FOXBORO, Mass. — The Atlanta Falcons are the latest team to decry the NFL's not-so-instant replay officiating.
Replay official Joe Gardi took an early touchdown pass away from the Falcons Sunday and the New England Patriots went on to a 25-17 victory over Atlanta.
Gardi reversed the on-field officials' decision that David Archer's 16-yard pass to Arthur Cox was a touchdown, which would have given the Falcons (5-3-1) a 10-0 lead. Gardi ruled only one of Cox's feet touched the ground in the end zone before free safety Fred Marion jarred the ball loose.
"I only saw one foot down," Gardi said. "The third shot (replay) I saw really helped. . . . I was looking at the feet and the ball coming loose."
The drive ended when Mick Luckhurst's 36-yard field-goal attempt went wide to the right. Tony Franklin's 32-yard field goal got the Patriots (6-3) even on the next series.
"If it takes five minutes to look over a play after an official has already made a call, they should leave it alone," Falcons Coach Dan Henning said.
"If the player did not score a touchdown to start with, it's one thing," New England Coach Raymond Berry said. "But if he did or if it's close, maybe they (on-field officials) need some help.
"That's the object, the purpose of replay, to keep an injustice from happening, especially if the injustice is against us."
Atlanta had a 10-9 halftime lead on a one-yard scoring run by Gerald Riggs, but the Patriots rallied in the second half on Irving Fryar's 59-yard punt return for a touchdown and three more field goals by Franklin.
"We got into a situation where Atlanta didn't expect to play catch-up," New England linebacker Don Blackmon said. "But we forced them to."
Franklin's 33-yard field goal, on the Patriots' first possession of the second half, and Fryar's punt return made the score 19-10 and made the Falcons scrap their running game, the most productive in the NFL.
"We just didn't play well in the second half," Atlanta guard Bill Fralic said. "We ran the ball well on them (in the first half), but we weren't in a position to be able to run in the second half. We had to pass and play catch-up and that's not our forte."
Riggs rushed for 99 yards in 26 carries and a pair of touchdowns, but 81 of his yards came in the first half.
New England's Tony Eason, the league's top-ranked passer, completed 15 of 31 passes for 263 yards and a 26-yard scoring throw to Tony Collins.