How hard is it to keep track of time outs in an NFL game? Apparently very hard, at least for the replacement officials working the Cardinals - Seahawks.
With less than a minute left, the Seahawks called a time out near the goal line to re-group and try for a go-ahead touchdown. The referees granted the time out and the Cardinals immediately protested.
The referees then began an extended conference, leaving the viewer to contemplate the question "how can you not keep track of a team's time outs?"
The crux of the problem was a Seahawk injury in the endzone with under 2 minutes left in the games. The replacement crew decided that a time out would not be charged since it was on a completed pass.
According to Fox NFL Rules Analyst Mike Pereira, there is no such thing as not charging a time out because the clock was stopped. On the other hand, there was no reason for an extended deliberation since there is no penalty for asking for a time out you don't have. It was purely an officiating error with no penalty.
In the basketball, calling a time out when you don't have one is a technical foul. There are no technical fouls in football.
Ultimately, the Seahawks failed to convert on their subsequent attempts, but the official ended up granting them an extented time out as they struggled to come up with a rationale for their decision.
This instance falls under the category of "no blood, no foul." It very easily could have directly effected the outcome of the game. It also gave a huge laugh to any neutral observers to happened to catch the final seconds of the game when Fox switched after the 49ers - Packers game.