Vikings-49ers replacement ref fiasco: 'Frisco gets extra timeouts, phantom challenges [VIDEO]

Harbaugh somehow intimidated scab officials into giving his team new life in a game they had already lost.
Harbaugh somehow intimidated scab officials into giving his team new life in a game they had already lost.

It's a good thing the Vikings pulled off a 24-13 upset win over the feared San Francisco 49ers yesterday, otherwise the talk of the town this morning would be how the replacement refs jobbed the hometown squad.

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During the final stretch of yesterday's game, scab refs were intimidated by 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh into granting previously undefeated San Fran timeouts he had already spent and challenges he didn't have. Then, upon review of a play where Vikings running back Toby Gerhart fumbled after whistles blew and while 49ers defenders seemingly tried to dismember him, the refs somehow decided to give the ball to San Francisco, breathing new life into a game that had already been decided.

It was one of the most embarrassing officiating fiascos in a three-week-old season that has already been full of them. Another comedy of errors happened last night in Baltimore, where Ravens fans upset about a mysterious illegal contact penalty (among other questionable calls) chanted "Bull-shit!" so loudly that NBC didn't even bother to try and censor it.

After the Minnesota game, referee Ken Roan admitted he and his crew botched the timeout-challenge situation. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, not one to stir controversy, said of the down-the-stretch calls, "there were some head-scratchers, no question about it." About the first phantom fumble call (he went on to fumble two more times before the game was through), Gerhart said, "I have no idea... I don't know what was going on there."

Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway wasn't directly involved in any of the bad calls, but still received a string of questions about the replacement refs from reporters after the game. "That probably tells you the story right there," he said. Translated from please-don't-fine-me speak, that means -- "These guys are a f**king joke."

Here's full footage of yesterday's Vikings-49ers replacement ref fiasco:

The Washington Post reports that the impasse between the NFL and the regular officials largely boils down to pensions.

"The league considers the pensions being sought by the referees association too generous, several people with knowledge of the talks said," writes the post. "One person said the referees' pension proposal calls for an annual league contribution of $38,500 per official."

By contrast, the NFL generates nearly $10 billion in revenue annually. So clearly, for Commissioner Roger Goodell, the referee impasse is more about principle than the league's bottom-line.

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