NFL moves Pete Morelli’s crew off Sunday night game

NEW YORK — The NFL has moved referee Pete Morelli’s crew off the upcoming Sunday night game between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.

Instead, the crew will work an afternoon game between the Eagles and Patriots.

Morelli’s group was heavily criticized by both sides after the 49ers-Cardinals game Sunday. Arizona coach Bruce Arians said the officials “can’t count to three.”

There were a combined 20 penalties in the game. During Arizona’s first series of the second half, San Francisco committed five penalties, including four pass interferences and an illegal hands to the face, as the Cardinals reached the end zone on their way to a 19-13 win.

The 49ers were flagged 13 times for 81 yards, including a costly roughing-the-passer flag during the winning drive.

“I’m not really too worried about getting fined, I thought those refs (stunk),” 49ers left guard Alex Boone said in the locker room Sunday.

“If you don’t like what we say then don’t like what we say, don’t throw a flag for it. That’s what I’m sick about this league,” he added. “This is supposed to be a man’s game. Be a man. That’s what (ticks) me off, because guys like that work in this league and work on that field, and we have to deal with it. Whatever.”

And on Oct. 12, side judge Rob Vernatchi from Morelli’s crew was suspended for one game for not properly keeping track of the game clock in a Pittsburgh-San Diego game. At the time, the league said the error would impact the full-season evaluation of Morelli’s crew.

Morelli was also the referee during last season’s Lions-Cowboys playoff game where a crucial pass interference penalty was overturned.

The Lions punted after the sequence, and the Cowboys drove to the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

After the game, Morelli acknowledged he should have waited longer to announce the penalty. He also announced that there was no penalty, but never explained why the flag was picked up.

Morelli says “it probably would have been smoother if we got together.”

There have been other controversies involving officiating this season.

On Oct. 5, back judge Greg Wilson missed an end-zone penalty in the final moments of Detroit’s loss at Seattle. Wilson was reassigned from his next game, taken off the prime-time matchup of Patriots-Colts.

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