The perception seems to be flags are flying indiscriminately. And yet:
_ The average number of penalties per game is down from 15.2 to 14.7.
_ On player safety calls, such as roughing the passer; unnecessary roughness, including hitting defenseless players; and, face-mask or horse-collar violations, the calls are nearly even: 75 this year, 74 last.
_ Instant replay reviews are way up, an increase of 16. But the percentage of reversals is way down: 23 this year out of 62 as opposed to 21 of 46 in 2011.
_ Defensive pass interference and illegal contact penalties are up, but only from 48 to 51, surprising because of the hubbub raised on the airwaves about the lack of such calls.
Offensive players believe the replacements are concentrating on pass interference penalties against them, not against defensive backs. The numbers: six such calls this season to nine through two weeks last year.
“It’s frustrating because I think there was no offensive pass interferences called the whole preseason, so that’s kind of what they’ve been emphasizing,” said Vikings receiver Percy Harvin, who believes he was victimized by “a terrible call” of offensive interference in a loss Sunday at Indianapolis. “It wasn’t just our game but a lot of offensive pass interferences called. It just seemed like they were gunning for the offensive pass interferences this week.
“It’s frustrating not knowing exactly what they are looking at, but we can’t worry about that. We have to adjust to the game and be ready to go from there.”
Where does the officiating situation go from here? No negotiations with the NFL Referees Association are planned, and the NFL has drawn up a schedule to use the replacements for five weeks, if necessary.
That bothers Giants defensive end Justin Tuck.
“I am not necessarily mad at the replacement officials,” Tuck said. “I am more upset with the NFL for not handling this and taking care of this in due time.”
Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this story.