Childress has named Frerotte his starter for the rest of the season, barring injury, and that throws into question the future of young QB Tarvaris Jackson, who was unable to get the ball to wideout Bernard Berrian, a $42-million US off-season acquisition.


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