Published August 09, 2012
SAN DIEGO – Shannon Eastin made history.
Some of the players she was officiating made it look ugly.
Eastin became the first woman to officiate an NFL game, serving as the line judge in the San Diego Chargers' 21-13 preseason victory over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.
The preseason opener for both teams was predictably sloppy at times, filled with fumbles, interceptions and missed assignments.
Philip Rivers had a touchdown, an interception and a fumble in limited action for the Chargers (No. 16 in the AP Pro32). Rookie Jarrett Lee got most of the snaps, throwing for 235 yards and a touchdown.
Aaron Rodgers had an interception and a fumble in three series for the Packers (No. 1).
Eastin turned it into a history-making event merely with her presence.
Among a group of replacement officials working games while the regular refs are locked out, Eastin was dwarfed by the players on San Diego's sideline and had a camera following her every move before the game.
A 16-year officiating veteran, she seemed at ease with the spotlight, staying steady among the giants and the national spotlight. Chargers tackle Jeromey Clary and linebacker Antwan Barnes each sought her out just before the opening kickoff, shaking her hand and saying a few words.
Now Eastin's game cap is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after her first NFL game.
Many of the players still need some work after their first preseason performances.
Rodgers fumbled on Green Bay's first series, setting up a 23-yard touchdown pass from Rivers to Antonio Gates. Green Bay's Diondre Borel fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Chargers recovered, but Tramon Williams stepped in front of Robert Meacham to intercept Rivers' pass two plays later.
The Chargers also lost a fumble on a handoff exchange between Rivers and Michael Hayes on the first play of the next series.
Rivers was 3 for 5 for 37 yards and was done after his fumble.
Rodgers threw for 16 yards on 2-of-8 passing.
Worse yet for the Packers was another injury to a key player.
Green Bay entered the game with 18 players not in uniform and most were because of injuries, including receiver Greg Jennings and left tackle Marshall Newhouse.
The list grew longer early in the first quarter when starting linebacker Desmond Bishop went down after a group of players fell on his right leg while he was finishing a tackle. He was unable to put any weight on his leg while being helped to the sideline.
Chargers starting running back Ryan Matthews also went out in the first quarter with a shoulder injury and didn't return.
Lee, who was undrafted out of LSU, hit Vincent Brown on a 27-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and also helped set up Curtis Brinkley's 1-yard dive that made it 21-13 with just under 2 minutes left. He finished 15 of 22.
Graham Harrell, trying to solidify his spot as the No. 2 quarterback behind Rodgers, had some bad misses early. But he hit Randall Cobb on a 23-yard pass that set up a 3-yard touchdown between the two in the closing seconds of the first half.
He was 15 of 27 for 135 yards.
Replacement officials are working games for the first time in 11 years and have 16 this weekend, including six Thursday night. There have already been some shaky moments.
The crew working the Hall of Fame game last Sunday had mixed reviews and fans in Buffalo booed replacement officials Thursday night after they muffed a touchback call in a game against Washington.
Eastin didn't seem to have any trouble in her first NFL game.
The 42-year-old from Tempe, Ariz., is a referee in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, college football's second-highest level, and owns a company that trains basketball and football officials.
Wearing No. 27 on the back of her official's uniform, Eastin wasn't involved in many calls until flagging San Diego's Patrick Doyle for holding in the third quarter. She heard a few boos from the hometown crowd in the fourth period on a pass interference call on Chargers safety Corey Lynch — she appeared to get it right — and signaled touchdown when Green Bay's Marc Tyler scored on a 1-yard run. Green Bay failed on the 2-point conversion, keeping the Chargers up 14-13.
Eastin signaled TD again when Brinkley scored later, but had a relatively quiet night overall, which, in the world of officiating, can be a good thing.
Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL