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Week 9 “Official Review”: Follow the bouncing ball, spiking out of bounds

The “Official Review” segment returns for week 9 action, with the league’s vice-president of officiating, Mike Pereira, disecting some of the more complicated calls. This week, there were certainly some complex calls (video: part 1 and part 2), which we will leave the most complex one for last:

  • In question was the spotting of the ball in the Cowboys–Eagles game on two different plays. In one case, a player going back for the ball is not awarded forward progress (correctly called), because he was not in contact with the defender, therefore not being pushed back. The second one regarded the fourth-down quarterback sneak by Donovan McNabb. Pereira notes that the center-field logo could be used as a demarcation point, and might have given the Eagles a few extra inches. Typically those few extra inches aren’t given during replay, but in this case, there was a clear placement with relation to an on-field mark. Pereira said the ball should have been moved.
  • On a play in the game with the Steelers,  Brandon Marshall of the Broncos spikes the ball at the end of the play, and somehow avoids being penalized. Since he was out of bounds, he is not causing a delay in spotting the ball, therefore no delay of game penalty is administered.

The most complex play, perhaps of the entire season, involved a down-by-contact ruling at the 1-yard line in the Colts–Texans game (video). So complicating are the circumstances, that it becomes a list onto itself.

  • Ryan Moats of the Texans clearly fumbled the ball prior to going to the ground.
  • With the play dead at 2:25, the Texans opted to run the clock to the two-minute warning, giving the Colts’ coaching staff the entire break to review the play. The coach may challenge the final play prior to the two-minute warning up until the first legal snap after the two-minute warning.
  • It is reasonably clear that Moats did not touch the ball after dropping it. Since his tackler was out of bounds while holding Moats, if Moats touched the ball, the ball would be out of bounds at that spot.
  • Jerraud Powers of the Colts jumps back in bounds to retrieve the ball, but since he does not establish two feet in bounds, he makes the ball dead, and it is still Texans’ ball.
  • However, since the ball is ruled out of bounds on the goal line by an offensive fumble, this becomes a touchback, and in this case, is awarded to the Colts’ at the 20-yard line.

Referee Jeff Triplette goes through a Hochulian effort to explain the call, taking about 40 seconds to describe:

After reviewing the play, the runner does fumble the football prior to being down by contact. The ball stays in bounds. The Indianapolis defender is out of bounds when the ball is laying the goal line, comes back in and, with one foot down, touches the football. Therefore, it is a fumble out of bounds in the end zone. It is a touchback. First and 10, Indianapolis, from the 20-yard line.

A lot of things to watch on that play, but one thing missing from Triplette’s description.

Please reset the game clock to 2:24.

Because the play was ruled dead at that point, the time had to be restored to the clock, even though the two-minute warning had already transpired. It is understandable with so much involved in that play, however once a decision is made, the replay official (in this case, Bob Boylston) and the referee must communicate the down, distance, yard line, and time remaining on all reversals. The time taken to determine the spot and the time remaining consistent with the reversal decision is outside of the referee’s 60-second replay review time.

This is the second time this season that Triplette and Boylston failed to relay this information correctly. We noted in Week 5, that a replay reversal failed to account for the correct spotting of the ball, one of several failure points on the same play. In addition, there are six other officials, one of whom should have confered with Triplette to restore the time consumed.

Tough call on the refs there, especially when they made a difficult decision correctly. But the sloppy bookkeeping on replay reversals must be fixed with this crew.

Ben Austro
Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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One thought on “Week 9 “Official Review”: Follow the bouncing ball, spiking out of bounds

  1. In the complex replay reversal near the end of the Colts vs. Texans game, how convenient is it for the refs to ignore that #41 touched the ball while out of bounds, before the other Colt player jumped back in to touch the ball for a touchback. Reversing the original call and then on top of that, actually ignoring that #41 touched the ball in Pereira’s explanation all show me that these refs will give the popular teams the calls and then try to explain away their favoritism by focusing on whatever it takes to mask their bias or blunder.

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