NFL Acknowledges Blown Call on Broncos’ Punt Return Touchdown

The National Football League said Trindon Holliday’s 76-yard punt return for the Denver Broncos against the Carolina Panthers two days ago was mistakenly ruled a touchdown rather than a touchback.

In the second quarter of the Broncos’ 36-14 victory, television replays showed Holliday flipped the ball out of his hand before he crossed the goal line on the punt return.

Because of his premature celebration, the NFL said the play should have been a touchback, with officials taking the touchdown away from the Broncos and giving Carolina possession at its 20-yard line. The NFL said in a statement that replay official Bob Boylston should have stopped the game for a video review, which would have given referee Alberto Riveron the visual evidence to overturn the on-field ruling.

Broncos coach John Fox said the issue has already been addressed with Holliday, as the team seeks to eliminate any premature celebrations in the future.

“He’s got full instructions from Jeff Rodgers, our special teams coach, to bring the ball all the way back to him,” Fox told reporters yesterday. “Bring it to the sideline, hand it to your coach.”

The NFL also said more than one minute was mistakenly run off the game clock during the second quarter of the 24-24 tie between the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams two days ago.

The NFL said the clock operator erred in not stopping the timing as officials measured for a possible first down. Timing issues can’t be reviewed by instant replay and, once the next play begins, the clock can’t be adjusted.

The league said timing procedures will be “carefully reviewed” with game officials and clock operators this week.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at

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