Football Zebras™

Live blog: Giants at Packers

NFC Divisional Playoff

We will be live blogging the calls and rules interpretations from the Giants-Packers game.

If you have any questions or comments, use the comments section of this post, or tweet us @footballzebras.

Bill Leavy is the referee. Full crew list is at the bottom of the post.

Mon • 1:25 am EDT • Ben Austro

Seahawks at Cardinals (video at :36)

Seahawks kicker Steven Houshka attempts a field goal that ricochets off of the left goalpost and into the arms of Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson. Jefferson started to run with the ball, but the play is dead any time the ball touches the goalposts. The lone exception is a ball may go through the mouth of the goal after hitting the upright and the field goal will count.

Sun • 10:34 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Seahawks at Cardinals

3:42 | 3rd Qtr. No video from the play, but this is how I understand this play: The Cardinals punted with an offensive holding penalty in the end zone. On a punt where the receiving team gets possession (under standard conditions without other complications), the receiving team is allowed to assess a kicking team penalty from the dead-ball spot, in addition to its normal spot specified by the penalty. The Seahawks decided to tack on to the dead-ball spot, rather than the spot of the foul. Had they taken the spot of the foul, it would have been a safety.

The Seahawks got the ball at the Cardinals 45-yard line, rather than taking the two points and losing some field position on the ensuing free kick.

Sun • 8:41 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Raiders at Chargers (video)

The Walt Anderson crew handles this scrum for the loose ball perfectly.  Even though it looks like chaos, there is a science to officials handling such a scrum.

Sun • 7:29 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Cardinals at Seahawks (video)

Seahawks receiver Golden Tate fumbles the ball forward several yards and teammate Jermaine Kearse falls on it.  Side judge Larry Rose and head linesman Tom Stabile award the Seahawks the ball at the Kearse spot.  If it had been fourth down or under two-minutes left in the half, the ball would have been returned to the Seahawks at the spot of the Tate fumble; however since neither of those two conditions were met, the Seahawks gained yardage because of the fumble.  You could see Stabile and Rose confer quickly to make sure they were following the rules properly.

Sun • 6:36 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Steelers at Packers

The blocked Packers field goal with a Steelers penalty is its own post.

Sun • 6:24 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Colts at Chiefs (video)

Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson flagged for a horse collar tackle by head linesman George Hayward.  The NFL has tightened the interpretation of the horse collar tackle over the years, so while this grasp wasn’t directly on the collar between the shoulder blades, it is a flag the NFL wants to see.

Sun • 3:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Dolphins at Bills (video)

Bills wide receiver Robert Woods is ejected from the game for landing a right hook in a pile after a routine run. Umpire Garth DeFelice corralled Woods and sent him out before Clete Blakeman announced the ejection.

Sun • 2:55 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Browns at Jets (video)

Josh Gordon cannot control a 4th and goal touchdown pass.  The side judge initially ruled Gordon out of bounds.  On replay Gordon did get both feet down in bounds, but head linesman Dana McKenzie ruled that Gordon juggled the ball.  On the video you can see McKenzie making the emphatic “juggling” signal.

Sun • 2:10 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Titans at Jaguars (video)

Jaguars center Brad Meester catches his first ever pass.  Meester lines up as a tight end.  This is a legal play as long as Meester reports to the referee as an eligible receiver, and the referee then announces that the ineligible receiver is eligible for this down.  This play is illegal in NCAA and high school football rules since Meester is wearing an ineligible receiver number (50-79), but legal in the NFL – as long as Meester reports.

Sun • 1:51 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Colts at Chiefs

12:47 | 2nd qtr.  Colts quarterback Andrew Luck if flushed out of the pocket.  He throws the ball away with no receiver in sight.  Head linesman George Hayward runs to referee Tony Corrente to inform him no receiver was in the vicinity.  Corrente rules that Luck was out of the pocket, thus no intentional grounding flag.  Kansas City could not challenge the “no grounding” call, but the Chiefs did challenge the play thinking that Luck’s knee was down.  After a review, Corrente did rule that Luck’s knee was down.  So, while there was no intentional grounding call, the Chiefs did get the sack.

Sun • 1:02 pm EDT • Football Zebras staff

Today’s referee assignments

Sun • 10:51 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bengals at Steelers (video)

huber destroyedAnother play involving the Bengals punter. On a touchdown return, punter Kevin Huber was leveled, fracturing his jaw either when he was hit or as he hit the ground.

Punters and kickers have special protections, and are considered one of the 10 players that are defined in the rules as being in a defenseless posture (this applies from the kick through any return). With that, rule 12-2-7(b):

Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is:

(1)  Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder … .

It is a little difficult to see at game speed, but it is definitely a forceable blow with the helmet to the neck area. This should have been a 15-yard foul from the spot of the infraction, which would have erased the Steelers touchdown.

Referee Ed Hochuli has responsibility over the punter, but on a long runback, he transitions to make a call at the goal line.

Sun • 9:02 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bengals at Steelers (video)

The Bengals botched a snap, and punter Kevin Huber had the ball at the 1-yard line, and was tackled in the end zone. They ruled it was down at the 1 and not a safety, because the ball did not break the plane of the goal line at the point when forward progress is stopped.

It was challengeable if the Bengals wanted to make it a safety and kick off to the Steelers. It is not a booth review, because it is not a scoring play; loss on downs is not a turnover that allows for a replay-official-initiated challenge.

Sun • 8:30 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Cowboys (video)

An apparent interception by the Packers was ruled incomplete, but it was overturned in replay. Since the clock was under two minutes, it was under the jurisdiction of the replay official, who was waiting for a replay angle to initiate a challenge. The Cowboys were cognizant of that fact, and raced to the line to snap the ball, thus freezing out any chance of reviewing the incompletion/interception.

The replay official got the call in just in time, and Fox Sports commentator Troy Aikman roasted the replay official for his “inexcusable” delay in calling for a review. In actuality, it was Aikman’s director who was not serving up the angle necessary for the replay official to call a challenge.

Is that a problem? Apparently not, in the league’s eyes. When he was vice-president of officiating, Carl Johnson said

TV networks aren’t obligated to show significant replays or any types of replays.

I think that the replay official and both teams should have all-angle access if we are going to make this a game of frames, instead of a game of inches.

Sun • 7:41 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Cowboys (video)

Head linesman Jerry Bergman jumps in to break up the fracas after a Packers touchdown.

Sun • 6:58 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jets at Panthers (video)

Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn runs back a Jets interception for a touchdown. While celebrating in the end zone, he slides, and his teammates celebrate over him. As soon as Munnerlyn goes to the ground in celebration, it is an unsportsmanlike conduct/taunting foul, which is assessed on the kickoff. The only exceptions are if a player obviously falls unintentionally, or if he goes to his knees in a prayer-like pose, neither of which applied here.

Back judge Lee Dyer kept his eye on the action throughout.

Sun • 6:29 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chiefs at Raiders (video)

The Chiefs’ Eric Berry runs back an interception for a touchdown, forcing umpire Garth DeFelice and referee Clete Blakeman to bust to the goal line and stay out of everyone’s way at the same time.

Sun • 6:12 pm EDT • Ben Austro

49ers at Buccaneers (image)

49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, upset over an incomplete pass, picked up the ball and heaved it. It goes beyond the “spiking the ball” delay of game foul, and it was rightly called as unsportsmanlike conduct. However, the spot of enforcement is confusing.

Scott Green’s crew is ruling Crabtree’s action to be between downs, which means that any live-ball and dead-ball fouls associated with the down are enforced, which establishes what the next down is. Then, the between-downs fouls are enforced, which applies to the new spot. Apparently the determination of between downs was made because the Crabtree threw the ball while Green was announcing a live-ball penalty, which absolutely places the foul in between-downs time.

The live ball foul was a 5-yard defensive offside. That foul is enforced (it may also be declined, because it is being handled alone), giving the 49ers a 1st-and-5. Then, the between-downs unsportsmanlike is 15 yards from that spot, leading to a 1st-and-20.

If the crew determined that Crabtree’s actions were part of the continuing action of the previous down, it falls into a 5 vs. 15 enforcement — an unusual corner of the rulebook. Since the offsides is a “simple 5” (no loss of down, no automatic first down, no 10-second runoff; just 5 yards), the 5 yarder is picked up by rule, and the 15 yarder is enforced. In this case, the 5-yard live-ball foul goes away, and the 15-yard dead-ball foul stays. This would have resulted in a 2nd-and-25 (the incomplete pass would have counted).

I don’t have enough of the play to comment on the dead-ball vs. between-downs call, so I will update if I see more.

h/t GIFD Sports

Sun • 4:53 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Saints at Rams

5:26 | 1st qtr.  Rams’ quarterback Kellen Clemens slides after a scramble to “give himself up.”  Two Saints defenders land on Clemons drawing a personal foul.  Once a quarterback slides feet-first, he cannot be hit.  It was a tight call, but by the letter of the rule it was there.

Sun • 4:45 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Redskins at Falcons (video)

Gene Steratore’s crew has to rule on three fumbles during three consecutive plays. 

Sun • 4:33 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Texans at Colts (video)

Jerome Boger holds the whistle and lets the play finish as the Colts strip Texans’ quarterback Case Keenum at the goal line.  The Texans scramble to fall on the ball in the end zone for a safety.

Sun • 4:28 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bills at Jaguars (video)

Denard Robinson of the Jaguars is running for a touchdown, when he is stripped of the ball short of the goal line.  The ball rolls out the end of the end zone for a touchback.  Deep officials Tom Hill, Greg Steed and Scott Steenson make the call.

Sun • 4:23 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Seahawks at Giants (video)

Head linesman John McGrath nails this Luke Willson toe tap on the sideline.

Sun • 4:17 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Cold weather gear has come a long way to help officials stay warm and safe during the game.

Sun • 2:01 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Washington at Atlanta (video)

Falcons running back Steven Jackson bowls over Washington cornerback Josh Wilson en route to a 3-yard touchdown. Jackson lowered his head, but initiated contact with his shoulder, instead of an illegal crown-of-the-helmet hit. It would be a borderline call if Jackson lead with the crown, because he is going for the goal line, and that would cast doubt on the “squaring up the opponent” aspect of the crown rule. The run is slightly outside of the tackle box, even though it is within three yards of the line of scrimmage. However, the tackle box is not an obvious demarcated line during live action, so it could also be close enough to get a non-call in this hypothetical situation.

Sun • 12:46 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Saints at Rams

Mike Carey’s crew is in St. Louis. Scheduled to join the crew for the first time in over a month is umpire Chad Brown, who has been out with an unspecified injury.

Sun • 12:45 pm EDT • Football Zebras staff

Today’s officiating assignments

Sun • 9:01 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Seahawks at 49ers (video)

A blocked punt was turned into a slight advantage for the Seahawks. One of the Seahawks special teamers intentionally bats the ball forward. This is a foul, but the 49ers could only replay the down if they accepted the penalty. Instead, they took the point of recovery, which gave the Seahawks about 15 yards in field position.

Sun • 7:07 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Rams at Cardinals (image)

Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett stepped on the hand on the Rams guard Chris Williams. Had this been seen, it would have been an easy 15-yard penalty. Dockett will get the FedEx docket, docking his pay this week.

h/t Deadspin

Sun • 6:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Browns at Patriots (video at 2:44)

The Browns are called for defensive pass interference where there is no clear restriction or redirection of the receiver. This placed the ball on the 1-yard line, setting up the game-winning score.

Sun • 6:15 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Titans at Broncos (video)

Matt Prater kicks his way into history, nailing a 64-yard field goal as the half expires.  Officials always enjoy taking part in historic moments, and Boris Cheek and Scott Helverson have the honor is signaling the historic field goal.

Sun • 6:01 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Rams at Cardinals (video)

The deep wings initially rule a Cardinals TD, but Walt Coleman over-rules the play.  The reason why the Rams get a touchback instead of the return is because the officials killed the play, blew the whistle and ruled TD.  So on replay, Coleman has to give the Rams the ball at the spot of recovery, thus a touchback, take it to the 20, then enforce the personal foul.  Tough one to sort out, but Coleman handled it correctly.

Sun • 5:12 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Dolphins at Steelers

The multiple lateral play that field judge Scott Edwards ruled out of bounds is now its own post.

Sun • 4:48 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Vikings at Ravens (video)

Rob Vernatchi (#75) and rookie back judge Dale Shaw (#104) team up on this game-winning toe-tapping touchdown, on an icy end-line with only a few seconds to go. 

Sun • 4:41 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Lions at Eagles (video)

Even a measurement is a challenge with several inches of snow on the ground. That chain has to be flat.

Sun • 3:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Colts at Bengals

The controversial review that gave the Bengals a touchdown is its own post.

Sun • 3:51 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Lions at Eagles

8:50 | 4th qtr.  Ed Hochuli with the honesty award of the day.  The Eagles have the ball inside the Lions’ five yard line.  Hochuli turns on the microphone and says, “Officials’ time-out to clean the snow off of the goal line.  We can’t see the goal line.”  The ground crew comes out with their blowers and cleans off the goal line.

Sun • 3:44 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Dolphins at Steelers (video)

Referee John Parry properly over-rules a call by head linesman Derick Bowers and side judge Joe Larrew and awards the Dolphins’ Brian Hartline a well-deserved touchdown.

Sun • 3:10 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Lions at Eagles (video)

4:05 | 3rd qtr.  Hochuli lets an Eagles touchdown stand, after reviewing if the Eagles’ receiver went out the back of the endzone.  It was impossible to tell, even with the snow swept off of the lines.  This game is like the games you played in the back yard as a kid!

Updated to include video.

Sun • 3:05 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Vikings at Ravens (video)

When the snow flies, there are protocols at all NFL fields to try and make the field markings visible to aid the players, officials and fans.  Players have to make sure they stay out of the way of the ground crew!

Sun • 2:54 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Lions at Eagles

On a day like today, the officials have to be careful to keep their footing.  If they slip, they run the risk of pulling muscles in their legs. 

Sun • 2:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Lions at Eagles

fox snow numbersI have wondered for at least a decade why the broadcast networks didn’t superimpose yard-line  numbers on the snow, when they have had the technology from the First and Ten system (and other proprietary graphics systems). Closest I have seen was marking the goal line with a yellow line, but Fox has implemented this in the Lions-Eagles and the Vikings-Ravens game. CBS will probably be broadcasting its last snow game without the graphics; today’s games in Pittsburgh and Washington do not have this feature, and they likely will implement this for their next foul-weather game.

There is the ability to show the hash marks in the graphics as well, but they would be unofficial for replay purposes, just as the first-down graphic is.

Fox Sports/NFL, h/t Deadspin

Sun • 1:32 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The weather outside is … delightful!

phila snowEast Coast is being hit with a winter storm system. There is snow in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington. The Jets kicked off with no snow, but it’s snowing around Exit 9 of the New Jersey Turnpike. Patriots may also have some snow in the second half.

I believe this shot is from Philadelphia, but it is so hard to see anything to actually tell for certain.

h/t @bubbaprog/Mocksession

Sun • 1:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

mandellaTeams are observing a moment of silence to remember the anti-apartheid leader.

h/t @Patriots

Sun • 12:46 pm EDT • Football Zebras staff

This week’s referee assignments

Sun • 11:32 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Giants @ Redskins

The yard-to-gain equipment was moved incorrectly by the Linesman when Referee Jeff Triplette #42 signaled 3rd down after the chains were moved.  Play continued and then the down was reverted to 4th after it was clearly not a first down.  A game changing decision that was incorrectly handled by the officiating crew as well as an abundant amount of confusion visually observed between the Linesman and Line Judge.  Play should have been stopped for a measurement.  

Sun • 10:45 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Giants @ Redskins

Referee Jeff Triplette #42 correctly ruled video replay inconclusive on a Giants touchdown run moments ago.  In order to overturn a ruling on the field, there must be conclusive video evidence and in this situation there clearly was not.  

Sun • 4:38 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Falcons at Bills (video)

C.J. Spiller cracks off a 77-yard run.  It is up to the back judge to be at the goal line to rule on whether or not the runner breaks the plane.  Good job by back judge, Dino Paganelli (subbing for Billy Smith) to haul down the field in an attempt to stay ahead of Spiller.

Sun • 4:27 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Jaguars at Browns (video)

Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden kicks the ball out of the end zone after a bad snap.  Referee Bill Leavy on the call.

Sun • 3:32 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Chicago @ Minnesota (video)

Minnesota Vikings player Chris Cook #20 has been penalized and ejected for Unsportmanlike Conduct for making contact after a play with Side Judge Laird Hayes #125.  Players know anytime intentional contact is made with an official it is an automatic disqualification and I am sure a fine will be impending.  

Updated to include video.

Sun • 3:12 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bears at Vikings (video)

5:15 | 3rd qtr.  Laird Hayes makes a terrific touchdown call on an amazing catch by Alshon Jeffrey.  After the touchdown, Hayes ejects the Vikings Chris Cook for making contact with him.

Updated to include video.  You can’t tell by this angle, but subsequent angles show Cook grabbing a fist-full of Hayes’ shirt and giving him a small shove.

Sun • 3:01 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Buccaneers at Panthers (video)

Nice work by head linesman Jim Howey and line judge Gary Arthur on ruling a touchdown as Cam Newton stretches the ball over the goal line.  Once Newton reached the ball across the line, it didn’t matter what happened after that. 

Sun • 2:49 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bears at Vikings (video)

Cordarrelle Patterson give field judge Jeff Lamberth a “low five” after scoring a touchdown.  Lamberth initially didn’t offer his hand, but then smiled and allowed Patterson to give him five.  In my opinion this did not detract from the dignity of the officials and allows the officials to act like human beings for a split second. 

Sun • 2:28 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Chicago @ Minnesota

Booth review initiated in Minnesota for to check a forward progress spot.  Referee Carl Cheffers has ruled that the line to gain had not been reached due to the catch not being completed until both feet touch inbounds which was visually observed to be short of the line to gain.  Correct ruling by the officiating crew.  

Sun • 2:14 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Bears @ Vikings (Photo)

Minnesota Vikings player, Cordarrelle Patterson, proceeds to give Field Judge Jeff Lambeth #21 a “low-five” after he scores a touchdown.  

Sun • 12:51 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Titans at Colts

Umpire Roy Ellison returns to the field after serving a one-week suspension for his treatment of Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams. The officials union filed a grievance, and issued the following statement from its executive director, Jim Quirk Sr.:

The NFL’s decision to suspend Mr. Ellison creates a double standard for what is acceptable on field conduct. The League insists that officials are held to a “high standard” but others involved in the game are held to no standard. Apparently the NFL accepts and condones a culture where players, coaches and teams can use racial slurs and profanity toward each other and at Officials. Music played in locker rooms and in the stadiums before games include racial slurs (including the N-word) and references to sexual violence with impunity. These types of cheap slurs and racial banter on the field often lead to angry and emotional responses which can result in fighting and injury. This is completely contrary to the atmosphere of sportsmanship and respect the League says should exist in the game.

Sun • 12:46 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Quick calls from Thanksgiving are in a separate post.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin earned his own post when he stepped on the field on Thursday night.

Sun • 12:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Today’s referee assignments

Fri • 1:24 am EDT • Ben Austro

Steelers at Ravens (video)

A Steelers field goal attempt by Shaun Suisham went haywire, as Suisham started his kicking approach too soon. A review of the play shows Suisham’s movement was fairly simultaneous to the snap when viewed at regular speed. It would have been illegal motion if Suisham had preceded the snap. A false start is also possible if the defense jumps on the movement, but the kicker’s action really has to simulate the snap. Also, the defense is likely watching the offensive line and the holder, although I wouldn’t preclude them from acting on something found in film study of the kicker’s pre-snap quirks.

Fri • 12:59 am EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Lions

From the comments:

  • Bruce Maggs says:
    November 28, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Packers-Lions game: three penalties are called on the same play, offensive holding, defensive holding, and personal foul on the defense (late hit). The late hit occurs after the receiver has stepped out of bounds. Referees rule that all fouls offset. But the personal foul penalty occurred after the play, and wouldn’t normally be offset by an offensive foul that occurs during the play, right?

With few exceptions, live-ball and dead-ball fouls combine to offset. There can be 5 live-ball fouls by one team and 1 dead-ball foul by the other; it all combines to offset and replay the down. If all the fouls are dead-ball fouls, they offset as well, but the down counts. (Bill Leavy’s crew mixed this up in Week 1.)

Now to the exceptions to live + dead = offset + replay the down:

  • Fouls that are not part of the continuing action are between-downs fouls (12 men in offensive huddle). Fights that occur after a play are pegged to the previous down, although it is possible in unusual circumstances for it to occur in between-downs time.
  • All fouls against officials are between-downs fouls. Any live/dead ball fouls are sorted out first, then fouls against officials are assessed.
  • If one team has committed a 15-yard foul, and the other team commits a simple 5-yard foul, the 5-yard foul is disregarded, and the 15-yarder is enforced. To be a “simple” 5-yarder, it must not have loss of down, automatic first down, or a 10-second runoff. Also, the team that commits the simple-5 may not have any other penalty — but the team with the 15 can have any number of penalties (only one 15 is assessed).

Fri • 12:18 am EDT • Ben Austro

Steelers at Ravens

bell helmetSteelers running back Le’Veon Bell was ruled to have scored a touchdown, but it was overturned on replay because his helmet came off as he was hit at the goal line.

Once the ball carrier’s helmet comes off, the play is immediately dead, even if the continuing action (in this case, Bell falling forward) places the runner in the end zone. It is a bright line with no subjectivity.

It is a reviewable play, and the point when the helmet completely separates from the head is the point when the ball is declared dead.

It is legal for any other of the 21 players on the field to lose a helmet, and they may legally participate in the play. In this case, a player who doesn’t have the ball is not inherently a target.

This was not a helmet-to-helmet personal foul, nor was this a crown-of-the-helmet rule on either player. It was a legal hit in an attempt for one player to gain an extra yard and another to deny him of it.

Thu • 11:48 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Steelers at Ravens

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin luckily avoided a bench foul (see the full post).

Thu • 10:39 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Steelers @ Ravens

Mike Tomlin should have been flagged 15-yards for Unsportmanlike Conduct for stepping on the field, which, from the replay I viewed looked like a deliberate move.  

Thu • 4:37 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Raiders at Cowboys (video)

14:48 | 1st qtr. Tough replay for referee Scott Green on the opening kickoff, fumble, and Raiders touchdown.  In my opinion there wasn’t conclusive evidence to overturn the original call.

Thu • 3:31 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Packers at Lions (video)

4:08 | 4th qtr. A great TD catch by the Lions’ Ogletree makes for a great call for side judge Mike Weatherford (#116).

Updated to include video.

Thu • 3:20 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Packers at Lions 13:38 | 4th qtr.

#38 of the Packers, Travon Williams, is lucky he’s still in the game.  He was jawing with a Lions’ player.  Back judge Dino Paganelli stepped in between them, and Williams gently pushed Paganelli out of the way.  Williams received an unsportsmanlike conduct foul, but I’ve seen less actions against an official result in a player ejection.

Thu • 2:58 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Lions

The replay booth, under two minutes, called for a review of a play where the Lions spiked the ball to stop the clock. The Packers had 12 men on the field for the play (the 12th player was exiting, but couldn’t get to the sideline). The 12-men penalty is one that is specifically written into the replay rules. Other fouls are allowable due to other reviewable circumstances, either to call a penalty or to pick up a flag. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it includes:

  • illegal touching of a pass, either to determine first touching or if a player stepped out of bounds
  • if a receiver is re-established in bounds or not, which determines illegal touch or incomplete pass
  • illegal touching of a kick, such as the kicking team touching a kickoff prior to going 10 yards
  • tipping or not tipping a pass, which affects if pass interference is called or reversed (referee must announce if pass interference is not called as result of a suspected tipped ball)
  • touching of a punt as related to running into or roughing the kicker (referee must announce if the foul is not called due to suspected touched ball)
  • illegal forward pass as it relates to the line of scrimmage
  • illegal forward pass if a lateral goes forward

Thu • 1:40 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Lions

Line judge Jeff Seeman (number 45) is working today’s game, four days after the death of his father, Jerry Seeman. Jerry was the senior director of officiating (the title became vice-president under his successor, Mike Pereira) as well as a referee.

We updated Jerry Seeman’s obituary with more of his pre-NFL career.

Thu • 1:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

This week’s referee assignments

Mon • 12:38 am EDT • Ben Austro

After Further Review is on hiatus

Look for the feature to return in Week 14.

Mon • 12:06 am EDT • Michael Leptic

Broncos @ Patriots (video)

Overtime coin toss even has Referee Gene Steratore questioning the Patriots’ decision to defend after winning the toss.  

Sun • 10:03 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Cowboys at Giants (video)

Excellent whistle control and discipline by line judge Byron Boston and, especially, field judge Buddy Horton on this Giants touchdown.  The receiver was never touched down, so he got up and walked into the end zone.

Sun • 9:52 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Jets at Ravens (video)

The Jets’ bench gets called for unsportsmanlike conduct for being outside the team box during the play.  The white area must be free of all coaches, substitutes and other people during the live ball.  The officials need that area to officiate the play and get to safety in case the play comes their way.

While it may seem like a picky rule, it is vitally important for the safety of the officials and the sideline personnel at all levels of football.

Sun • 9:03 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Broncos @ Patriots 

Update 9:18PM EST – Referee Gene Steratore just announced that the game clock is malfunctioning as well.  Both the game clock and play clock will be kept on the field until the situation is resolved.

Due to a play clock malfunction, Referee Gene Steratore announced that the play clock will be kept on the field.  Typically in this situation, the Back Judge will keep track of the play clock and give a signal when the clock gets to a certain amount to alert the offense of time remaining.  

Sun • 7:39 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Cowboys @ Giants

Dallas Cowyboys WR Dez Bryant’s “catch” ruled incomplete due to control not being maintained through the entire process of the catch, per Referee Walt Anderson.  Being under two minutes in the 4th quarter, the booth should have reviewed the play, in my opinion.  

Sun • 6:04 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Colts at Cardinals (video)

The Cardinals score on a pick-six and the crew has to throw all of their mechanics in reverse.  Referee Bill Leavy goes into self-preservation mode, dodging flying players on the way to the goal-line.

Sun • 5:30 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bears at Rams (video)

Field judge Dyrol Prioleau with a very tight touchdown call.  On this play, Prioleau has to be looking in two places at the same time – he has to look at the runner’s knee to see if he’s down. then he also has to look at the ball to see if it broke the plane of the goal line.  Dives into the end zone like this one are very difficult to call.

Sun • 5:17 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Vikings at Packers

This is the first time in NFL history the a game ended as a tie in overtime, with a score (actually two) happening in the overtime period.  The Packers scored a field goal during their first possession in overtime to take a 26-23 lead.  Under the modified overtime rules, the Vikings were allowed a possession to either tie the score back up or win with a touchdown.  The Vikings were able to march down on their next possession, kick a field goal, and re-tied the game 26-26.  The next score of any type would win the game for either team – except there was no more scoring. 

Sun • 5:13 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Steelers at Browns (video)

Josh Gordon gets two feet down in bounds on a great catch.  Initially side judge James Coleman ruled Gordon out of bounds.  Head linesman Greg Bradley comes in to discuss the call with Coleman.  The two officials then rightly changed the call to a catch.  Note that Bradley talked to Coleman first, instead of flying in and overruling Coleman.  Coleman did a good job checking his ego at the door in order to get the call right.

If there is one minor criticism of Coleman, it is that he had to turn, run and look over his shoulder in order to keep the cushion between Gordon and the goal line.  But, when dealing with world-class speedsters, sometimes it is hard for a middle-aged man to keep that cushion.  Coleman did his best and Bradley stepped up to help bail his colleague out.

Sun • 4:58 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chargers at Chiefs (video)

Phillip Rivers is working the sideline officials for a late hit flag.  Chiefs head coach Andy Reid employs a basketball move and boxes out Rivers!  Bizarre moment but fortunately it didn’t lead to anything else.

Sun • 3:25 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Explanation is Key (video)

In lieu of the situation that occurred during MNF last week prompted Dean Blandino to reiterate the fact that the referee must explain situations in detail so no questions remain.  



Sun • 2:12 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Chicago @ St. Louis (video)

Conference in St. Louie due to multiple live and dead ball penalties against Chicago… Intentional Grounding against Chicago is declined, Personal Foul Facemask against Chicago is declined, and a Personal Foul for Unnecessary Roughness for contact against a defenseless defender on the ground is accepted and a 15-yard penalty is enforced.  

Great job to Jerome Boger and crew for grouping together and sorting out the confusion.  Teamwork at its best!  

Updated at 6:45 ET to include video

Sun • 1:45 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Jets at Ravens

Great job to Jeff Triplette and crew for huddling to discuss a late flag that was initially thrown for a Personal Foul on a defenseless receiver.  The contact was clearly legal and after discussion, the flag was picked up.

Sun • 1:21 pm EDT • Michael Leptic

Thank you, Ben for the introduction as a new contributor.  I am honored to be part of such a great website and will contribute all I can to make the website even better!  

Sun • 1:18 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Welcome our new contributor

I am away visiting family for the Thanksgiving week, so I will be checking in sporadically. Mark Schultz will lead the coverage.

I would like to take this time to introduce our new contributor, Michael Leptic. Michael founded the Behind the Football Stripes website, which provided the seed for the forum of the same name. The forum is now under the Football Zebras umbrella. Michael is a high-school official who has worked all seven crew positions. This will be a trial by fire for Michael, so excuse our dust while we get up to speed.

Michael will be a fantastic addition to our site as we enter the playoff race and the postseason. Welcome, Michael!

Sun • 12:51 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Chargers at Chiefs

royellisonWalt Coleman’s umpire, Roy Ellison, was suspended for “profane and derogatory comments” made during last Sunday’s game. Rich Hall (number 48) substitutes from Ed Hochuli’s crew, which has the week off.

Sun • 12:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

This week’s referee assignments

Mon • 12:35 am EDT • Ben Austro

Ravens at Bears

Umpire Bill Schuster was seen exiting the field into the tunnel during the game. A league source said, “Schuster missed one play and then returned to the game.”

Sun • 7:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cardinals at Jaguars

The Jaguars threw a challenge flag because they felt that the Cardinals did not recover a fumble. Jaguars were charged a timeout for an impermissible challenge. There is no yardage penalty for such a challenge unless the team is out of timeouts.

The replay official is not frozen out of reviewing the play, as the rule read last year, but in this case he is not compelled to review a play just because the coach threw a red flag.

Update 11:02 p.m. ET :

I didn’t see this particular play, but I have more information. I was under impression that the sideline was involved in the fumble recovery, but it was not.

In this case, you cannot challenge who recovers a loose ball. Only a fumble with a clear recovery can be challenged. Both elements have to be part of the challenge, not either/or. The exception is fumble out of bounds, because that touches a different part of the replay rules.

Jaguars would be allowed to pick up the challenge flag because it is not a reviewable situation, having nothing to do with the turnover. Coaches are not penalized for challenging a play when it is outside of the scope of replay, as long as the referee judges that the coach is not just wasting time. Dean Blandino told us in the offseason that this is up to the referee’s discretion.

So, the officials may have erred in penalizing the Jaguars a timeout for the challenge. We are going to check if a red-flag pickup is allowed on a non-challegable play. There is no clear direction on which one takes precedence, but I would guess that the NFL would lean on no penalty. My thought was that the officials penalized as soon as the red-flag came out, not based on the coach’s verbal challenge request.

All that considered, please, Coach, do not throw the challenge flag on a turnover!

Sun • 6:57 pm EDT • Ben Austro

49ers at Saints (video)

How does 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick offset an interception? By forcing a fumble on the same play and creating a turnover back to the 49ers.

On the interception return, Saints cornerback Corey White was tackled by Kaepernick at the 1-yard line. Referee Tony Corrente, whose responsibility during “reverse mechanics” it  is to make the call at the goal line, ruled that White fumbled prior to being ruled down.  Since the fumble went through the end zone, the ball, by rule, returns to the 49ers as a touchback — 1st and 10 at the 20.

While this is not a recovered turnover, it is in the replay rules as being under the jurisdiction of the replay official (rules include fumble/backwards pass recovered or out of bounds in end zone, interception, and muffed scrimmage kick recovery). Saints coach Sean Payton challenged the call, and was charged a timeout by the rule. (If the Saints were out of timeouts, it would have been a 15-yard penalty, giving the 49ers the ball at the 35-yard line.) The replay official did uphold the call on the field.

Sun • 5:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Washington at Philadelphia (postgame interview video)

Washington offensive tackle Trent Williams is accusing umpire Roy Ellison (Williams identified him as number 81) of calling him a “garbage ass disrespectful motherfucker” during the game.

Referee Walt Coleman declined comment to a pool reporter.

Update, 9:15 p.m.: A league spokesman told Football Zebras, “We are aware of Trent Williams’ comments and are looking into the matter.”

h/t CSN Washington.

Sun • 5:40 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

49ers at Saints (video)

Nice job by back judge Greg Wilson to hold the whistle on that muffed punt. 

Sun • 5:29 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Ravens at Bears (video)

Joe Flacco is intercepted for a pick-six and referee Gene Steratore does a good job wheeling out of the way at close range.

Sun • 5:26 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Vikings at Seahawks (video)

Jerome Boger makes a tight pass/fumble call on Christian Ponder.  Referees have routinely said that the pass/fumble call on the quarterback is the most difficult one they have to make.

Sun • 4:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cardinals at Jaguars (video)

babin dreadlocksJaguars defensive lineman Jason Babin emerged from a pile with a handful of Andre Ellington’s dreadlocks. It is perfectly legal to tackle and pull the hair that sticks out of the helmet — it is considered a part of the uniform as far as the rules go. Also, player can be ruled out of bounds by the hair, but not down by contact. It also is not part of a horse-collar tackle.

If pulling the hair was made a foul, it would give a tremendous advantage by adding an untouchable area to the player. The player makes a personal choice in his grooming habits, clearly aware of the fact that it generally works to his detriment.

That said, it looks like Ellington, the Cardinals running back who was apparently scalped, uses hair extensions, seeing as there was not skin and blood also yanked out of the helmet. But, still … owwwwwwwwww!

Image: SB Nation

Sun • 1:57 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Ravens at Bears (video)

Severe weather rolls in to Soldier Field, leading to a suspension of the game. In this case, referee Gene Steratore coordinated with the highest ranking official on site to make the decision to stop the game at 4:51 in the 1st quarter.

chi storm comingchi storm clouds steratore weather
h/t Peggy Kuscinski/NBC Chicago, @WorldofIsaac, @SportingBecky

Sun • 1:31 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Colts at Titans (video)

TEN kickoff no teeThe Titans performed an onside kick by placing the ball right on the turf without a tee. This is a legal play, as long as the ball has not already been placed on the tee. (Once a ball has been placed on a tee, the tee cannot be moved.) The ball can also be placed on the turf and touching the tee in a nonstandard position, as long as the tee itself is in its normal upright position.

Also, a dropkick is legal for a kickoff. For a safety kick, the options are punt, dropkick or a tee-less placekick.

Sun • 12:57 pm EDT • Ben Austro

This week’s referee assignments

Sun • 10:29 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Raiders at Giants (video)

On an interception return, referee Pete Morelli reverses direction and stays out of the way by running down the middle of the field. Then, as Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas cuts to the middle of the field, Morelli suddenly finds himself in the truck lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike. Quick adjustment to let them pass, then halts as they come back again. This seems fairly routine, but there is a lot of awareness by Morelli to stay out of the path of the runner and those that are pursuing. Usually, this is only noticed when an official gets mixed up in the play.

Sun • 10:12 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jaguars at Titans (video)

Titans complete a pass to their own 2-yard line, but commit a holding penalty in the end zone. A spot foul in your own end zone is ruled a safety.

Sun • 8:11 pm EDT • Ben Austro

 Broncos at Chargers (4th qtr | 11:19)

ref_tippedballA pass to Chargers tight end Antonio Gates in the end zone was incomplete with a pass interference flag thrown. However, before Gates was interfered with, Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard was able to tip the ball. Once a ball is tipped, the rules for pass interference are disregarded, unless the action occurs prior to the tipped ball. The rationale for the rule is that, since the pass is no longer traveling in the way it left the passer’s arm, players are going to be scrambling on the misdirection, and it would lead to a cheap foul. It does not matter if the flight of the ball is materially altered — any tip will negate pass interference and ineligible receiver penalties.

Sun • 7:25 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Eagles at Packers (video at 3:21)

nelson trapAn incomplete end zone pass to Packers receiver Jordy Nelson was challenged by coach Mike McCarthy. On the review, the ball is seen touching the ground under Nelson, but that is not enough to make the ball incomplete. If the ground plays a part in securing the ball or maintaining control for the receiver, then it is incomplete.

As Nelson slides on the ground, the ball does move enough to demonstrate a lack of control. At the least, there has to be enough definitive evidence to reverse to a completion, and that is not the case here.

Mike Carey had the call, and his review last week of a Seahawks catch was likely on this week’s training tape and likely in the back of his mind.

Sun • 5:21 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Panthers at 49ers (video)

A very interesting play in San Francisco as the Panthers block a 49ers punt.  The blocked punt goes beyond the line of scrimmage where it is muffed by the Panthers and recovered by the 49ers for a fresh series of downs.  Once a scrimmage kick (punt or field goal attempt) goes beyond the line of scrimmage, regular touching rules apply – even if the kick is blocked behind the line of scrimmage.

Sun • 4:29 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bengals at Ravens  (video)

The Bengals went backwards in the last minute of regulation, then convert a Hail Mary at the gun to force overtime.  Side judge Tom Hill (subbing for Rick Patterson on Walt Coleman’s crew today) made the call.  Officials have to be ready for everything on every play.

updated to include video

Sun • 2:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Eagles at Packers (video)

This completion by Packers receiver Jarrett Boykin should have been ruled incomplete. His arm touches out of bounds prior to the second foot coming down in bounds. The Eagles did not challenge the call.

Sun • 2:34 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Eagles at Packers

This is a running play stopped in the backfield.  Someone should have caught this facemask.  (h/t to @sportingbecky for screen grab


Sun • 2:29 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Eagles at Packers (video)

Last week, Ron Winter had to get out of everyone’s way on a long interception return.  This week, Mike Carey had to dodge the traffic.

Sun • 1:35 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Rams at Colts (video)

Referee Terry McAulay and umpire Scott Dawson have to wheel about and chase the Rams’ Chris Long into the endzone on this scoop and score.

Sun • 1:09 pm EDT • Ben Austro

This week’s officiating assignments

Mon • 10:33 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bears at Packers

Buddy Horton needed to use more emphatic signals when the Packers recovered the surprise onside kick early in the third quarter.  I’m not looking for hot-dogging, jumping around and waving frantically, but his signals didn’t inspire confidence as all heck broke loose.

Mon • 11:22 am EDT • Ben Austro

Suggest a call from this weekend’s games for our officiating Roundtable in the comments section. We will pick a few interesting calls for our panel to review.

Sun • 11:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Colts at Texans

On a second quarter fumble recovery by the Colts, the call was overturned by referee Bill Vinovich. He declared that the ball hit an out-of-bounds player’s foot when it was loose. I looked at it several times, and could not see the foot come into play. This should have been ruled “inconclusive,” as no angle or combination of angles gives the level of evidence required for a reversal.

Sun • 11:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Colts at Texans

On a first quarter punt rush, Texans linebacker Bryan Braman appears to have partially blocked a punt by Pat McAfee. On closer inspection, Braman did not touch the ball, but contacted McAfee’s kicking leg. This should have been a running into the kicker penalty, because Braman did not touch the ball. It was the 5-yard minor foul, and not the 15-yard major foul, according to Rule 12-2-10:

Item 1: Roughing the kicker. It is a foul for roughing the kicker if a defensive player:
(a) contacts the plant leg of the kicker while his kicking leg is still in the air; or
(b) slides into or contacts the kicker when both of the kicker’s feet are on the ground. It is not a foul if the contact is not severe, or if the kicker returns both feet to the ground prior to the contact and falls over a defender who is on the ground.
Note: When in doubt, it is a foul for roughing the kicker.
Item 2: Running into the Kicker. It is a foul for running into the kicker if a defensive player:
(a) contacts the kicking foot of the kicker, even if the kicker is airborne when the contact occurs; or
(b) slides under the kicker, preventing him from returning both feet to the ground.

Sun • 11:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Vikings at Cowboys (video at 2:20)

On a touchdown run by Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, there was a slight move-the-pile effort by the offensive line on Peterson’s behalf. A few have asked us if this is the elusive assisting the runner penalty — for its obscurity it seems to come up in our Twitter feed every week.

There was no assisting the runner penalty. Rule 12-1-4(a) was slightly altered in the offseason. Here is the current rule, with the language from the 2012 rulebook crossed out:

No offensive player may lift a runner to his feet or pull a runner in any direction at any time.

Pushing a pile of bodies never was a foul, but that ambiguity of giving a push from behind has been removed.

Sun • 8:07 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Buccaneers at Seahawks

The catch that was not overturned at the end of the third quarter, despite clear evidence, is its own post.

Sun • 6:38 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Ravens at Browns (video)

Cleveland Browns receiver Greg Little rips off the helmet of Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo and throws it towards the sideline.  Referee Scott Green nails him for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Sun • 6:14 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Ravens at Browns (image)

Browns receiver Greg Little gives Ravens safety James Ihedigbo a little “c’mon-c’mon-c’mon-c’mon” after the play. Side judge Larry Rose comes in quickly to separate and throw a taunting flag on Little.

[h/t GIFD Sports]

Sun • 5:21 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Vikings at Cowboys (video)

Tony Romo dumps a pass out of bounds and hits head linesman Phil McKinnley. 

Sun • 5:16 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Saints at Jets (video)

Referee Clete Blakeman flags the Jets’ Josh Bush for a low hit on Saints quarterback Drew Brees; however replay shows that the hit was at the thighs — which is legal.  An illegal low hit on the quarterback has to be at the knees or lower. Blakeman is completely behind Brees when he makes the call.

Sun • 3:31 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Vikings at Cowboys (video)

Update: Video available

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is flagged for offensive pass interference (10-yard penalty). He takes off his helmet to argue the call, which is a 15-yarder (for removing the helmet, not for arguing, in this case).

Even though there is a live-ball plus dead-ball fouls by the offense, the defense may only choose one. Since the 15-yarder is post-play, it is enforced with the down counting.

[h/t GIFD Sports]

Sun • 3:29 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chiefs at Bills (video)

The Chiefs score a 100-yard pick-six.  Referee Ron Winter makes sure he gets out of everyone’s way first, and then chases the play to the goal line.  Defensive touchdowns are dangerous plays for the referee and umpire.  Everything is in reverse and everyone is out of position.

Sun • 3:11 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Vikings at Cowboys (video)

Christian Ponder attempts a quarterback sneak for a Vikings touchdown. You make the call — did he break the plane of the goal before his knee touched the ground?

Best I can tell, it is field judge Barry Anderson on the goal-line call.

[Update: Not as close as I initially thought. There was no contact by the defense prior to the goal-line dive.]

Sun • 3:09 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Vikings at Cowboys

Triplette’s crew huddles and picks up a flag against the Vikings for a helmet-to-helmet it.  Two plays later the crew correctly flags a helmet-to-helmet hit.  Good work and good crew communication by the men in stripes.

Sun • 1:12 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Saints at Jets

Referee Clete Blakeman had a replacement referee moment on the coin flip.

Vilma calls heads. Coin lands on tails, ref says you won the toss. Vilma says, ‘No, i said heads.”

— WWL-TV Sports (@wwltvsports) November 3, 2013

Jonathan Vilma, the former Jets linebacker, was under no obligation to correct Blakeman, although there are two other officials present at the coin toss to ensure that this would be fixed before long.

Sun • 12:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

This week’s referee assignments.

Mon • 11:14 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Seahawks at Rams

Gene Steratore is becoming quite proficient on the microphone.  It wasn’t always this way with NFL referees.

Sun • 11:09 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Giants at Eagles (image)

Oddly, this body slam of Giants receiver Victor Cruz was not a foul, but Eagles defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha will likely find a FedEx letter indicating his fine on Friday.

h/t GIFD Sports

Sun • 10:48 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Steelers at Raiders (video)

tarver flipRaiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will find himself writing a check to the league for cursing out the officials and hurling a “Hawaiian peace sign” (thanks, Kevin Harlan for the term).

This might have gone unnoticed, because the CBS Sports broadcast had a fleeting shot of the gesture. The officials didn’t see it, so it wasn’t flagged. To make sure this didn’t slip through, former vice president of officiating Mike Pereira called the league office to bring it to their attention. And brought it to everyone else’s attention in his column.

When Titans coordinator Chuck Cecil flew a birdie at the officials in 2010, he was fined $ 40,000 before Monday Night Football hit the air. Cecil had a prior fine for unsportsmanlike conduct against a game official. So, Tarver might not get the same punishment, but expect it to be swiftly handed out.

Image via Deadspin, NFL/CBS Sports

Sun • 8:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Steelers at Raiders

There are a pair of first-touch rulings on punting plays that I hope to look at. Currently, the Game Rewind is restricted until the conclusion of Sunday Night Football.

Sun • 7:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Giants at Eagles (video)

On an errant snap for a punting play, it appears as if Steve Weatherford attempted to kick the loose ball out of the end zone, but it took an odd bounce. The Eagles were able to recover for a touchdown.

Had Weatherford kicked the ball out of the end zone, it would have been a foul, but really it would be the best option for the Giants. The Giants would get the the safety, instead of the touchdown. The Eagles would not accept the penalty, because it would mean the Giants repeat fourth down. 

If Weatherford kicked the ball in the end zone, it would still be ruled a safety no matter what*, because the spot of enforcement is the end zone (safety) and the ball crosses the end line (safety). 

The asterisk is that Weatherford could (although highly unlikely) be charged with a palpaby unfair act if, for example, he kicks the ball from the Eagles player’s hands as he is recovering it. There is no record of a palpably unfair act of any kind being ruled in the NFL.

Sun • 7:39 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Dolphins at Patriots (video)

The illegal bat play is its own post.

Sun • 7:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

49ers vs. Jaguars (video)

On a catch-fumble by the Jaguars returned for a 49ers touchdown, there was a tight call on completing the process of the catch. The receiver clearly turns into a runner, so the fumble return stands.

Sun • 3:10 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Giants at Eagles (video)

Tom Symonette and Jeff Lamberth do a good job calling this Cruz sideline catch.

Sun • 3:05 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Browns at Chiefs (video)

Good job by the Blakeman crew on this flea-flicker touchdown.  Trick plays are designed to surprise and catch the defense off guard and they can also catch the officials off guard if they are not ready.  The crew did not get sucked into a running play, kept with their keys, and were in proper position to rule on the play.

Sun • 1:20 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Week 8 referee assignments

Ed Hochuli is in London this week; an assignment I’m told he openly lobbied for. Full list here.

Sun • 11:35 am EDT • Ben Austro

Cowboys at Lions (video)

A gutsy last-second keeper by Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford gave the Lions a game-winning touchdown, when he signaled to everyone that he was going to spike the ball to kill the clock.

It was ruled a touchdown on the field, and despite being clearly a touchdown, the replay official called for a review because of the pivotal nature of the play. Let’s flip the scenario around. What if Stafford was ruled short of the goal line on the review?

In this hypothetical case, the Lions would have 12 seconds for their 2nd-and-goal play. But, wait. The rules for replay reversals under one minute state that a reversal could result in a 10-second runoff if the clock status changes to a running clock. That would be the case here, because the original ruling would be a stopped clock (for the touchdown) and reversed to a running clock.

The Cowboys would be asked if they wanted to apply the 10-second runoff, which they would certainly have accepted. The Lions had no timeouts to counter the runoff.

The ball would have been spotted inches short of the goal line with two seconds. Once it the ball is ready for play, the clock would run, meaning the Lions would, in this hypothetical scenario, only have a chance if they lined up in anticipation for the ready-for-play signal, set the line for one second, and snap the ball. Likely, it would not have coordinated that well.

Sun • 11:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Ravens at Steelers (video)

The penalty here was defensive offsides, a five-yard foul for Steelers safety Troy Polamalu mistiming his run forward and leaping over the offensive lineman to block a kick. Since the kick was good, the foul was assessed on the kickoff.

But the big question is why this is not a running-forward-and-leaping foul? According to Rule 12-3-1(q), it is an unsportsmanlike conduct foul for:

Running forward and leaping in an obvious attempt to block a field goal or Try Kick and landing on players, unless the leaping player was originally lined up within one yard of the line of scrimmage when the ball was snapped.

If the fact that Polamalu was -1 yard from the line of scrimmage at the snap disqualifies the 15-yard foul, then this is an unintended exploit of the rules. By leaping over players in stance, he has created a dangerous situation for the offensive line. The one-yard rule should be read to give the lineman a one-yard space in which to execute the standard jump to block the kick.

Sun • 7:33 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Titans at 49ers (video)

A muffed punt by the Titans rolled into the end zone where the 49ers recovered. The kicking team is not entitled to advance a kick that has crossed the line of scrimmage until it has been possessed by the receiving team. However, the kicking team is entitled to possession after the receivers touch the ball, and to the touchdown if the kicking team recovers in the end zone.

There was a foul for illegal block in the back on the Titans, but this is declined. It does not carry forward to the kickoff; only 15-yard fouls on scoring plays are bridged to the kickoff.

Sun • 6:44 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Texans at Chiefs (video)

The chiefs fumble the ball away to the Texans.  Good job by the Hochuli crew on a fumble scrum.  The first officials at the pile dive in to determine possession and the other officials “orbit” the pile to prevent unsportsmanlike acts and prevent any other altercations. 

Sun • 4:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Patriots at Jets

Big call for an unsportsmanlike foul on a missed FG attempt in overtime. This has it’s own post.

Sun • 4:40 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chargers at Jaguars (video)

Good teamwork by Jerry Bergman, Jr., and side judge Rick Patterson on this beautiful, diving touchdown.

Sun • 3:32 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bengals at Lions

From the forum (h/t ak482):

Possible ejection in Detroit? Weird situation as Jermaine Gresham of the Bengals was dinged for unsportsmanlike conduct for making contact with an official during a tussle. Scott Green announced the penalty but no ejection yet CBS cameras showed Gresham going to locker room.

Update: Gresham not ejected, sent to locker room by Marvin Lewis.

Sun • 3:16 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Rams at Panthers (video)

Bill Vinovich and crew had a significant fight on their hands. Rams defensive end Chris Long was ejected.

Sun • 2:35 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Rams at Panthers  (video)

Nice team work by head linesman Jim Mello and side judge Jimmy DeBell on this fumble recovery by the Panthers very near the sideline.

What is critical to watch for is control by the Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn recovering the ball. He must establish firm control of the ball and two feet/other body part on the ground prior to touching the sideline.

Sun • 2:04 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bears at Redskins

Umpire Garth DeFelice leaves the game for some unknown reason.  Side judge Greg Meyer moves to umpire, back judge Terrance Miles goes to side judge, and the deep middle is left open. 

Update 2:08 p.m. ET: Mr. DeFelice has returned and the crew is back to regular seven man mechanics.

Update 3:59 p.m. ET: Fox Sports reported that DeFelice had a “hamstring issue.”

Sun • 1:40 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Buccaneers at Falcons (video)

Nice job by referee Walt Anderson to rule a fumble, mark the spot with his bean bag, wheel out of the way, and follow the defender into the end zone.  Defensive recoveries and long returns are the most dangerous plays for the referee and Anderson not only was able to get a good angle to call the play, we was also able to protect himself.

Sun • 12:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Week 7 referee assignments

Wed • 1:43 am EDT • Ben Austro

Timeout myth busting

Couple of items to correct for the record:

  • The Patriots did not get a fourth timeout in the second half. The Fox television graphic erroneously indicated a timeout was taken at one point, but the clock never stopped. Once the error was noticed in the production truck, the timeout reappeared in the graphic.
  • The Jets lobbied to get a timeout back because they felt they did not get ample substitution time. We checked the game records, and Terry McAulay did not return the timeout to the Jets as we had originally reported.

Wed • 1:37 am EDT • Ben Austro

Colts at Chargers

Tyler says:

MNF, that chargers pass in the second quarter that looked like it might be a catch and fumble but was ruled incomplete — isn’t tucking the football away to protect it a football move? He wasn’t going to the ground, he landed with both feet with control of the ball, and after tucking it closer to his body to try to protect it, it was ripped out.

[Play was at 5:17 of the second quarter.]

Tucking the football is not considered a second act in this case. In fact, tucking the ball is just part of securing the ball, which a different item in the process of the catch. Because he lost control in the tucking motion, that demonstrates lack of control. Had his tucking motion demonstrated a secure possession, and he shows he is able to become a runner, then you have a second act.

Immediately after Chargers receiver Antonio Gates got his feet down, he was by all interpretations losing control of the ball, because you see him bobble it. That means we do not observe an element of time that would afford the receiver the opportunity to make a football move. So, it is correctly ruled incomplete. Taking all of the end zone catches out of the discussion, this is exactly the type of catch that the Competition Committee wants ruled incomplete, because they feel it is a cheap fumble opportunity for the defense.

These items must happen in order: secure the ball, two feet down in bounds, have the ability to make a football move. (Separate rules apply when the player is falling to the ground.)

Prior to this season incomplete passes were not reviewable for reversing to catch-fumble-recovery. That was one of the offseason rule changes. However, in order for this to have been successfully challenged, we would need to see a clear recovery by the defense on the replay. Emerging from a fumble scrum with the ball is not considered a clear recovery (because whistles are curtailing the efforts to continue scrambling for the ball).  In this case, players from both teams are over the ball, so a replay challenge would have been unsuccessful if the process of the catch was completed.

Mon • 7:48 am EDT • Ben Austro

Unfortunately, our Monday morning roundup, After Further Review, won’t be published this morning. Hope to have it by Tuesday. 

Mon • 1:46 am EDT • Ben Austro

Redskins at Cowboys

On a Washington punt, one of the receivers was blocked into the loose ball, leaving a question as to whether it was a live ball. The relevant rule is Rule 9-1-4:

There is no distinction between a player touching a ball or being touched by it, but a player is not considered to have touched the ball if he is blocked into it by an opponent, provided he is in a passive position and not blocking. A player who is engaged with and blocking his opponent when he contacts the ball is deemed to have touched the ball.

I thought that the Cowboys player who had the first touch was passive enough to the play: his back was to most of the field and he wasn’t engaged in any “useful” blocking.

Former NFL supervisor Jim Daopoulos tweeted that the player was, indeed, an active blocker, and thus that made the ball live, with a Washington recovery.

Looks like we will have to follow-up with this more during the week.

Mon • 12:47 am EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Ravens

Regarding the lengthy announcement Gene Steratore made in this game, from the comments:

Dan says:

Ravens-Packers, ~0:25 left in the 2nd quarter. Pack has no time outs left. Running play ends with the runner (a Packer) injured and the clock stops for the injury. During the injury timeout, a different Packer commits a personal foul. The ruling is that the Pack is charged with its fourth timeout; although a runoff should occur after such an injury and then the clock should start to roll, because there was a deadball foul that stopped the clock, it would not be runoff and would remain stopped. Was this the right call? It seems odd that a team can save the 10sec injury extra timeout in the half runoff and the subsequent clock rolling by deliberately committing a foul.

This is correct; it is an exploitable loophole, though I would argue that 15 yards may not be an acceptable offset to a 10-second runoff when there are more than 10 seconds remaining.

Rule 4-5-4-Supplemental Note 3:

(3) If a foul by either team occurs during a down in which there is also an injury, such foul does not affect the charging of an excess timeout, but it does prevent a 10-second runoff that may result from the excess timeout, because the foul stopped the clock.

Mon • 12:33 am EDT • Ben Austro

Saints at Patriots (video)

patroits hold tdThe image is compelling, but calls are not made from still images. I re-watched the game-winning touchdown play to make sure. The action depicted here is very quick, but I’m inclined to think that this was a hold. The defender is clearly constrained in his pursuit.

This does get called no matter how pivotal the play, so I can’t accept that the officials holstered their flags for this. I think it was just a case that it wasn’t seen. (In the image here, you can see the umpire does not have a look on it, because he is screened by two other players.)

Had a flag been thrown, this would have taken the touchdown off the board, and the Patriots would have had 5 seconds remaining on the clock.

h/t to numerous twitizens who flooded me at once with this image, but I don’t know who to credit for the original screencap

Sun • 11:03 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Ravens (video)

According to Fansided, Gene Steratore had a long penalty announcement, a “near minute [long] explanation” as they reported. The video embedded has already been lawyered off of YouTube, so we will look for another video link

(And no offense to the eight officials who are lawyers.)

Update: video linked above

Sun • 9:58 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Redskins at Cowboys (image)

Substitutes and non-players are not permitted in the white part of the sideline during the live ball.  Head linesman Steve Stelljes properly flagged the Washington bench for unsportsmanlike conduct after Stelljes collided with an assistant coach.  These types of collisions are very dangerous for both official and sideline personnel.  The sidelines must be kept clear during the live ball.  The foul happened at the 2:26 mark of the second quarter.

h/t GIFD Sports

Sun • 9:38 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Redskins at Cowboys

Awesome crew communication between line judge Byron Boston, field judge Buddy Horton, and back judge Billy Smith at the 9:16 mark of the first quarter, ruling that the Cowboys’ player was blocked into the punted ball, thus no muff and the Cowboys keep the ball.

Sun • 7:36 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Ed Hochuli would like you to focus on his delts instead of the penalty call.

hochuli delts

Sun • 7:04 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Titans at Seahawks (video)

Great work by head linesman Kent Payne and side judge Laird Hayes teaming up on this tough sideline catch.

Sun • 7:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Saints at Patriots (image)

Patroits wide receiver Danny Amendola was leveled by a brutal hit along the sideline. It was a legal hit.

  • Amendola was not out of bounds, so no late hit.
  • Amendola is an open-field runner, so he does not get defenseless player protections.
  • Neither player violated the new crown-of-the-helmet rule. In this case, you have to square up the opponent and deliver a foreable blow with the top/crown part of the helmet.

Sun • 6:36 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Saints at Patriots

At the 4:43 mark of the third quarter, the Saints Malcolm Jenkins is flagged for unnecessary roughness on a Patriots receiver.  Jenkins lead with his shoulder and the shoulder clipped the receiver’s face mask.  Jenkins did all he could do to avoid helmet-to-helmet but still picked up the foul.  It will be interesting to see what the NFL says about this play.  The NFL says it would rather the officials err on the side of safety, so I don’t think the calling official will be marked down.

Sun • 6:24 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Titans at Seahawks (video)

The Titans return a botched Seahawks field goal for a touchdown, but not after referee Carl Cheffers spends a long time under the hood.  Instant replay isn’t the be-all and end-all.  Some plays are just too close to call and too inconclusive on replay.

Sun • 6:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Titans at Seahawks (video)

On a botched field goal attempt, Seahawks (backup) holder Chris Maragos fumbled backwards, with the Titans returning the fumble for a touchdown. Referee Carl Cheffers had to determine if the knee of Maragos was down prior to the fumble or not.

Sun • 6:14 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Saints at Patriots (video)

Nice job by line judge Darryl Lewis making this touchdown call.  In replay, the call was closer than you think.

Sun • 5:10 pm EDT • Ben Austro

R 94 WTF?

carey uniformI really have no explanation for this (we are checking). Maybe Mike Carey left his pink penalty flag in the wash with his uniform. Maybe his luggage is on a direct flight to O’Hare. We saw this last week with FJ Barry Anderson having a blank panel on the back of his jersey (beginning of this video). For some reason, officials have had to resort to backup gear.

Whether it was marker or duct tape, that looks hideous. (And it’s not like we need a number to identify Mike Carey from the rest of the crew.)

Capture by Greg A. Bedard, SI/the MMQB

Sun • 4:42 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Ravens (image)

For the second time in two weeks, a team has gotten a first down on their own blocked kick.

The Ravens punt was partially blocked by the Packers. Once the ball passes the line of scrimmage, it is just like any other punt: the kicking team can only recover and advance, the receiving team may only down the punted ball. The Packers touched the ball, making it a live ball allowing the Ravens to recover. Because the Packers had not yet possessed the ball, the Ravens are not allowed to advance it, so the ball goes to the Ravens, but it is dead at the spot of recovery.

The first-down line does not matter for the Ravens in this case; they get an entire new series of downs on their recovery, because it is for all practical purposes a double change of possession.

Contrast to last week when the Chargers recovered their blocked field goal behind the line of scrimmage (video). Because the ball had not crossed the line, both teams can pick up and advance. The Chargers in that case had too reach the first down line to keep the ball.

Sun • 12:59 pm EDT • Football Zebras staff

Here are your week 6 referee assignments.

Sun • 10:31 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Texans at 49ers (video)

Chad Brown drops the ball depriving the Texans the chance to spike the ball at the end of the first half.  Did the 49er player knock the ball out of Brown’s hands?  If he did, I think Brown would have stopped the clock.  I think Brown was just bumped and jostled  and lost the handle.  Unfortunate turn of events.

Sun • 10:16 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Texans at 49ers

Excellent offensive pass interference call on the Texans’ WR DeAndre Hopkins.  He tried to use the defender as leverage to get position to leap for the ball.  Mike Weir, field judge #50 on the call.  The call happened just in front of the two-minute warning in the first half.

Sun • 9:39 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Panthers at Cardinals (video)

This is officially ruled a fumble and return for a TD.  If the ball fell to the ground, I’m sure the Ravens would have challenged it hoping for an incomplete pass.  It was a moot point though, as the defender caught it out of the air and ran for the TD.  Referee John Parry didn’t have to make a ruling.

Sun • 7:36 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Seahawks at Colts (video at 2:13)

Seahawks defensive lineman Chris Clemens forced a fumble on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. During the play, Clemens’ arm hit Luck in the helmet. The rule which prevents unnecessary hits to the head mostly applies only when the quarterback has thrown the ball. Typically, an unnecessary hit would be after the ball is thrown and a pass rusher immediately delivers a cheap blow to the head. However, a pass rusher going for the ball can incidentally make contact to the helmet while making a play on the ball (except for flagrant unnecessary roughness).

Rule 12-2-9(c)

In covering the passer position, Referees will be particularly alert to fouls in which defenders impermissibly … use hands, arms, or other parts of the body to hit the passer forcibly in the head or neck area (see also the other unnecessary roughness rules covering these subjects).

Sun • 7:34 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Panthers at Cardinals (video)

Cam Newton is sacked for a safety.  Note line judge Adrian Hill on the replay.  It is his job to get forward progress on a QB sack.  He was at the goal line to rule if Newton had broken away and gotten out of the end zone.  Excellent mechanics.

Sun • 6:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Chiefs at Titans (video)

Chiefs recovered a muffed kick at the goal line. The kicking team cannot advance the muffed kick; in all instances when a punt passes the line of scrimmage, the play is dead once the kicking team possesses the ball, unless the receiving team possesses it first.

Since the ball was recovered on the goal line, it is a dead ball in the Chiefs possession in the Titans end zone. Chiefs get the touchdown.

Sun • 4:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Seahawks at Colts (video)

A blocked punt by the Seahawks appeared to be recovered in the end zone by Jeron Johnson for a touchdown. Referee Ron Winter ruled it a safety (with a confirmation by umpire Carl Paganelli) and confirmed in replay.

Johnson does not hold on to the ball as he is going out of bounds. Possession of the ball is determined much the same as a catch. Had Johnson held on to the ball and demonstrated control of the ball, it would have been ruled a touchdown, even though he slid out. But when Johnson stood up, the ball was out of his hands, rolling around near the photographers. Therefore, he’s ruled to have not recovered the ball.

Sun • 3:29 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Eagles at Giants (video)

Giants took a timeout and then challenged an Eagles catch at the sideline. While the receiver was in bounds, the process of the catch was not completed, and should have been overturned to incomplete.

If the Giants challenged the feet in bounds, Walt Coleman still reviews the entire play, including a catch-process ruling. Coleman ruled the call stands. We likely will have video later in the day. (Video was included in Mike Pereira’s Sunday wrap-up, linked above.)

Because of the timeout and the lost challenge, the Giants were charged two timeouts in the same dead-ball period.

Sun • 2:40 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Eagles at Giants

Giants running back David Wilson is driven back from the 2-yard line into his end zone. Wilson appears to attempt to run forward again and is tackled immediately (animated image via Deadspin).

Walt Coleman’s crew ruled that forward progress was stopped at the 2, and it is not reviewable. Because Wilson started to show a run again complicates the no-safety call. I think that Wilson did not regain enough of his own power to not give him the benefits of a forward-progress ruling. Fox Sports analyst said that he “was inclined” to rule it a safety. The play was not ruled dead before Wilson was downed in the end zone, so the whistle was not a factor.

Sun • 1:20 pm EDT • Ben Austro

This week’s referee assignments.

Sun • 10:23 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Patriots at Falcons

Was it good? A Patriots field goal attempt by Steven Gostkowski appeared from the TV camera angles to pass right over the right upright. On kicks, the field judge and the back judge are stationed beneath the uprights, and will look up at the outside plane of the goalpost. If the official sees ball, then the kick is no good.

Should the posts be extended? They were in 1966, redesigned in 1967, and extended again in 1974, but have remained untouched since then. Perhaps a simple solution has cables extending upwards from the uprights to another cable that follows the plane of the end line, well beyond the height of a kick. This way a ball could deflect off of the cable in the same ways that it would the uprights.

Further reading:

History of goalpost changes: Pro Football Hall of Fame

The “Baltimore Extensions” of 1966: Chris Pika, WNST/Baltimore

Sun • 8:17 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cowboys at Chargers (video)

On a fumble recovery in the end zone, Chargers cornerback Richard Marshall started to return the ball out of the end zone before taking a knee for a touchback. Marshall did not bring the entire ball out of the end zone, so it remains in the end zone by rule.

Sun • 8:06 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jets at Titans (video)

Well, not a good day for back judges. After first-year back judge Dale Shaw got caught out of position, Billy Smith (a 20-year veteran) nearly broke up this 77-yard touchdown reception by Titans receiver Nate Washington. Apparently, Smith was positioning for a sideline route, but needed to change his angle when the play came up the middle.

In both Shaw’s and Smith’s collision, they must have awareness of the flight of the ball in their positioning. It rarely happens that the officials get mixed up in the play, but it is another consideration beyond the rules for all of the officials, particularly the deep ones.

Sun • 7:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cardinals at Buccaneers (video)

Buccaneers safety Dashon Goldson delivers a hit on a defenseless player. Obviously, Jeron Brown, the Cardinals receiver, was in a defenseless posture. On the play, the officials are watching for Goldson’s actions with the head. Because Goldson lowers his head in a manner to deliver a blow (and not to redirect his target), this is a foul.

Sun • 5:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

On that punt play in Denver (one entry below), Shaw was a bit out of position. He was clearly in the middle of the gunner’s path. Side judge and field judge have responsibility for the goal line. Glad to see he’s okay and that he made a quick recovery. And good that it didn’t have an effect on the play.

Sun • 5:45 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Eagles at Broncos (image)

Rookie back judge Dale Shaw (#104) takes a tumble at the goal line as the Eagles try to down a punt.  An Eagles player got partially blocked into Shaw.  He was hit from behind and landed on his front.  He got up in time to make the touchback call.

h/t GIFD Sports

Sun • 5:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Seahawks at Texans

Prior to the game-winning drive by the Seahawks in overtime, the Texans punted with the gunner Eddie Pleasant stepping out of bounds. Pleasant was attempting to get around the Seahawks coverage, and swung out of bounds to do so.

Rule 9-1-5:

During a punt that crosses the line of scrimmage, and prior to a change of possession, it is a foul if a kicking team player goes out of bounds voluntarily (without being contacted) prior to the end of the kick.

If a member of the kicking team is forced out of bounds, or goes out of bounds voluntarily, and does not attempt to return
inbounds in a reasonable amount of time, it is a foul for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. See 12-3-1-(t).

Penalty: Loss of five yards.

Pleasant was not bumped significantly, if at all [see update], so he went out of bounds on his own volition. He also was angling to return to the field, so he was subject to the 5-yard foul, and not a 15 yarder. It appears that side judge Ron Torbert threw the flag, as he lead the discussion with referee Tony Corrente. Head linesman George Hayward joined the discussion to apparently support the call.

This sideline rule does not apply to the offense and defense on non-punting plays, but there are other rules that come into effect if a player steps out of bounds.

Update: The call was that there ways no contact by a Seahawks player. Any contact, even if it doesn’t physically cause the player to go out of bounds, will wipe out the 5-yard penalty. All the defender has to do is brush him, and the “voluntarily” part is not considered. It does not, however, impact the 15-yard “reasonable amount of time” provision.

Sun • 4:31 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Seahawks at Texans (video)

Head linesman George Hayward calls a personal foul on the Texans in overtime, getting the Seahawks into Texans territory.  The Texans player had stopped the Seahawks player’s forward progress, Hayward blew the whistle, and the Texans player body-slammed the ball carrier.

What makes this call even more impressive is that Hayward is on the Texans’ bench.  It is easy to make a call that your bench will like, but it takes something extra to make the call against your bench.

Sun • 4:14 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cardinals at Buccaneers

Gene Steratore and his crew are in Tampa today. Joining the crew for the first time is line judge Jeff Seeman. He was out the entire preseason and the first three weeks of the regular season after suffering a freak off-field injury. One source told me that Seeman was on a flight where some item in the cabin of the plane was not secured. He was in the first row and was hit in the knee by the object upon takeoff.

Steratore, himself,  joined the crew in Week 1 after missing preseason as he finished rehabbing from offseason surgery on his Achilles tendon.

Great to see Seeman healed and back on the field!

Sun • 4:00 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bears at Lions (video)

Field judge Doug Rosenbaum (#67) is in great position to rule this long Alshon Jeffery catch.

Sun • 3:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Giants at Chiefs (image)

Chiefs coach Andy Reid tosses the challenge flag to head linesman Greg Bradley, who catches it in midair.

Thanks to Deadspin.

Sun • 3:55 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bears at Lions

Watching Mike Carey work this game, I am still amazed that the Super Bowl 42 referee is 64-years old!

Sun • 3:54 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bears at Lions (video)

The Lions sack Cutler and get a scoop and score.  Nice job of referee Mike Carey and umpire Chad Brown to hold their whistles when the ball is temporarily out of sight.  It is unusual to see the umpire make the touchdown signal.

Sun • 3:47 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Steelers vs. Vikings

ref_invalidfaircatchsigIn the London game, Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels was penalized for an invalid fair catch signal. The receiver must signal above the helmet and waving side-to-side to count as a fair-catch signal; raising a hand otherwise (except to block the sun) is a foul.

Sun • 3:21 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Giants at Chiefs (video)

Giants punt rusher Damontre Moore was flagged for either running into or roughing the punter on Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt. Because Moore contacted the ball, these fouls largely come off the board, and Terry McAulay’s crew correctly picked up the flags.

Rule 12-2-10:

No defensive player may run into or rough a kicker who kicks from behind  the line unless such contact:  (a) is incidental to and occurs after the defender has touched the kick in flight

A hypothetical situation could have a punt rusher intentionally sweeping at the plant leg of the punter while successfully blocking a punt; this would be still be ruled a roughing foul. But in nearly all blocked punt cases, the contact with the punter would be resulting from the defender’s block of the punt.

And, even though the ball has traveled beyond the line of scrimmage, it is still not a foul. The defender only has to have perceptibly touched the ball.

Sun • 11:45 am EDT • Ben Austro

Patriots at Falcons

A fourth quarter challenge by Patriots coach Bill Belichick was denied because the replay equipment was malfunctioning. In this case, referee Walt Coleman waited the required two minutes to allow the replay monitor to become operable. If it is still not working at that point, he must abandon the replay. The Patriots are not penalized a challenge. Belichick was obviously upset at the call (image).

The replay official is not permitted to confirm or overturn a call in this case.

Sun • 9:40 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bears at Steelers | 1 qtr. 2:06

It looked like the ball crossed the plane of the goal line; however Morelli could not determine the status or Forte’s knee when the ball appeared to break the plane.  No conclusive evidence = the call on the field stands.

Sun • 9:23 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bears at Steelers

Tonight is the first night for many to see first-year back judge Dale Shaw (#104) and the first time to see former vice president for officiating Carl Johnson (#101).

Sun • 7:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Bengals

  • Dave says:

    They didn’t show a replay or discuss it much but I think they messed up the GB-Cin kickoff-out-of-bounds call. It appeared to me that the Packers kick-returner actually touched the football before it rolled out of bounds, with his foot out-of-bounds. This would make it not a penalty, but the Packers ball at the 2.

I don’t have video of this, so I’m commenting based on your description. If the kickoff touches a player who is out of bounds, the ball is out of bounds even though it never crosses the sideline. It does not need to be in possession, just touch the out of bounds player.

This also applies if a player has not put his second foot down in bounds, re-establishing him in bounds; the player is still considered out of bounds, even though his body is back in the field of play.

So, by touching an out of bounds player, the kickoff is deemed out of bounds, and that is a penalty (receiver’s ball 25 yards from the spot of the kick).

Sun • 6:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Chargers at Titans (video)

rivers uns officialChargers quarterback Philip Rivers was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for confronting an official. The foul happened between downs, so the offensive pass interference is enforced in addition to the unsportsmanlike conduct. After the 25 yards were marked off, it brought up a 1st and goal from the 30.

It appears that Rivers was complaining to field judge Gary Cavaletto (off screen), but did so right in front of back judge Greg Wilson. Tony Corrente was the referee.

[NFL/CBS Sports]

Sun • 6:18 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Chargers at Titans (video)

It was a very tight process of the catch call, but ultimately ruled correctly.

A touchdown catch by Chargers receiver Antonio Gates was ruled completed by back judge Greg Wilson, despite the fact that Gates quickly dropped the ball out of bounds and tripped.

Gates was not going to the ground in this instance, because the trip/fall came after the process was completed. Gates secured the ball after bobbling, got both feet down firmly in bounds. He had the ability to make a stride under his control for a third step out of bounds, which completed the process. He subsequently dropped the ball, but that is irrelevant.

The replay official confirmed the call without placing the call under review.

Sun • 5:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Rams at Cowboys (video)

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray gets the touchdown by just nicking the pylon. When the live ball touches the pylon in a player’s possession, the ball has broken the plane of the goal, resulting in a touchdown.

There is no conclusive evidence on replay that the ball touched the ground first, in which case it would be 1st-and-goal from the 3-micron line. Also, Murray did not step out of bounds prior to the touchdown, but it was very close.

Once the plane of the goal is broken on a run, the play is over, so the subsequent loss of possession is not a consideration.

Line judge Tom Symonette made the call without the benefit of replay. Field judge Jeff Lamberth came in to aid in the call on the feet.

Sun • 4:58 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Lions at Redskins (video)

Robert Griffin III dives head first and fumbles the ball.  Normally the ground can’t cause a fumble, but after a quick huddle, Ed Hochuli’s crew comes up with the correct ruling.

Sun • 4:48 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Packers at Bengals (video)

blakeman hatThe Packers fumble the ball, the Bengals pick it up, fumble it, and pick it up again for a scoop-and-score.  Referee Clete Blakeman dropped his bean bag at the spot of the fumble.  He marked the second fumble by tossing his hat at the spot.  Before the officials were equipped with a bean bag, they routinely used their hats to mark spots.

This was a fourth down, but the fourth-down fumble rules do not apply to the Bengals because there was already a change of possession.

Sun • 4:33 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Colts at 49ers

McAulay’s crew.  On the first play from scrimmage, head linesman Greg Bradley called the 49ers for a “crown of the helmet” hit.  Replays show the defender lowering his head but contacting the offensive player with his shoulder.  It looked really bad in real time, but on replay it was not a foul.  The NFL has told its officials if they are going to err, err on the side of throwing the flag.

Sun • 3:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Browns at Vikings

A coach’s challenge by the Vikings was penalized (correctly) 15 yards (incorrectly). See the full post on the play.


Sun • 1:36 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Bengals (video)

I believe that is line judge Ron Marinucci on the plane-of-the-goal call on a touchdown by Bengals running back Giovani Bernard. A player is down if any body part other than a hand (up to wrist) or foot (up to ankle) touches the ground after defensive contact. Easy to see in slow motion, difficult at full speed. [Entry updated to credit the line judge, not the field judge.]

Mon • 12:40 am EDT • Ben Austro

49ers at Seahawks

The Seahawks blocked punt which had the Seahawks in disarray from a fan’s whistle is its own post.

Sun • 11:09 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

49ers at Seahawks (video)

John Parry’s crew had a good holding call in the endzone, resulting in a safety for Seattle.

Sun • 10:57 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

49ers at Seahawks (image)

A player can spin the ball, but not in the direction of an opponent.  The Seahawks Sidney Rice spun the ball right at the feet of a 49ers player.  That drew four flags and a correct unsportsmanlike conduct foul of Rice.

Sun • 10:40 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Titans at Texans (video)

An unusual sequence of events at the end of regulation on a quadruple-field-goal attempt:

  • First attempt by Texans kicker Randy Bullock never happened because the Titans called timeout.
  • Second attempt was blocked, but the Titans were offside, so move five yards closer, repeat. Time expired on the clock, so the Texans get one untimed down by rule.
  • Third attempt never happened, either. Because there was an intervening snap, Titans were allowed to call timeout. Again.
  • The fourth attempt was the actual play that counted, and it doinked the left upright.

The offside foul is not a snap-killing foul, so the Titans were allowed another timeout opportunity. Fouls that kill the snap (false start, 12 men in defensive formation) do not give the team the ability to call a second timeout. (There is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct foul after the kick if there is a second timeout by one team in the same dead-ball period on a field goal attempt; the intervening snap eliminated this possibility.)

Sun • 7:33 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Broncos at Giants | 4th qtr., 4:00

Nice job by the Steratore crew to get together and properly rule illegal touching on the Giants on the onside kick, which New York recovered.

Sun • 6:39 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Broncos at Giants | 3rd qtr,, 3:08

Umpire Bill Schuster, (#129) with a critical, and correct taunting foul setting up first and goal for the Giants, who punch it in the next play.

Sun • 6:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Browns at Ravens

Sergio Lattanzi asks:

3:34 left in the game, Jason Campbell threw a pass from inside his endzone that was called a tipped ball and challenged by Baltimore. Bill Vinovich reviewed the play and simply stated “the call on the field stands.” Could you please explain this play? The announcing crew was unable to explain it and I’m unclear on what the call was and what Baltimore wanted it to be and what they hoped to gain by challenging the call.

Don’t have video, but the gamebook indicates there was a defensive pass interference foul called, and that the ball was tipped. When there is a tipped ball, pass interference cannot be called, as long as the interference occurs after the tip. Because the act of tipping/touching a ball is reviewable, the review was to see if the touch occurred prior to the foul. Vinovich said “stands,” according to your description, so it means there is no indisputable evidence to overturn the call on the field.

I’m not a fan of this particular type of review, even though it is permissible. Replay cannot be used to determine pass interference, yet the referee is using replay to determine when interference is reputed to start. What if the referee doesn’t agree with the interference call? Doesn’t matter. He has to base it on the act that the deep official based the foul on.

Sun • 6:07 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cowboys at Chiefs (image)

Chiefs got an incredibly lucky bounce on a punt, with the ball coming to a near stop at the 2-yard line. Unfortunately, the Chiefs gunner who eventually touched the ball down had stepped out of bounds. That is an illegal touching foul, and Jerome Boger correctly ruled that an illegal touch inside the 5-yard line is ruled a touchback.

H/t @bubbaprog/Deadspin

Sun • 4:17 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Browns at Ravens (video)

In four downs, Ravens go approximately 9 yards, 353132 inches. Bill Vinovich has to get on his knees and pull out his penalty card to ensure there is a gap between the ball at the inside plane of the first-down stake.

Sun • 4:08 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Browns at Ravens (video)

Head linesman Jim Mello (#48) with a critical spot on fourth down.  Referee Bill Vinovich calls for the chains and rules the spot short by no more than an inch.  The metal pole determines a first down or not, not the protective padding.

Sun • 4:01 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Titans at Texans (video)

Referee Jeff Triplette reverses his head linesman Phil McKinnley (#110) and awards a safety to the Texans.  The entire ball has to get out of the end zone in order for the offense to avoid the safety.

Sun • 3:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Washington at Green Bay (video)

gb pylon touchbackA catch and dive for the end zone by Packers receiver James Jones results in a touchback. Jones fumbled the ball, the loose ball contacting the pylon in the air. Because the pylon is the end zone plane and out of bounds, the ball is ruled out of bounds in the end zone. Therefore, it is a touchback, as ruled by side judge Ron Torbert.

Image: CBS Sports/NFL/@WorldofIsaac

Sun • 2:43 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chargers at Eagles (video)

Back judge Lee Dyer (#27), field judge Terry Brown (#43) and line judge Mark Steinkirchner (#84) team up on a fumble at the goal line.  Brown and Dyer did an excellent job to make sure that the ball didn’t break the plane of the goal line is San Diego possession for a touchdown.

Sun • 2:30 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Vikings at Bears (video)

The Bears Alshon Jeffrey takes an end around for a big gainer.  Note side judge Keith Washington, #7, keeping a cushion between Jeffrey and the goal line.  It used to be taboo for an official to turn his back on a play.  Today, officials are allowed to turn their back on the play and look over their shoulder. 

Sun • 1:41 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Washington at Green Bay

Side judge Ron Tobert astutely called Green Bay receiver Randall Cobb out of bounds while he was threading the sideline. He worked with the head linesman, but Torbert owned the call. Very important to be correct, because it is not reviewable. Had Torbert allowed the play to continue to a touchdown, it would be subject to review — and depending on the availability of conclusive evidence, may have let the touchdown stand.

Sun • 1:14 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Your referees for this week’s games and the crew lists (there may be some substitutions on crews).

Mon • 12:07 am EDT • Mark Schultz

Referee Bill Leavy admits his crew mis-enforced the penalties on the Matthews/Kaepernick play. He spoke to a pool reporter after the game.

Sun • 10:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Vikings at Lions (video)

Lions netted out even on replay reviews on potential touchdown calls. Both plays are in the above video link.

  • A touchdown catch by receiver Calvin Johnson was overturned because he did not control the ball through the process of the catch. While going to the ground, you must maintain possession of the ball through to the ground. In this case, the ball contacted the ground somewhere in the process of the catch (video).
  • While extending the ball to the goal line, running back Joique Bell was ruled to have fumbled and turned over to the Vikings. On the review, the call was reversed, giving Bell the touchdown, breaking the plane of the goal just prior to losing the ball (video).

Sun • 8:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bengals at Bears (video at 2:59)

Trailing by three points on defense, the Bengals were able to stop the Bears on third down, setting up a punting situation with about a minute to go. However, Bengals linebackerRey Maualuga executed a takedown of one of the Bears lineman at the end of the play, drawing an unnecessary roughness penalty. The Bears got the automatic first down instead, and ran out the clock in the game.

Sun • 8:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Buccaneers at Jets (video at 2:26)

Jets were propelled into position for a game-winning field goal by a late hit penalty. Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David pushed Jets quarterback Geno Smith while Smith was stepping out of bounds. It was a pivotal call, but correct. (See Deadspin for an animated image)

Sun • 8:02 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Raiders at Colts

defenseless_branch2defenseless_banch1Raiders safety Tyvon Branch was called for a hit on a defenseless player. With Colts receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey extending for the first-down line, Branch lowered his helmet to drive Heyward-Bey backwards. Because Hayward-Bey is in the process of being tackled by two other Raiders players, he is, therefore, unable to protect himself from a blow to the head. This is one of the 10 defined instances of a defenseless player in Rule 12-2-7(a):

(3) A runner already in the grasp of a tackler and whose forward progress has been stopped

h/t tuckerewell (forum)

Sun • 7:02 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at 49ers (video)

The offsetting penalties in the continuing action after a Colin Kaepernick scramble is now its own post.

Sun • 2:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Seahawks at Panthers (video)

Jeff Triplette sent Panthers defensive lineman Frank Alexander to the showers early. Alexander threw a punch right in front of Triplette and was ejected.

Sun • 2:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Titans at Steelers

boger_huddleUnusual sight here, as Jerome Boger’s entire crew gathered to discuss the safety call. Usually, it would be the referee with the two linesman on a play like this, with the other officials keeping players at a distance or tamping down an irate coach.

Sun • 2:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Titans at Steelers (video)

reynaud_safetyTitans kick returner Darius Reynaud placed his team down 2-0 on the opening kickoff of the season. Reynaud was ruled to have fielded the ball outside of the end zone, pulling it back into the end zone, and taking a knee. It is a safety, because Reynaud caused the ball to enter the end zone, not the kick. If the kicked ball broke the plane of the goal, then it would be the kicking team responsible for the ball entering the end zone, and would be a touchback. Also, if Reynaud had muffed the ball in the field of play, but the impetus of the kicked ball sent it in the end zone, it would also be ruled a touchback.

Because Reynaud took a knee, he did not need to be touched by an opponent to rule the play dead; the kneeldown kills the play.

Fri • 1:56 am EDT • Ben Austro

4th qtr | 12:35 | video via Deadspin. We have the rundown tof the Danny Trevathan fumble in its own post.

Fri • 1:01 am EDT • Mark Schultz

Mike Pereira tweeted that the Ravens lined up in an illegal formation tonight.  In order for an offensive lineman to be considered on the line of scrimmage, his helmet has to penetrate the waist of the snapper.  The interior linemen many times tonight didn’t even line up their helmets on the butt of the snapper.  Pereira says the officials should have thrown a flag for illegal formation – not enough men on the line of scrimmage.  The head linesmen and line judge are responsible for that call.  While a technical or “picky” flag, the illegal formation gives the offensive linemen an unfair advantage when it comes time to pass block.  Does Dean Blandino and his observers agree with Pereira?  We don’t know.

Thu • 11:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 12:31 | video. Side judge Rick Patterson was all over the feet of Broncos receiver Andre Caldwell on the third quarter touchdown.

Thu • 9:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Deadspin has video of a pregame ritual that is usually unseen: a uniform check for foreign substances requiring a pat down from back judge Greg Yette.

Thu • 9:32 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The referee has authority to suspend play, but he usually will restart the game in consultation with a game supervisor or the commissioner. Rule 17, Section 1, Article 5:

The League employees vested with the authority to define emergencies under these procedures are the Commissioner, designated representatives from his League office staff, and the game Referee. In those instances where neither the Commissioner nor his designated representative is in attendance at a game, the Referee will have sole authority; provided, however, that if a Referee delays the beginning of or interrupts a game for a significant period of time due to an emergency, he must make every effort to contact the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designated representative for consultation. In all cases of significant delay, the League authorities will consult with the management of the participating clubs and will attempt to obtain appropriate information from outside sources, if applicable (e.g., weather bureau, police).

Thu • 9:18 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Officials spotting chart

      Yrs 2012 crew
R 65 Walt Coleman 25  
U 81 Roy Ellison 11 *
HL 91 Jerry Bergman 12 *
LJ 59 Rusty Baynes 4 Parry
FJ 80 Greg Gautreaux 12 *
SJ 15 Rick Patterson 18 *
BJ 38 Greg Yette 4 *
Replay official: Bob Boylston
Replay assistant: Jim Grant

Wed • 2:43 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

NFL modifies the “red flag rule.”  If a coach throws a challenge flag on a play that is already subject to review, the coach will still be penalized, but the play will still be reviewed. 

Wed • 2:39 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Here’s a news story about the rule changes.

Wed • 2:37 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

In a surprise move, owners vote 31-1 to outlaw the ball carrier from lowering his helmet to meet a defender.  This is surprising since the coaches spoke out strongly against this proposal earlier in the week.  This rule applies to all ball carriers who are outside the tackle box.

Wed • 2:36 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Tuck rule, RIP.  The owners vote overwhelmingly to eliminate the infamous tuck rule.

Tue • 2:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Judy Battista of the New York Times is reporting two proposals have passed.

Mon • 2:54 am EDT • Ben Austro

My coverage of his assignment notwithstanding, Jerome Boger headed two solid playoff games this year. It was a great accomplishment for him. Boger held together quite a great game despite several obstacles: an extra-long halftime, a half-hour delay that had to be draining, and scrapiness from both sides of the ball.

stelljes_shoveI thought that Ravens cornerback Cary Williams should have been ejected for shoving head linesman Steve Stelljes. Players have been tossed for far less. Of course, this evokes the way that Panthers quarterback Cam Newton got a free pass from Jerome Boger when Boger was bumped by Newton. Newton was not ejected, and an official I talked to said this was no question supposed to be an ejection. (This is one of the eight dings that appeared on Boger’s record that disappeared.)

In the Super Bowl, it was not Boger’s decision to eject or not eject because he was not a witness to the shove. The rulebook says very clearly that an official must witness the entire offense to rule on the ejection.

As far as I know, no player has been ejected from the Super Bowl.

There appeared to be a non-call for taunting on Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin. I can see letting that go, but the pot was starting to bubble under the lid.

The holding/defensive pass interference non-call was a good call. When a receiver runs a route right at a defensive back and bumps him, there is an  acceptable amount of holding that does happen, because the receiver initiated the holding. In this case, there was mutual pushing, so it all waves off. There needed to be a more egregious restriction of the receiver in order to draw a foul.

Together, it was an even-called game. The points of disagreement were true judgement calls; there wasn’t anything that really moved out of a gray area throughout the game.

And so begins the offseason. As Jerome Boger would say, “Let’s go.”

Mon • 12:58 am EDT • Mark Schultz

Field judge Craig Wrolstad showed unconventional mechanics on the Frank Gore 33-yard run late in the fourth quarter (video).  On a play like that, Wrolstad should have retreated toward the goal line to rule on a potential touchdown.  Line judge Byron Boston was responsible for the out of bounds spot all the way down the sideline.  Why was Wrolstad coming toward the play instead of retreating?  If you look closely, a Ravens and 49ers player had locked up in a block and both went out of bounds still engaged.  My best guess is that Wrolstad thought the play wasn’t going to go for 33-yards and he was going to go out of bounds to make sure those two blockers didn’t start a fight in the midst of the team bench, while Boston got the forward progress spot.

Sun • 11:08 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Boger’s crew had a very good game.  He was thrown a monkey wrench with the blackout, and his “let’s go” call to resume play was a nice added touch.  Darrell Jenkins had a very quiet night; I don’t think he even threw a flag.  Stelljes and Boston worked a very good game and had really tough line of scrimmage calls.  How would you like to have the Harbaugh brothers be in your ear all night?  Larrew, Wrolstad, and Paganelli had some really close calls downfield, but it looks like they were all called correctly.  My only real complaint in the game was early on when Larrew didn’t call a taunting foul that could have set to tone and knocked out the chippy play.

All in all, the crew called a very good game and all seven officials can be proud of their efforts.

Sun • 9:55 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

So far, through three quarters, the officiating crew has done a very good job.  The only complaint I have is the lack of flags for chippy play before the melee.  But, in my opinion, all of the judgement calls have been correct.

Sun • 9:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 7:28. 49ers — Michael Crabtree 31 yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick 

3rd Qtr | 5:05. 49ers — Frank Gore 6 yard touchdown run

3rd Qtr | 3:14. 49ers — Akers 21 yard field goal.

Fourth quarter scoring summary will be unavailable due to server issues.

Sun • 9:10 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The Superdome had a power failure that began at 7:38 p.m. local time. A delay ensued until 8:08 p.m. local time.

Sun • 8:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 15:00. Ravens — Jacoby Jones 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.Ravens 28-3.

Sun • 8:10 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :00. 49ers — David Akers 27-yard field goal. Ravens 21-6.

Sun • 7:47 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 1:58. Ravens — Jacoby Jones 56-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Ravens 21-3.

Sun • 7:44 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

In the melee after the Kaepernick interception, several officials were roughed up in the scrum.  This is what happens when officials don’t flag chippy action after the whistle.  It escalates and you get a fracas.  Hopefully both teams will settle down.

Update:  Video of incident.

Sun • 7:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 7:15. Ravens — Dennis Pitta 1-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Ravens 14-3.

Sun • 7:08 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

1st Qtr. | 1:02.  I understand that this is the Super Bowl and this is a high emotion game, but I would have preferred to see side judge Joe Larrew throw an unsportsmanlike conduct flag on Anquan Boldin after he taunted the 49ers defender after that long catch.

Sun • 7:02 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 4:03. 49ers — David Akers 36-yard field goal. Ravens 7-3.

Sun • 6:49 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

1st Qtr. | 10:42.  Great job by back judge Dino Paganelli to hold his touchdown signal until the WR completed the catch, which included running into the goal post!

Sun • 6:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 10:42. Ravens — Anquan Boldin 13-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Ravens 7-0.

Sun • 6:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr  14:50. Good call right out of the chute for umpire Darrell Jenkins. Tight end was covered by a wideout on the line of scrimmage which is an illegal formation foul.

Wed • 8:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The roughing-the-passer rule is by the book. Sorry it was missing from our coverage, because it seemed very routine.

There is a recognition that, during the normal course of play, the quarterback is going to have incidental hits to the head. However, there also is a recognition that the quarterback should not be subject to a cheap head slap by an onrushing defender just because he couldn’t control his arms. This was typically seen that a defensive lineman “sends a message” to the quarterback on a near-sack by slapping the quarterback’s head. So, the Competition Committee issued a point of emphasis for referees to watch unnecessary contact to the quarterback’s head.

In this case, the defender had his hands up at “12 o’clock” and chopped down and contacted the quarterback’s helmet. Because it was a forcible blow, and not simply brushing the helmet, this was a textbook foul, and Terry McAulay did not hesitate in throwing a flag.

Mon • 10:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

I missed uploading this on Sunday night, so here it is. After the helmet-to-helmet contact that was called against Bernard Pollard earlier in the game (which was called correctly), the Patriots Jerod Mayo should have been flagged for his hit on Dennis Pitta. It looks like Mayo turned his head, but he still make contact with his helmet on Pitta’s helmet.

GIF Animation at Mocksession

Mon • 10:06 am EDT • Mark Schultz

Bill Leavy spoke to a pool reporter regarding the Stevan Ridley fumble. Here is the transcript, in its entirety:

Q: Can you give an explanation on what you saw in the hood when you went to review the fumble in the fourth quarter that confirmed the ruling on the field?

 Leavy: What I saw was the receiver was going to the ground, had both legs off the ground, no body part was on the ground. The ball hit his knee and dislodged from his hand before the rest of his body hit the ground, therefore it was a fumble and we confirmed it.


Mon • 1:15 am EDT • Ben Austro

Final, Ravens 28-13

Baltimore advances to Super Bowl XLVII

Penalties — Ravens 5 for 60 yards, Patriots 4 for 40 yards, plus 1 double-foul declined. Replay reviews — Replay official challenged 2 Patriots turnovers in the 4th quarter; both were confirmed.

Mon • 12:40 am EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 12:46 | video. On a run by Stevan Ridley, he was hit in the helmet, fell to the ground, and lost control of the ball. The call by line judge Jeff Seeman was a fumble. Ridley was injured on the play, so the focus was shifted on his well-being as the television broadcast went to commercial.

Replay official Mark Burns buzzed down during the commercial for Leavy to take a closer look. Upon review, it was apparent that Ridley was very close to being down by contact. However, just a few inches separate Ridley’s leg from the ground when he loses control of the ball. (The image here shows when the ball touches his leg, the instant he loses control of the ball.)

Even with the benefit of replay, it looked like he was down by contact. It wasn’t until I saw the video stopped at this point was I convinced.

Sun • 11:41 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :26 | GIF animation | video. On a scramble by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, he slides feet first to declare himself down immediately. However, in the slide Brady stuck his foot out, which could have drawn an unneccessary roughness foul. It was incidental enough, however, if there had been more contact with the foot, it would have certainly been a penalty. Oddly, it might have worked in the Patriots favor, as they were confused as to which play to call, and a timeout was taken with 4 seconds remaining in the half. If the penalty was called, yes, they would have lost the 15 yards, but they would have had 18 seconds on the clock.

It was a poor slide by Brady, much like what the ball-throwing dad in the VW commercials might demonstrate to his kid.

(h/t for animation from Mocksession)

Sun • 11:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 2:00 | video. Tom Brady changes direction in a run up the middle. Unfortunately, that was where umpire Chad Brown was. There is no recourse for this, and nor should there be, as Brady ran right at Brown. Brown did what he could to get out of the way.

Since it was the first play after the two-minute warning, Brown had just moved his position from the offensive backfield to behind the linebackers. Had this play occurred before the two-minute warning,  Brown would not have been there.

Sun • 9:13 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 11:13. Ravens — Anquan Boldin 11-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Ravens 28-13.

Sun • 9:03 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 14:56. Ravens — Anquan Boldin 3-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Ravens 21-13.

Sun • 8:59 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 3rd Quarter

Sun • 8:41 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 6:14. Ravens — Dennis Pitta 5-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Ravens 14-13.

Sun • 8:30 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

3rd Qtr. | 11:12.  Officials are taught to err on the side of safety when it comes to head shots.  Bernard Pollard (Leavy announced the wrong number) hit the Patriots receiver above the shoulders.  The league will support that personal foul call.

Sun • 8:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :00. Patriots — Steven Gostkowski 25-yard field goal. Patriots 13-7.

Sun • 7:46 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 4:18. Patriots — Wes Welker 1-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady. Patriots 10-7.

Sun • 7:42 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 9:28. Ravens — Ray Rice 2-yard touchdown run. Ravens 7-3.

Sun • 7:34 pm EDT • Ben Austro

On the intentional-grounding pickup, I would have held the flag until talking to the line judge. Minor quibble.

Sun • 7:26 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

1st Qtr. | 1:05.  Good crew communication between Leavy, Seeman, and Veteri on picking up the intentional grounding flag.

Sun • 7:26 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 1st Quarter

Sun • 7:25 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 6:21. Patriots — Stephen Gostkowski 31-yard field goal. Patriots 3-0.

Sun • 7:16 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Leavy is wearing a down indicator on each hand.  One hand helps him keep track of the down, the other indicator helps him know the position of the ball between the hashes in case they have to re-spot the ball after a penalty or incomplete pass.  Or instance, if the placement indicator is on his left hand, pinky is left hash, ring finger is half way between hash and center, middle finger is center of the field, pointer finger is half way between center and right hash, and thumb is right hash. 

Sun • 6:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

This is Leavy’s 15th postseason assignment, including 4 wild cards, 8 divisional playoffs, his first conference championship, and Super Bowls XXXIV and XL. It is very unusual for Leavy to have not worked a conference championship but participated in two Super Bowls. At the referee position, you must have a prior conference championship at any position to be eligible to work a Super Bowl. In Leavy’s case, he already worked a Super Bowl as a back judge in his first year he was qualified to do so, thus the conference championship requirement was not enforced.

Sun • 6:40 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

1sr Qtr. | 15:00.  Emotions and tensions are running very high.  Crew needs to be on high alert to keep a lid on things, and get between players and point them to neutral corners after every play.

Sun • 6:28 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Final, 49ers 28-24

San Francisco advances to Super Bowl XLVII

Penalties — Niners 4 for 40 yards, Falcons 2 for 30 yards. Replay reviews — The 49ers challenged a Falcons completion which was upheld (call “stands”). The replay official challenged the Falcons touchdown at 14:54 of second quarter, and it was confirmed.

Sun • 6:06 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

4th Qtr. | 1:09.  I tweeted to Jim Daopoulos asking the officiating expert if there was illegal contact on 4th down incomplete pass by the Falcons.  Daopoulos said the contact was within five yards to it was a legal play.

Sun • 5:39 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 8:23. 49ers — Frank Gore 9-yard touchdown run. 49ers 28-24.

Sun • 5:34 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 1:55. A lot of questions whether the 49ers had a legal formation on the Vernon Davis touchdown. Number 85 is not covered by number 46 (nearest to camera), although it looks close.

Sun • 5:29 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

4th Qtr. | 13:21 | video.  Excellent work by the officials on the Crabtree fumble at the goal line.  Line judge Tom Stephan did a great job holding his whistle as Crabtree failed to break the plane of the goal line.  Great hustle by umpire Carl Paganelli to dive into the pile during that critical momentum changing scrum.

Sun • 5:06 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 10:47. 49ers — Frank Gore 5-yard touchdown run. Falcons 24-21.

Sun • 4:57 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Halftime, Falcons 24-14

Penalties — Niners 3 for 19 yards, Falcons 1 for 15. Replay reviews — The replay official called for a review on a touchdown that was confirmed.

Sun • 4:33 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :25. Falcons — Tony Gonzalez 10-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan. Falcons 24-14.

Sun • 4:23 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 1:55. 49ers — Vernon Davis 4-yard touchdown pass from Colin Kaepernick. Falcons 17-14.

Sun • 4:21 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 3:00. Falcons are hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct unnecessary roughness foul with some post-play locking up. Falcons defender threw a player to the ground, right at the dead-ball spot, which will be called 100 times out of 100. It added to a 49ers touchdown drive, so that might be enough to get both sides to settle down and play it cleanly.

Sun • 4:05 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 8:08. 49ers — LaMichael James 15-yard touchdown run. Falcons 17-7.

Sun • 3:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 14:54. Falcons — Julio Jones 20-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan. Falcons 17-0.

Side judge Gary Cavaletto and back judge Tony Steratore quickly confirm with each other on a very tight touchdown call. Confirmed by replay. GIF animation:

Sun • 3:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 1st Quarter

Sun • 3:37 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 3:12. Head linesman Wayne Mackie ruled down-by-contact prior to the ball being fumbled on the 49ers kickoff return. It was a quick and decisive call. And it was correct.

Sun • 3:31 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 3:20. Falcons — Matt Bryant 35-yard field goal. Falcons 10-0.

Sun • 3:21 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 11:24. Falcons — Julio Jones 46-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan. Falcons 7-0.

Sun • 3:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

McAulay is in his 12th postseason assignment: 2 wild cards, 1 divisional playoff, 7 conference championships, and Super Bowls XXXIX and XLIII.

Sun • 8:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Third Quarter scoring

  • 11:34 Patriots – Stevan Ridley 8-yard touchdown run. Patriots 24–13. 
  • 1:25. Patriots – Brandon Lloyd 5-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady. Patriots 31–13.

Sun • 8:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Fourth Quarter scoring

  • 13:13 Patriots – Shane Vereen 33-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady Patriots 38–13.
  • 11:42 Texans – DeVier Posey 25-yard touchdown pass from Matt Schaub. Patriots 38–20.
  • 5:15. Texans – Arian Foster 1-yard touchdown  pass from Matt Schaub (2-point conversion). Patriots 38–28.
  • 1:18. Patriots – Stephen Gostkowski 38-yard field goal. Patriots 41–28.

Sun • 8:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 10:56. What initially appeared to be a Patriots fumble recovery went down this way:

  • Texans quarterback Matt Schaub completed a pass to tight end Owen Daniels. The process of the catch was completed when Daniels turned upfield. Daniels was wrapped up immediately at the Texans’ 25, maybe closer to the 26-yard line.
  • Daniels was being pulled down and lost the possession of the ball at roughly the 24-yard line.
  • Swarm ensues and about 3 seconds later, a whistle is heard. (The whistle should not sound much sooner than that, or you risk an inadvertent whistle.)
  • Head linesman Steve Stelljes calls it forward progress at that point and marks the spot at roughly the 25. He is sounding his whistle, but it is hard to hear.
  • Umpire Garth DeFelice enters the pile to determine possession, assuming it is a fumble. He cannot see nor hear Stelljes. Corrente zips into the pile as well. Because DeFelice and Corrente are in the offensive backfield, they are not in a position to judge forward progress on this play, so they have ruled fumble.
  • Stelljes is signalling dead ball at the 25-yard line, but needs to make Corrente aware of the call. The back judge and line judge race into the pile to get Corrente while Stelljes holds the spot.
  • While Corrente and five officials conference, DeFelice emerges from the pile to signal Patriots ball. He is unaware there is a contrary ruling.
  • Corrente immediately got on the microphone to indicate forward progress, but most of the announcement was lost in the cheering of DeFelice’s signal.

It’s quite understandable how this situation developed, but it was correctly ruled, decisively and quickly. It took you longer to read this description than the duration of the play and ultimate ruling.

Sun • 6:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | about 1:00. Texans were flagged for roughing the kicker, but Corrente and DeFelice discussed it over and picked up the flag. Corrente announced that the defender rolled over another player, and was not illegal. A review of the video shows that the Texans blocker contacted (very slightly) into the punter’s leg, so the roughing call should have stood. In addition, the punter did not have a place to land after the kick, so it is a dangerous play.

Sun • 6:02 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 1:15. Texans — Arian Foster 1-yard touchdown run. Patriots 17-10. The replay official challenged if Foster broke the plane of the goal line. Corrente determined there was not enough video evidence to overturn.

Sun • 5:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 3:38. Patriots — Shane Vereen 8-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady. Patriots 17-3.

Sun • 5:51 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 10:56.Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd, after a catch, flicks the ball at umpire Garth DeFelice. DeFelice takes it as aggression against an official. Animated GIF of the play, h/t Bleacher Report

Sun • 5:42 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 10:16. Patriots — Steve Gostkowski 37-yard field goal. Patriots 10-3.

Sun • 5:41 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 1:28. On the play prior to the touchdown run, umpire Garth DeFelice was relaying the ball to the sideline. When he turned around, the Patriots were already lined up for a quick snap. With the ball inside the 5-yard line, DeFelice should have gone to his position behind the linebackers in the end zone. Since that was not feasible, he stayed in his ordinary position in the offensive backfield.


Sun • 5:41 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 1:28. Patriots — Shane Vereen 27-yard field goal. Patriots 7-3.

Sun • 5:39 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 13:57. Texans — Shayne Graham 27-yard field goal. Texans 3-0.

Sun • 4:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Final, Falcons 30-28

Sun • 4:23 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | :08. Falcons — Matt Bryant 48-yard field goal. Falcons 30-28.

Sun • 4:16 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | :34 Seahawks — Marshawn Lynch 1-yard touchdown run. Seahawks 28-27.

The replay official called for a review of the ball breaking the plane of the goal prior to being fumbled. Walt Coleman confirmed the touchdown call.

Sun • 3:36 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 9:13. Seahawks — Zach Miller 3-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson. Falcons 27-21.

Sun • 3:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 13:01. Seahawks — Russell Wilson 1-yard touchdown run. Falcons 27-14.

Sun • 3:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 3rd Quarter, Falcons 27-7.

Sun • 3:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 2:11. Falcons — Jason Snelling 5-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan. Falcons 27-7. The extra-point attempt was blocked, but the Seahawks were offsides, so the penalty allows the Falcons to re-try from the 1-yard line. On the second extra-point attempt, the Seahawks were again offsides. Since the second attempt succeeded, the 5-yard penalty was assessed on the kickoff.

Sun • 3:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 9:47.Seahawks — Golden Tate 29-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson. Falcons 20-7.

Sun • 2:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Halftime, Falcons 20-0

Penalties — Seahawks: 4 for 20 yards. Falcons: 2 for 10 yards. Replay reviews — 1 called by the replay booth on a touchdown catch, call was confirmed.

Sun • 2:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :00. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was sacked at the 20-yard line with about 10 seconds remaining. With less than 2 minutes remaining in the half, the clock does not stop on a quarterback sack. Since it was 4th down, the Seahawks could not spike the ball to stop the clock, because that consumes a down.

The on-screen graphic indicated there may have been 1 second remaining on the clock. However, since the Seahawks lineman had not been set when the clock showed :01, no legal snap could have taken place at that point. The line judge was watching the clock, primarily, in this situation.

The umpire could not take time off the clock to fine-tune the spot of the ball, but the Seahawks might have lost about a yard on the sack.

Sun • 2:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 4:16. Falcons — Roddy White 47-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan. Replay official challenged the catch ruling, and the play was confirmed. Falcons 20-0.

Sun • 2:01 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 9:13. Falcons — Matt Bryant 37-yard field goal. Falcons 13-0.

Sun • 1:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 1st Quarter, Falcons 10-0

Sun • 1:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 3:27. Two solid boundary calls: first, a catch by Falcons tight end Chase Coffman at the 1-yard line was correctly ruled in real time as side judge Rick Patterson and head linesman Mark Hittner both collaborated on the catch call. Generally, the nearest official watches the feet, and the other official will help with a ruling of control or whether the receiver bobbled the ball.

On the next play, tight end Tony Gonzalez caught a ball at the back of the end zone, inches from the end line. Back judge Greg Yette had the call correct in real time without the benefit of replay.

Update: video of the touchdown catch.

Sun • 1:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 3:10. Falcons — Tony Gonzalez 1-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan. Falcons 10-0.

Sun • 1:26 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 9:20. Matt Bryant 32-yard field goal. Falcons 3-0.

Sat • 11:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Final, 49ers 45-31

Penalties — Packers: 5 for 26 yards. 49ers: 8 for 86 yards. Replay — 2 booth reviews, no coaches challenges:

  • 49ers completion reversed to incomplete pass, out of bounds (inside 2 minutes)
  • Dixon touchdown upheld that he broke the plane of goal line, no indisputable evidence to overturn (scoring play).

Sat • 11:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

49ers, Anthony Dixon 2-yard touchdown run.

Sat • 11:13 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Don’t want to jinx it, but the Boger crew is calling a very smooth game. 

Sat • 11:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 14:57. 49ers, Frank Gore 2-yard run. 49ers 38-24.

Sat • 10:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 3rd Quarter, 49ers 31- 24

Sat • 10:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr. | 7:07. 49ers, Colin Kaepernick 56-yard touchdown run. 49ers 31-24.

Sat • 10:41 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 8:38. Packers, Mason Crosby 31-yard field goal. Tied 24-24.

Sat • 10:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Halftime, 49ers 24-21

Penalties — Packers: 2 for 11 yards. 49ers: 6 for 64 yards. Replay — 1 challenge by replay official; competed pass overturned as incomplete, out of bounds.

Sat • 10:26 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 1:54. A sideline catch was ruled a completion, although there was a discussion on the call prior to being ruled a completion. After review, Boger reversed the call to an incomplete pass, ruling that 49ers receiver Delanie Walker had touched his hand out of bounds prior to having his second foot down in bounds.

Sat • 9:46 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr. | 1:09. Referee Jerome Boger threw a flag for a facemask foul. Boger was talked out of it by his line judge, but there was a clear pulling by the facemask. Boger should have stuck with the call that he saw.

Sat • 9:45 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Final/2OT, Ravens 38-35

Length of game — 76 minutes, 42 seconds. Fourth longest game in NFL history. Duration of game 4 hours, 11 minutes.

Penalties — Ravens: 8 for 58 yards (plus one declined). Broncos: 10 for 87 yards. Replay reviews — 1 challenge by the Ravens, 3 challenges by replay official:

  • Ravens challenge of a Broncos first-down ruling was upheld (inconclusive evidence to overturn).
  • A replay official challenge of a Broncos fumble was upheld (inconclusive evidence of tuck rule).
  • In overtime, booth challenges of a Ravens completion and a Broncos completion were confirmed.

Double overtime games, NFL history

Listed by length of overtime period.

  • 22:40—Miami Dolphins 27, Kansas City Chiefs 24, Dec. 25, 1971 (AFC Divisional Playoffs).
  • 17:54—Dallas Texans 20, Houston Oilers 17, Dec. 23, 1962 (AFL Championship).
  • 17:02—Cleveland Browns 23, New York Jets 20, Jan. 3, 1987 (AFC Divisional Playoffs).
  • 16:42—Baltimore Ravens 38, Denver Broncos 35, Jan. 12, 2013 (AFC Divisional Playoffs).
  • 15:43—Oakland Raiders 37, Baltimore Colts 31, Dec. 24, 1977 (AFC Divisional Playoffs).
  • 15:10—Carolina Panthers 29, St. Louis Rams 23, Jan. 10, 2004 (NFC Divisional Playoffs).

(Note: The Dallas Texans are currently the Kansas City Chiefs, the Houston Oilers are currently the Tennessee Titans, and the Baltimore Colts are now in Indianapolis.)


Sat • 9:40 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

2nd Qtr | 6:13.  The taunting call on Kaepernick was the easiest call of the day for the officials.  Since it was a dead ball foul it did not cost the 49ers their first down. 

Sat • 9:14 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

2nd Qtr. | 11:43.  Back judge Dino Paganelli and field judge Scott Edwards both do a great job holding their whistles and properly ruling a 49ers recovery on the muffed punt.

Sat • 8:40 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

FYI, the longest game ever played was the 1971 AFC divisional playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins on December 25, 1971, at 82-minutes and 40 seconds.

Sat • 8:11 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of regulation, tied 35-35.

Sat • 8:11 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 0:31. Jacoby Jones 70-yard touchdown pass form Joe Flacco. Tied 35-35.

Sat • 7:40 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 7:11. Broncos, Demaryius Thomas 17-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning. Broncos 35-28.

Sat • 7:38 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 3rd Quarter

Sat • 7:37 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | :20. Ravens, Ray Rice 1-yard touchdown run. Tied 28-28.

Sat • 7:25 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 2:55. A sack on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was a forced-fumble recovery for the Ravens. The replay official challenged the ruling, because it looked like the Tuck Rule was in effect. If Manning, after initiating a passing motion, did not tuck the ball back to his body, the dropped ball would be ruled incomplete pass.

Vinovich reviewed the play and said the play “stands.” Because Manning appeared to pull the ball in to his leg, Vinovich felt there was not enough evidence to overturn the fumble. However, he did not definitively rule that a Manning had completed the tuck under the tuck rule. Therefore, the call of a fumble recovery by the Ravens was allowed to stand.

Sat • 7:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 11:26. A bizarre exchange on a fumble by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Two illegal-hands-to-the-face fouls were called (one should not have been called). There was confusion because of the two fouls being the same on different players. Then, the enforcement around the fumble involved an unusual enforcement spot.

Usually, the foul is from the previous spot. Because there was a fumble, the fumbling team does not gain an advantage by going back to the previous spot if it is a more advantageous spot. In this case, it goes to the spot of the fumble, but all penalties against the defense, no matter where their enforcement points are, must get the ball back to the line of scrimmage. A defensive foul does not net a loss for the offense.

Further, it looked like the fumble should not have been ruled, because Manning’s knee appeared to be down at the time he lost the ball. It was just an ugly play, exacerbated by a clumsy enforcement. To be fair, any double-foul-with-a-change-of-possession play is not easy, but they did not inspire confidence in their call.

Sat • 6:37 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

3rd Qtr. | 11:52.  Good pass interference call on Ray Lewis.  He grabbed and turned the receiver.

Sat • 6:36 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr| 14:47. Broncos, Trindon Holliday 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Broncos 28-21.

Sat • 6:30 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Halftime, tied 21-21

Penalties — Ravens: 2 for 20 yards. Broncos: 4 for 45 yards. Replay — A Baltimore challenge of a first-down spot stands with no indisputable evidence.

Sat • 6:26 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | 2:00. On a 4th-and-1, a run up the middle for the Broncos was spotted near the first-down line. Vinovich immediately signaled first down, as the clock ran down to the two-minute warning. During the commercial, Vinovich decided to call for a measurement, which was about ½-football-length beyond the first down.

Ravens coach Jim Harbuagh called challenged the spot, but the call was upheld as “stands”. Because the definitive spot of the ball cannot be indisputably determined when the ball enters the pile, there was no new spot that Vinovich could rule in replay. The Ravens lost the challenge.

Sat • 6:06 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :36 Torrey Smith 32-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Tied, 21-21.

Sat • 6:03 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 1:21. Matt Prater 52-yard field goal attempt is short. Broncos 21-14.

Sat • 5:52 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Head linesman George Hayward uses a plastic whistle with a pea inside.  That pea has frozen.  The whistle will thaw at halftime but right now his whistle is emitting a weak squeak!

Sat • 5:47 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 7:26. Broncos, Knowshon Moreno 14-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning. Broncos 21-14.

Sat • 5:38 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 14:40. The Ravens were flagged for a facemask foul when there was no pulling of the facemask. The defender, Dannelle Ellbere, had a finger stuck on the facemask of Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno. But there was no grasp and twist of the facemask, so no foul should have been called.

Sat • 5:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro

On the Ravens’ pick-6 it looks like, in slow motion, that the defender got to the receiver prior to the ball. In real speed, it is nearly simultaneous. If it is that close, where there is only a split-second difference between the arrival of the defender and arrival of the ball, then no pass interference gets called.

Sat • 5:23 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

You can read about referee Bill Vinovich and his inspiring come back to the NFL after a life-threatening illness.

Sat • 5:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 1st Quarter, tied 14-14

Sat • 5:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Vinovich is in his first season back on the field from medical leave he took in 2006. He is in his 7th year and 4th as referee. This is his 4th postseason assignment, including 1 Wild Card Playoff, 2 Divisional Playoffs, and 1 Conference Championship.

Sat • 5:11 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

1st Qtr. | 4:02.  Outstanding touchdown call by side judge Ron Torbert.  Torbert was a Big 10 collegiate referee and I fully expect him to be appointed as a NFL referee very soon.

Sat • 5:07 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

1st Qtr. | Circa 5:00.  Umpire Undrey Wash comes out of the backfield to rule a pass incomplete in the flat.  He had the best view of it and wasn’t afraid to come from the backfield to wave it off.

Sat • 4:49 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

1st Qtr | 11:20.  Good DPI flag call against Denver.  As Vinovoch stated, the Ravens’ receiver was cut off of his route.

Mon • 1:01 am EDT • Ben Austro

After analyzing the intentional grounding call after the game, I noticed that initially the ball was spotted incorrectly. It had to be corrected with intervention of the game supervisor, much like what we saw in the replacement referee era.


Mike Carey (94) and LJ Tim Podraza are speaking to alternate referee John Parry (headset). Parry is in communication with the game supervisor and observer.

I had noted during the initial delay that an intentional grounding foul is a spot foul if it happens more than 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. In other words, since the quarterback is evading the sack, the team is penalized at least that distance they would have lost.

I figured that was accounted for, since head linesman Dana McKenzie was seen gesturing to a point, and then pointing backwards, as if to indicate a greater loss of yardage. This was during the lengthy (but necessary) discussion with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano on the 10-second runoff.

When the teams lined up, the Ravens took a timeout, with the ball spotted at the Colts 48 yard line (9 yards from the previous spot). During the timeout, Carey spoke with alternate referee John Parry, who is wearing a headset, communicating with game supervisor Johnny Grier and observer Phil Luckett. After the timeout, Carey announced the correct spot on the foul was the 41-yard line, and the ball was moved back.

We railed on this when it happened in the replacement era, so it is only fair to point it out in the playoffs. While the Ravens saved this crew’s bacon on the timeout, the Colts nearly were able to gain seven yards from the officials.

Sun • 10:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Seahawks 24-14, final


Seahawks: 4 for 30 yards. Redskins: 3 for 15.

Replay reviews

Just one review initiated by the replay official to confirm a touchdown by the Seahawks, which was not entirely necessary.

Sun • 8:57 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Here’s video of the Lynch touchdown in fourth quarter.  Line judge Mark Perlman and field judge John Lucivansky worked very well together on this play.  Lucivansky had Lynch over for a touchdown, but he looked to Perlman first to make sure the line judge had Lynch in-bounds the whole way to the goal line.  Good communication with crew-mates is vital to making a good NFL official.

Sun • 7:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 5:35. Seahawks 4th-and-goal from the 4. Steven Hauschka 22 yard field goal. Seahawks 24-14.

Sun • 7:12 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 7:20. Seahawks 3rd-and-5 from the Redskins 27. Marshawn Lynch 27 yard touchdown run. Two point conversion is good. Seahawks 21-14.

Sun • 6:48 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 3rd Quarter

Sun • 6:17 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Hopefully this doesn’t jinx things, but the crew is working well, despite the fact that they are cobbled together from five different crews.

Sun • 6:12 pm EDT • Ben Austro


Penalties — Seahawks 4 for 30 yards. Redskins: 1 for 5. Replay — no reviews.

Sun • 5:58 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :00. Seahawks 4th-and-2 from the Redskins 11. Steven Hauschka 29-yard field goal. Redskins 14-13.

Sun • 5:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 4:45. Seahawks 2nd-and-goal from the 4. Michael Robinson 4-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson. Redskins 14-10.

Sun • 5:40 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 8:33. Seahawks 4th-and-12 from the Redskins 14. Steven Hauschka 32 yard field goal. Redskins 14-3.

Sun • 5:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 1st Quarter

Sun • 5:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 2:31. Redskins 3rd-and-goal from the 4. Logan Paulsen 4 yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III. Redskins 14-0.

Sun • 5:17 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 10:00. Redskins 3rd-and-goal at the 4. Evan Royster 4 yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III. Redskins 7-0.

Sun • 4:53 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

1st Qtr | circa 10:00.  Awesome call by back judge Steve Freeman ruling the Redskins receiver out of bounds.  Remember there is no more force-out rule.  Freeman had a sharp angle to judge the play since he was so close to the receiver, but he nailed the call.

Sun • 4:29 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

This was an incredibly intense game today – such a contrast from yesterday’s games.  Carey and crew had several tough, bang-bang calls today and I think they got most, if not all, of them correct.  Carey’s crew can be proud of their efforts.

Sun • 4:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 6:54. Colts challenged an incomplete pass ruling where receiver did not complete the process of the catch. Because the receiver must maintain control through to the ground, the fact that the ball popped out a split second after touching the ground does not constitute possession. Even though the defender poked the ball, it is incomplete by rule.

This is specifically the type of play that spawns the “process of the catch” rule. In this case, the receiver did not have the ball for any appreciable amount of time, so it would be a cheap fumble if the Ravens were to recover the loose ball.

Sun • 4:09 pm EDT • Ben Austro

It was a correct call by the rule, as the helmets collided, but the defender did seem to avoid the contact. Could make a case that the receiver’s head contacted the defender.

Sun • 4:05 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

4th Qtr | 3:39.  Ravens called for personal foul for hitting a “defenseless player.”  Earlier this week Mike Pereira tried to provide come clarity to this rule.

Sun • 3:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 9:22. 2nd-and-10 from the Colts 18. Anquan Boldin 18-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Ravens 24-9.

Sun • 3:37 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 11:49. 4th-and-9 from the Ravens 22. Adam Vinatieri misses 40-yard field goal attempt, wide right. Ravens 17-9.

Sun • 3:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 3rd Quarter

Sun • 3:34 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | :44. 4th-and-4 from the Ravens 8. Adam Vinatieri 26-yard field goal. Ravens 17-9.

Sun • 3:13 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 8:33. 2nd-and-15 from the Colts 20. Dennis Pita 20 yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. Ravens 17-6.

Sun • 2:59 pm EDT • Ben Austro


Penalties — Colts: 2 for 22 yards, Ravens: 3 for 15. Replay — no reviews.

Sun • 2:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :00. Colts 4th-and-1 at the Ravens 34. Adam Vinatieri 52-yard field goal. Ravens 10-6.

Sun • 2:44 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :29. Andrew Luck throws an incomplete pass. Here is the process of the call:

  • Carey has to determine if Luck was out of the pocket and throws the ball to avoid the sack.
  • Carey has to confirm with the head linesman that the ball did not get to the line of scrimmage and that there was no receiver in the vicinity.
  • The ball was tipped, so they have to determine if that materially affected the flight of the ball towards the line of scrimmage.
  • Carey flags for intentional grounding.
  • Carey has to determine the spot of the pass. Since it was more than 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, the penalty is a spot foul, not 10 yards.
  • Because it was a foul that conserved time under 1 minute to play, it involves a 10-second runoff.
  • The Ravens are given the option to decline the 10-second runoff. They accept the runoff.
  • The Colts are given the option to counter the 10-second runoff by surrendering a timeout. They decline the option.
  • Carey has to announce this mess. A correct call all around by the crew.

Sun • 2:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :55. Ravens 1st-and-goal at the 2. Vonta Leach 2-yard touchdown run. Ravens 10-3.

Sun • 2:11 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 2:31. Colts 4th-and-7 at the Ravens 29. Adam Vinatieri 47-yard field goal. Tied 3-3.

Sun • 2:06 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr |8:19. Ravens special teamer David Reed downed a punt at the 2 yard line. There was a penalty for illegal touching, as Reed stepped out of bounds and was the first to touch the ball. When that penalty occurs inside the 5 yard line, a touchback is awarded.

Sun • 1:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 11:23. Ravens 4th-and-goal at the 5. Justin Tucker 23-yard field goal. Ravens 3-0.

Sun • 1:41 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 1st Quarter

Sun • 1:26 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

That fumble play is where having the umpire in the backfield hurts.  IF the umpire were in his traditional position behind the defensive line, he could have had a great look at the fumble and scrum.

Sun • 1:19 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Blogged too soon.  Looks like the Colt player didn’t have complete possession. 

Sun • 1:17 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

1st Qtr | 9:55.  Nice job by the officials to quickly rule Colts possession on the Ravens’ fumble.  Many times the fumbling team tries to steal the ball and trick the officials.  Carey’s crew was quick and decisive.

Sun • 1:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

SJ Laird Hayes worked in the Super Bowl last season, and had the call of the year.

Sun • 1:12 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Mike Carey is in his 23rd year and 17th as referee. This is his 18th postseason assignment (10 Wild Card Playoffs, 5 Divisional Playoffs, 2 Conference Championships, and Super Bowl XLII).

Sat • 11:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers 24-10, final

Penalties — Vikings: 4 for 30 yards, Packers: 2 for 10. Replays — Packers had a challenge of the ball not breaking the plane of the goal line, which was reversed to a touchdown.

Sat • 11:31 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

The Packers put this game away early and it was cruise control in the second half.  Green’s crew called a very smooth game and should be proud of their work.

Sat • 10:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 3:49. 1st-and-10 from the 50. Michael Jenkins 50-yard touchdown pass from Joe Webb. Packers 24-10.

Sat • 10:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 3rd Quarter

Sat • 10:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 9:32. Packers 1st-and-goal from the 9. John Kuhn 9-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers. Packers 24-3.

Sat • 10:05 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

As the temperature drops in Green Bay, the officials can take comfort that they have the best equipment to keep warm.  The officials from 40 years ago would be jealous

Sat • 9:32 pm EDT • Ben Austro


Penalties — Vikings: 3 for 25 yards, Packers: 1 for 5. Replay — Packers challenged (not breaking the plane of the goal) and the call was reversed.

Sat • 9:32 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | :42. Packers 2nd-and-goal on the 3.  John Kuhn 3-yard touchdown run. Packers 17-3.

Sat • 9:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd Qtr | 3:29. 4th-and-goal on the 1. Mason Crosby 20-yard field goal is good. Packers 10-3.

Sat • 8:58 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 1st Quarter

Sat • 8:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | :21 | video. Despite communication between the field judge and the side judge, neither could get a look at when the knee was down. After a replay challenge by Packers coach Mike McCarthy, it was determined that DuJuan Harris was not down prior to breaking the plane of the goal, and Green reversed the call. Harris did bobble the ball, but re-secured the ball as his knee was down, giving him the touchdown under either interpretation.

Sat • 8:48 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | :21. Packers 1st-and-goal from 9. DuJuan Harris, 9-yard touchdown run. Packers 7-3.

Sat • 8:21 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 9:26. Vikings 4th-and-7 on Packers 15. Blair Walsh 33-yard field goal is good. Vikings 3-0.

Sat • 7:59 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Texans 19-13, final

Penalties —  Bengals: 5 for 51 yards (plus one declined), Texans: 7 for 55. Replay reviews — Texans lost one challenge (call confirmed).

Sat • 7:51 pm EDT • Ben Austro

pick6_chopblockMike Pereira noted that there was a missed chop block call on the Bengals interception return for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter. At the left of the image (click to enlarge), two Texans engage a Bengals defender high and low illegally (video).

Since it is a personal foul on a scoring play, the 15 yards would have been applied on the kickoff, if it had been called.

Sat • 7:12 pm EDT • Ben Austro

jjwatt_sackRiveron makes sure that all parties go to their neutral corners after a sack by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt in the first quarter. (Houston Texans photo)

Sat • 7:10 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 9:08. Bengals ball, 4th-and-2 on the Texans 29. Josh Brown 47-yard field goal is good. Texans 19-13.

Sat • 7:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 14:21. Texans ball 4th-and-goal on the 6. Shayne Graham 24-yard field goal is good. Texans 19-10.

Sat • 6:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 3rd Quarter

Sat • 6:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 7:58 | Texans challenge. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw a forward pass while being hit. Ball fell incomplete and the Texans picked up the loose ball after the whistle. Texans coach Gary Kubiak believed it was a fumble.

Riveron correctly confirmed the call on the field. While Dalton was hit, he maintained a grip on the ball, enough to pass it. Now, the pass was lousy because he was hit, but Dalton’s arm was going forward with enough control of the ball to constitute possession.

Sat • 6:28 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 10:35. Texans ball, 2nd-and-goal at the 1. Arian Foster 1-yard touchdown run (Shayne Graham kick). Texans 16-7.

Sat • 6:21 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Not much mystery on the catch interference foul on the Bengals, as the receiver was tackled before the punt got there. It’s a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the foul.

Sat • 5:57 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 2nd Quarter

Penalties: Bengals 1 for 11 yards (plus one declined), Texans 1 for 5. Replay reviews: none.

Sat • 5:39 pm EDT • Football Zebras staff

2nd Qtr | 2:19 Texans ball, 4th-and-3 at the Bengals 4. Shayne Graham 22-yard field goal is good. Texans 9-7.

Sat • 5:26 pm EDT • Football Zebras staff

2nd Qtr | 9:38 Texans ball, 3rd-and-3 at the Texans 19. Matt Schaub pass is intercepted by Leon Hall, returned 21 yards for a touchdown (Josh Brown kick). Bengals 7-6.

Sat • 5:25 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

2nd Qtr | 9:30.  Nice job by line judge Gary Arthur on the Bengals pick-six.  He had to reverse his field quickly, watch the sidelines, and not run into any sideline personnel. 

Sat • 5:12 pm EDT • Football Zebras staff

2nd Qtr | 13:07 Texans ball,  4th-and-3 at the Bengals 9. Shayne Graham, 27-yard field goal is good. Texans 6-0.

Sat • 5:07 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

2nd Qtr | 15:00 Riveron’s crew had a very uneventful first quarter.  In my opinion all the fouls were there.  If there were any butterflies at the kickoff they should be gone by now.  The crew is in a good rhythm. 

Sat • 5:07 pm EDT • Ben Austro

End of 1st Quarter

Sat • 4:52 pm EDT • Football Zebras staff

1st Qtr | 7:54 Texans ball,  4th-and-2 at the Bengals 30. Shayne Graham, 48-yard field goal is good. Texans 3-0.

Sat • 4:44 pm EDT • Ben Austro

NBC just posted that this is Riveron’s third playoff game. Riveron did three playoff games as a side judge.

Sat • 4:37 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Alberto Riveron is officiating his first Wild Card game tonight. He headed the AFC Championship crew last year, and has worked three Divisional Playoffs.

Sun • 11:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cowboys at Redskins (video)

On a second quarter touchdown pass to Jason Witten, the 40-second play clock clearly expired prior to the snap. This should have killed the play and a delay of game penalty assessed. There is an acknowledged half-second advantage for the offense: the back judge must see 00 on the play clock, then look at the ball to see if it’s snapped. In that split second, the offense can get a snap without a penalty. In this case, there were several splits of a second, and back judge Billy Smith should have thrown the flag.

Sun • 11:40 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Cardinals at 49ers

The TV crew today mentioned that side judge, number 39, Don Carlsen is retiring after this season.  Carlsen has been a NFL line judge and side judge for 24 years.

Sun • 10:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Vikings (video)

On a pass to receiver James Jones, Jones was ruled to have fumbled prior to breaking the plane of the goal line. As we well know, turnovers are the exclusive domain of the replay official if there is a challenge. You see where this is going.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy threw a challenge flag, but the replay official had apparently already called for a review. The Packers bench now gets a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct foul for challenging a play they are not allowed to challenge. Ordinarily, this will also freeze the replay official from calling for a review, but since he already called for the review, the replay official is not prohibited from looking at the play.

The replay did show that Jones did break the plane of the goal, and the Packers got the touchdown on the reversal. But McCarthy nearly cost his team seven points.

Sun • 9:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Vikings

The Packers were not happy with Mike Carey and his crew today. It wasn’t a great game, but not all blame can go to Carey. At halftime, Packers coach Mike McCarthy told Fox Sports reporter Pam Oliver that the officials were slow in spotting the ball. In one instance, Carey was standing over the ball to prevent the snap. Although it wasn’t seen on television, the most likely reason was that the Packers substituted and attempted to quick snap to catch the Vikings in a change. The rule is that if the offense makes a substitution, the defense must get a chance to match up. No substitution on offense, then the defense doesn’t get a change to sub.

Sun • 6:17 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Raiders at Chargers (video)

Referee John Parry sent Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes and Raiders running back Mike Goodson to an early shower after locking up early in the game. While it does not seem like much to eject, it is possible that Parry issued warnings to both players or didn’t let up once Parry got between them.

Parry’s signature ejection call is “by virtue of his actions, number so-and-so is disqualified from further participation.” Didn’t hear that this time.

Sun • 2:25 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Ravens at Bengals

Apparently, referee Ron Winter let a four-letter word fly on an open microphone. (Of course, we will link to video if we find it.) The same thing happened to referee Tony Corrente this season, and Corrente was docked a game check. Today’s game likely will be a freebie for Winter.

Sun • 1:32 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Panthers at Saints

Looking to confirm, but it looks like back judge Rich Reels will be retiring after this season.


Mon • 12:42 am EDT • Mark Schultz

49ers at Seahawks (video)

Nice job by side judge Keith Parham on this juggling, toe-tapping touchdown by Delanie Walker.

Sun • 11:28 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Saints at Cowboys (video)

In overtime, Saints wide receiver Marques Colston fumbled the ball forward after a catch. Tight end Jimmy Graham was able to recover the ball at the 2-yard line. Despite the huge yardage advantage that the Saints gained, the ball is spotted at the point of recovery, not where the fumble occurred. Since the overtime follows the fourth-quarter rules, only fumbles that occur under two minutes are returned to the spot of the fumble (if recovered by a player other than the fumbler).

Sun • 10:39 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Giants at Ravens (video)

Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones scored an apparent touchdown on a 9-yard pass in the second quarter. It appears that there was control, two feet down, and a pivot-and-lunge to the end zone. I think that Jones completed the process of the catch, with the third item in my list being the “act common to the game”. Referee Carl Cheffers overturned the touchdown, saying that Jones did not complete that common act, and therefore the pass was incomplete: no touchdown. I disagree with the call (so does former vice-president of officiating Mike Pereira), but I’m hearing that the league office agrees with the call. The call should be considered a receiver going to the ground, and that adds the additional element: a player must control the ball all the way through to the ground.

Sun • 7:25 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Redskins at Eagles (video)

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw an incomplete pass with one second remaining on the clock. Referee Ed Hochuli added confusion to the mix with his call by saying the quarterback did not get the pass back to the line of scrimmage (implying an intentional grounding penalty). Then, Hochuli calls an illegal forward pass on Foles, although he must have meant intentional grounding. (If he was ruling that it touched an ineligible receiver, then it is illegal touching of a forward pass.) If the quarterback’s arm is constrained, a referee has discretion to waive the intentional grounding penalty if it materially affected the flight of the ball. In this case, Hochuli and his crew did not feel this was the case.

Because it conserves time, a grounding call carries a 10-second runoff, and the Eagles, without a timeout available, could not avoid the runoff, ending the game there. (Illegal forward passes behind the line of scrimmage are not penalized as a 10-second runoff.)

Sun • 6:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Raiders at Panthers (video)

cam_bogerPanthers quarterback stirs the pot with a kick to a Raiders defensive lineman after a sack in the second quarter. As an encore, Newton was pushed down after the pass (no call, but probably should have) and Newton snapped at referee Jerome Boger, bumping into him. This drew an immediate flag from Boger for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct foul. Newton is lucky he was not ejected (it’s not an automatic ejection, but in many cases it is), but I’m sure there is a high bar to clear before you eject a quarterback.

Tue • 12:34 am EDT • Mark Schultz

Jets at Titans (video)

Back judge Greg Yette and field judge Greg Gautreaux do a great job keeping up on this Chris Johnson 94-yard touchdown run.

Mon • 11:51 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Jets at Titans

The best team out there tonight was lead by referee Walt Coleman.

Mon • 12:36 am EDT • Mark Schultz

49ers at Patriots (video)

Side judge Keith Washington bumps into a bystander on the sidelines during a catch and run.  Fortunately it was a glancing blow or both Washington and the bystander could have been hurt.

Mon • 12:17 am EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Bears

According to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times, some Bears players were complaining in their post-game comments about three offensive pass interference calls against them. Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira saw all three calls and said they were all correctly called by Walt Anderson’s crew.

Sun • 11:23 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

49ers at Patriots

Good no-call on the Brady flea-flicker pass to Wes Welker.  Side judge Keith Washington immediately signaled that the pass was un-catchable, thus no pass interference. 

Edit: And, back judge Don Carey follows that no-call up with a good defensive pass interference flag.

Another Edit:  Mike Pereira disagrees with the Don Carey call.  Per twitter, Pereira says Carey should have not called the foul.

Sun • 11:07 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

49ers at Patriots (video)

Ed Hochuli’s crew sorts a complicated punt play.  Back judge Don Carey is in good position to rule on whether or not the ball touched the receiver and there is no evidence that would have overturned the play.  On top of that, the crew had to enforce a holding foul.  To make matters worse, the wet weather was causing Hochuli’s mic short out, making things more confusing!

Sun • 9:00 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Seahawks at Bills (video)

The Seahawks, up big late, run a fake punt for a first down.  While  not illegal, the necessity and sportsmanship of the play can be debated.  It is after plays like this that the losing team, feeling insulted, can take matters into their own hands to defend their pride.  I’m sure the officials became extra vigilant for rough play after that fake punt.

Sun • 8:09 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Steelers at Cowboys (video)

Back judge Terrance Miles shows off his speed and agility on this 60-yard pass.  The back judge has to be the fastest and most agile official on the crew.

Sun • 4:21 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Colts at Texans

Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct foul in the fourth quarter. Referee Jeff Triplette announced the foul was on the coach, but his microphone cut out, and the explanation of the call was not heard. CBS did not show any video of the coach, so it is unclear why he drew a bench foul.

Sun • 4:20 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Giants at Falcons (video)

Back judge Keith Ferguson has a hard time getting out of the way on this Tony Gonzalez touchdown and subsequent touchdown celebration!

Sun • 4:03 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Broncos at Ravens (video)

Back judge Rob Vernatchi rules the Ravens Dennis Pitta short of the goal line before field judge John Lucivansky confers with him and rules the play a touchdown.

Sun • 3:58 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Packers at Bears (video)

Back judge Billy Smith uses proper mechanics and positioning on this botched Green Bay backward pass and fumble trick play on a punt.

Sun • 3:47 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Colts at Texans (video)

Nice job by line judge Jeff Bergman to hold the whistle on fumble on the goal line.

Sun • 2:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Sandy Hook Elementary School (video)

20px-Black_ribbonThe NFL holds a moment of silence today in remembrance of the victims of the unfathomable tragedy of Newtown, Conn.

Fri • 5:48 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bengals at Eagles (video)

The Eagles were flagged with the rare “disconcerting signals” penalty, in this case simulating the cadence of the holder’s snap count. Earlier this season, the Buccaneers tried to get away with disconcerting acts: a shift by the defense intended to dupe the offense. It didn’t work.

Sun • 11:29 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cowboys at Bengals

In the third quarter, a Bengals touchdown was nullified because receiver Marvin Jones stepped out of bounds and was first to touch the ball. Ordinarily it would be an illegal-contact foul, because Jones was pushed out. However, since quarterback Andy Dalton scrambled outside of the pocket, it is now a running play, and illegal contact comes off the board.

If the quarterback was in the pocket, and illegal contact was called, the receiver could be the first to touch the pass, as long as he established two feet in bounds.

Sun • 6:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Titans at Colts (video)

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throws an interception directly to Titans linebacker Will Witherspoon who then returns it for a Titans touchdown. On the replay review, it seems that there was evidence that Luck had his knee down before he released the pass, which would have made the play dead as a sack. I’m told that replay official official Howard Slavin confirmed the touchdown without having referee Pete Morelli review. (Slavin is not Morelli’s usual replay official.)

Update: Slavin challenged the play. Morelli did not overturn.

Update II, 12/10: Morelli did not overturn because he did not have the replay angle shown. It was either not available or not chosen by the replay assistant (not the replay official, and, in this case, also not Morelli’s usual replay assistant).

Sun • 6:25 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Saints at Giants (video)

Umpire Jeff Rice is in the middle of the field on this kickoff return for a touchdown.  He wisely gets out of the way and allows his wing officials and back judge Steve Freeman to get to the goal line.

Sun • 6:16 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Seahawks at Cardinals (video)

The Seahawks recover a muffed punt in the endzone for a touchdown.  If the loose ball had been recovered in the field of play, the Seahawks would have been awarded the ball at the spot of recovery because the kicking team cannot advance a recovered muff.  Since the recovery was in the Cardina’s endzone, they were awarded a touchdown.

Sun • 4:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Chiefs at Bowns

Side judge Jeff Lamberth (the official that got doinked by the Chiefs’ pass) is a swing (or substitute) official this season. He will likely be working Walt Anderson’s crew to the end of the year. Anderson’s side judge, Micahel Banks, is out with a broken foot.

Sun • 4:32 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Chargers at Steelers (video)

A pass by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was ruled to have gone backwards, which makes it a live ball even though it fell to the ground. On the replay review, referee Scott Green had two things to confirm: did the pass go backwards or at least laterally (loose ball), and did Quinton Jammer (the Chargers defender to recover) step out of bounds without re-establishing himself in bounds. Jammer did not, but if he had, he would have been required to have two feet in bounds before touching the ball. If he had not established himself in-bounds, he would have made the ball out of bounds, resulting in a safety against the Steelers.

The rule of “first touching” the ball only applies to kicks and forward passes. It does not apply to fumbles or muffed backward passes.

Sun • 4:05 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chiefs at Browns (video)

Side judge Jeff Lamberth is concentrating so closely on his keys that he is not aware he’s about to get beaned by an errant pass!

Sun • 4:01 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Eagles at Buccaneers (video)

The Eagles muffed a punt near their own end zone. The Buccaneers recovered, but the ball was dead immediately. Any recovery of a muffed punt cannot be advanced, so the Buccaneers wisely just covered the loose ball. (If the muffed punt is recovered in the end zone, it is a touchdown, but there cannot be any runback for a score.)

Sun • 3:48 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Falcons at Panthers (video)

Nice job by side judge Keith Washington to not get beaten to the goal line on a Cam Newton long touchdown run.

Sun • 3:30 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Cowboys at Bengals (video)

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan steps over the line drawing a rare unsportsmanlike conduct foul on a coach.

Tue • 1:11 am EDT • Mark Schultz

Giants at Redskins

Tony Steratore did a very nice job moving to line judge, filling in for Tom Stephan who had to leave due to injury.

Tue • 12:02 am EDT • Mark Schultz

Giants at Redskins (video)

The Giants Linval Joseph gets flagged for unnecessary roughness on the edge of a fumble scrum.  On another note; nice job by umpire Tony Michalek to hustle over and help un-pile the players.

Sun • 11:32 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Eagles at Cowboys

On a fourth-down play, the Cowboys were ruled short of a first down. Even though they lose the ball on downs, it is not considered a turnover, so Cowboys coach Jason Garrett had to use a challenge if he believed the ball was short. He did.

On the review, Triplette re-spotted the ball, but the new spot required a new measure. As we said earlier last week, there is a clip on the chain to assist on resetting the chains (which had already reversed direction for the Eagles possession).

Even though replay re-spotted the ball, it is not technically a “reversal” unless it reverses the first-down/not-first down ruling. So, the Cowboys could have lost their challenge and a timeout even after the spot of the ball had changed.

Sun • 9:50 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Eagles at Cowboys

Wonder why referee Jeff Triplette is using two down indicators tonight?  The umpire and sometimes the referee use two.  One is, of course, to keep track of the downs.  The second indicator on the other hand is to indicate where the ball is placed between the hashes.  If he’s wearing the ball placement indicator on the left hand it goes like this:  thumb is on the right hash, pointer finger is half way between the right hash and center of the field, middle finger is center of the field, ring finger is half way between the center of the field and the left hash, pinky is the left hash.  On an incomplete pass or a penalty enforcement that goes from the previous spot, the ball has to be returned to the proper spot between hashes.

Sun • 9:44 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Eagles at Cowboys

I don’t know why, but I love hearing a metal whistle being used by an official.  Line judge Jeff Bergman is using one tonight.  Less than a half-dozen current NFL officials are using a metal whistle.

Sun • 9:42 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Steelers at Ravens (video)

Field judge Steve Zimmer with the call of the week!  The pylon is in bounds.

Sun • 5:57 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Texans at Titans (video)

Quite frankly, I am tiring of the inadvertent whistle mistakes. They are exceedingly rare at the NFL level, and even occur in playoff games. But they have a startlingly pandemic-like outbreak in this season. Counting Thursday night’s game, we now have the second one this weekend, and the fifth of the season.

On a fumble recovery the Texans were negated a runback because of an apparent inadvertent whistle. The only possible ruling I could see is the official considered this to be a muffed backward pass, and dead by rule upon recovery. I don’t agree with such a call, but it is the only explanation I can find for the call, other than a massive screw-up.

Tony Corrente was the referee.

Sun • 5:07 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Seahawks at Bears (video)

Referee Mike Carey properly over turns a Seahawks touchdown.

Sun • 4:57 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Jaguars at Bills (video)

Back judge Rob Vernatchi and side judge Don Carlsen properly blow a play dead in Buffalo.  The Bills muff a punt near the five yard line.  The Jaguars pick it up and advance into the end zone.  By rule, the Jaguars can recover the muffed ball but not advance.  Note the flummoxed announcers at the end of the clip who obviously don’t understand the rule!

Sun • 4:51 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Seahawks at Bears (video)

Referee Mike Carey properly upholds the Seahawks overtime winning touchdown.

Sun • 4:36 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

49ers at Rams (video)

Referee Carl Cheffers calls an intentional grounding penalty on the 49ers Kaepernick that results in a safety.  On a call like this, Cheffers has to watch the quarterback to make sure he doesn’t get roughed.  He has to rely on the input of his other officials to see if the ball crosses the line of scrimmage and if there are eligible receivers in the area.  The crew did a great job on this play.

Thu • 11:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Saints at Falcons

We have a full post on the forward-progress/fumble/recovery/surprise-runback/was-there-an-inadvertent-whistle?/touchdown play that was a disaster on the field but ultimately called correctly through replay.

Mon • 2:20 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Steelers at Browns

Sports Illustrated columnist and NBC reporter Peter King bestowed referee Ron Winter with a “goat of the week” award (I have many on my mantle) for a non-called fumble by Browns running back Trent Richardson.

Mon • 1:48 pm EDT • Ben Austro

49ers at Saints

I generally avoid characterizing pass interference calls, because they are such swift judgements that most people need slow-motion replays to accurately detect. That said, the pass interference calls seemed to be all over the map in the second half of this game. The examples: In the third quarter, Saints receiver was called for offensive pass interference in the third quarter (video at 2:54) by side judge Ronald Torbert and back judge Perry Paganelli. To me, there was a mutual push-push there, but not enough for either the receiver or the defender to gain advantage, thus no foul. In the fourth quarter and near the same pylon, 49ers receiver Randy Moss prevented Saints safety Malcom Jenkins from intercepting the ball (no video available). In the context of the third-quarter play, this would certainly be pass interference, because the receiver clearly impeded the defender’s right for the ball. Neither Torbert nor Paganelli called a foul in this instance. (If you find a video link to the Moss play, e-mail us at the address in the “About” tab.)

If a crew applies a “tight” call on pass interference, they must remain consistent.

Sun • 11:26 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Giants (video)

Giants quarterback Eli Manning was ruled short on his 200th career touchdown pass. After coach Tom Coughlin issued his first challenge of the season, referee Terry McAulay ruled that Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks was on top of the defender when he reached the ball across the goal line.

Sun • 8:01 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Vikings at Bears (video)

Referee Scott Green wipes out a Vikings scoop-and-score after he rules the Bears Matt Forte was down prior to him fumbling the ball.

Sun • 7:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

49ers at Saints (video)

On a blocked field goal, Saints lineman Broderick Bunkley was ejected for kicking a player who was down on the ground. Seemed like he was trying to help the 49ers player up, and after he refused the gesture, Bunkley kicked him. [Updated with video link.]

Sun • 7:47 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Raiders at Bengals (video)

Alberton Riveron’s crew ejects Andrew Whitworth of the Bengals and Tommy Kelly and Lamarr Houston of the Raiders after a major fight.  The melee started  when Houston tackled Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton after the officials blew the play dead for a false start penalty.  Houston and Whitworth were ejected for fighting and Kelly was ejected for coming from the Raiders’ bench to join the fray. 

Sun • 6:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Raiders at Bengals

We have a full post up on the inadvertent whistle that negated a Raiders fumble recovery.

Sun • 2:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bills at Colts (video)

Because it is the call that will go viral, here is Ed Hochuli:

The runner’s buttocks was down on the ground before the ball came loose. Therefore, it’s Indianapolis ball at the 47-yard line. The clock should be reset to 13:22

Video at Deadspin.

Sun • 2:34 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Vikings at Bears (video)

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler tosses the ball at the Vikings defender who forced him out of bounds. Scott Green’s crew assessed a 15-yard taunting foul on the Bears.

Thu • 11:55 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Texans at Lions

Former NFL vice president of officiating and current FOX Sports officiating analyst Mike Pereira weighs in about the illegal challenge controversy.  It is interesting that he states that one reason the officials may have missed the initial down by contact was that the umpire was in the backfield out of his traditional position.  Pereira says if the umpire was in his “old” position behind the defensive line, he could have gotten a good look at the play and might have been able to blow it dead.

Thu • 11:30 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Patriots at Jets (video)

The officiating crew does a good job holding the whistle on this fumble play.  That could have been one nasty inadvertent whistle, but it wasn’t.

Thu • 11:15 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Texans at Lions

Remember, last week line judge Mark Perlman was criticized in some quarters for shutting down a potential catch and fumble play to incomplete (Deadspin video).  The topic of how “obvious” this down by contact play was today can be debated.  But, the officials were doing what they were taught – when in doubt, let the play go and have replay sort it out if need be.  Replay was going to sort it out in the Lions’ favor until coach Schwartz forgot the rule.

Thu • 11:07 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Texans at Lions

NFL issues statement about the illegal challenge by Detroit.

Thu • 8:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Texans at Lions (video)

We will have a longer post up later tonight. But let me address the call of the day briefly.

Regardless of how “obvious” the call of down-by-contact should have been, on a touchdown play, the replay official has sole jurisdiction over replay reviews. If a coach calls for a challenge, it negates the review for his side, and it is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

This is not a new rule, and one that coaches have no excuse for knowing; in fact it has been in place for at least two years now. We covered this in preseason when automatic replay reviews were applied to turnovers.

Mon • 11:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bears at 49ers (video)

It was a kitchen sink play: everything but the kitchen sink was involved here. There were so many things going on, it seemed that referee Tony Corrente was fine tuning the full call while he was announcing it.

On the fumble in the end zone by Bears quarterback Jason Campbell, the ball was propelled out of the area of the goal line by offensive guard Chilo Rachal. Initially, it was ruled an illegally batted ball after the entirety of the ball left the end zone:

There was a fumble on the play. Illegal batting by an offensive player who was out of the end zone. He threw the ball, actually, forward, which is an incomplete pass. It will be fourth down. Fourth down.

Now that we have an incomplete ruling, the team in stripes got together, and Corrente announced a new penalty, but still not a safety:

Because it was a forward pass, we’re going to go intentional grounding against the offense with a loss of down. That makes it fourth down at the ½-yard line.

The 49ers challenged the play, in which Corrente announced:

San Francisco is challenging the ruling on the field, that the pass was not from the field of play.

Corrente is not restricted to just the pass on that play; he was able to review a prior action of the lineman down by contact under the 49ers challenge. The final verdict:

After reviewing the play, the offensive lineman who recovered the football was down by contact in the end zone. Therefore, it is a safety. There is no penalty for intentional grounding.

Back to the illegal batting call: this was the second time this unusual call was under discussion in the game. An earlier batting of the ball on a fumble was not a foul, because the ball must go towards the opponent’s goal line (or in the direction the batting player would go for a touchdown). However, once the ball is in the end zone, a batted ball can go in any direction by either team and be considered an illegal bat.

Mon • 6:06 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Chargers at Broncos

We now have a full post up on the Donario Alexander process of the catch call.

Pereira, Daopoulos break down Week 11 calls

See our summary in another post.

Jaguars at Texans

Overtime; yeah, there’s a post for the sudden-death rule.

Mon • 12:07 am EDT • Ben Austro

Ravens at Steelers (video)

The Steelers were ruled short of a first down and coach Mike Tomlin challenged the spot. I had the runner short by a hair by using the yellow line as a guide (which the referee does not have the opportunity to do).

Walt Anderson did see evidence to re-spot the ball, but he could not immediately determine that the Steelers got the first down. They measured at the new spot and found that the Steelers, in fact, got the first down by a hair.

Even though the spot changed, the Steelers would have been charged with a timeout had the ball been measured short of the first down. In order to be reckoned a successful challenge, the Steelers had to achieve the first down. The only times the spot of the ball can come under review (without any other contributing factor) is the spot relative to the first-down line or the goal line.

Sun • 11:29 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cardinals at Falcons (video)

On a Falcons fumble, Cardinals cornerback Greg Toler kept the live ball in bounds while defensive back Rashad Johnson recovered the loose ball. Toler was very close to stepping out of bounds, and it would have been worthy of a challenge. In that case, it would be ruled out of bounds, and the Falcons would maintain possession.

Falcons coach Mike Smith agreed that it was worthy of a challenge. However, turnover plays are under the exclusive jursdiction of the replay booth; the coach is not permitted to execute a challenge (this is a new, but not unknown rule this year). It is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Falcons bench.

Additionally, the replay official is no longer permitted to review the play for the Falcons, because they committed a foul between downs. The rationale is that between-downs penalties delay the ensuing snap, giving the replay booth additional time to consider a challenge. The Competition Committee saw this as an unintended advantage, in the same category as intentional fouls in basketball.

Incidentally, I would rule that there is no conclusive evidence that Toler stepped out of bounds, so the call of fumble recovery would stand. Good coverage by back judge Mike Weir and umpire Tim Podraza on the call.

Sun • 10:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Chargers at Broncos (video)

A touchdown pass from Chargers quarterback Philip River to receiver Danario Alexander went under review. Referee Carl Cheffers ruled that Alexander had two feet down, reached for the end zone, thus completing the process of the catch for a touchdown.

However, this is a clear misapplication of the rules. When a player catches the ball on two solid feet and not falling, he must only make (or at least have the opportunity to make) a football move: turn upfield, take another step, change direction, etc. When a player is going to the ground, the additional element of control through to the ground must be established before the process of the catch is complete. This is beyond the two feet down in bounds.

Clearly, Alexander was going to the ground, and the process of the catch is not completed. It should have been overturned on replay.

The rationale for the “going to the ground” ruling: If that play happened at, say, the 20-yard line, absent that ruling, it would be a fumble. The Competition Committee indicated that this is a cheap fumble for the defense, if they recover, especially since the receiver did not complete a professional-level catch. And, since you cannot have differing definitions for a catch upfield and at the goal line, the process of the catch is only completed once a player had controlled the ball all the way through to the ground.

We have contacted the NFL for a response, and we will post when we hear back.

Sun • 8:06 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chargers at Broncos (video)

Umpire Undrey Wash again has to be fast on his feet after this blocked punt. 

Sun • 7:09 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Colts at Patriots

As pointed out by one of our loyal followers, John Parry, R132, pictured here using doubled-tied rubber bands for a down indicator on his right hand, rather than a standard-issue black elastic device specifically for this use.

Sun • 6:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Packers at Lions (no video available)

Still looking for confirmation of an alleged inadvertent whistle in this game. Apparently there was a fair catch call and the receiver dropped the ball. There was an inadvertent whistle — again, allegedly — prior to the recovery by the receiving team. In this case, the ruling should be replay the down, since the kicking team surrendered possession by way of the punt, and the receiving team had not yet taken possession. It cannot be ruled dead at the spot, even though the receiving team touched the ball, and ultimately recovered it.

Hit me by e-mail if you find a clip. Address in the “about” tab above.

(Our coverage on the dreaded IW, here.)

Sun • 6:48 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chargers at Broncos (video)

The Chargers surprise the Broncos to start the second half with an onside kick.  There’s a major scrum, and back judge Todd Prukop does an excellent job getting to the bottom of the pile to rule on possession.  The rest of the crew uses good mechanics to keep things under control. 

Sun • 6:38 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chargers at Broncos (video)

The Chargers get a tipped pass and intercept it for a touchdown.  When there’s a pick-six, it is a dangerous time for the referee and umpire.  Everything is going in reverse and everyone is improvising.  Some of the hardest hits to the referee or, now in his new position, the umpire occur during the run back.  Umpire Undrey Wash makes sure to get out of the way and still be able to call the play.

Sun • 5:51 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Browns @ Cowboys

Kind of hard to see from my snapshot, but referee Ed Hochuli uses an Eisenhower dollar for the coin flip, as seen on the broadcast at the beginning of overtime.

Sun • 5:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Browns at Cowboys (Deadspin video)

In overtime, an incomplete pass to Cowboys receiver Miles Austin appeared to be complete and a fumble, recovered by the Browns. Because the call on the field was a play-killing call, replay cannot overturn that call and add a subsequent action.  However, it looks like it should have been ruled a catch, giving the recovery to the Browns on the field, but that could not have been the result in a review.

Apparently referee Ed Hochuli went to the replay equipment for a review, but he said that he did not review the play. Likely, he discussed with the replay official that it wasn’t reviewable. But his explanation was, well, pure Hochuli:

That is not a reviewable play. Therefore there’s no change in the timeouts. There is a timeout charged on that play.

He then turned his microphone off, walked a few strides, then stopped and turned the microphone on again:

And the ruling on the field stands, although, [laughing] as I said, it’s not a reviewable play. I didn’t review it.

Update: Deadspin has the video, and a quote of this post, completing the circle.

Sun • 5:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Browns at Cowboys

A close call on whether this is a hair tackle or a horse-collar tackle on a punt return that set up a Browns touchdown leading to overtime. It is not a foul to grab the hair, but pulling by the jersey is a 15-yarder. Even with the benefit of slow-motion replay, I am not convinced that it was all hair and no jersey. In real speed, it looks like a horse collar, so the officials are instructed to call a personal foul when in doubt.

Ed Hochuli was the referee.

Sun • 2:39 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cardinals at Falcons (video)

Everyone, including the TV crew, had incomplete pass. Well, almost everyone. Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux played the ball as a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown. Bill Vinovich is the referee (Mike Carey’s crew).

Sun • 2:28 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jets at Rams

Referee Jerome Boger called a false start on the holder John Hekker during an extra-point try. The angle for the live shot was from the opposite side of the stadium, so Hekker’s right arm is not seen, and no other replay was shown. An odd penalty on the holder, but it was a point of emphasis by the Competition Committee for officials to call false starts on quarterbacks in shotgun formation (and by extension, the holder on a kick) who make hand gestures similar to the ball being snapped to them.

Thu • 11:14 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Dolphins at Bills (video)

A catch by Dolphins Brian Hartline was ruled a fumble, which was recovered by Bills safety Jairus Byrd. Byrd ran the ball back five yards. The ball was clearly dropped and recovered, but the question was if Hartline completed the process of the catch.

Referee Jeff Triplette ruled that the call on the catch “stands” (implying that it was inconclusive if the process of catch was completed), but he saw that Byrd had been touched by a Dolphins player with his knee on the ground after Byrd gained control of the ball. So the Bills got possession of the ball, but did not get the five-yard runback.

Tue • 9:04 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bills at Patriots

We hear from an excellent source that head linesman George Hayward injured his calf muscle and was not able to continue in the game.  Side judge Keith Parham moved to head linesman and back judge Keith Ferguson moved to side judge.  There are no alternate officials for regular season NFL games so the crew finished using six-man mechanics.

Mon • 10:23 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chiefs at Steelers (video)

Mike Wallace makes an outstanding touchdown catch, but side judge Laird Hayes makes an equally outstanding touchdown call.

Mon • 10:33 am EDT • Ben Austro

Scott Green

Referee Scott Green was scheduled to officiate the Titans-Dolphins game, but was replaced by Walt Anderson. From a person familiar with the situation, I was told only that Green had to attend to a personal matter.

Sun • 11:10 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Texans at Bears (video)

Jay Cutler throws an illegal forward pass while the Texans are called for an illegal hit on Cutler.  On plays where the quarterback passes beyond the line, the line judge is responsible for making the call.  When the quarterback drops back into the pocket, the line judge drifts back with him and when the quarterback scrambles forward the line judge drifts with him.  Note line judge Jeff Seeman at the bottom of the screen.  He was in perfect position to rule on the play using the down box on the opposite side of the field.

Sun • 6:57 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cowboys at Eagles (video)

A touchdown by Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is reviewed, because it appeared to touch the ground. Walt Coleman’s verdict was that the ruling “stands,” meaning he did not see inconclusive evidence to overturn the touchdown call. To me, it seems like the ground definitely aided the catch, and that there was a point that Bryant did not have his hand under the ball when it was loose in his hands.

Sun • 6:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Rams at 49ers (video)

During a measurement, the clock operator (a league employee, by the way) allowed more than a minute to run off the clock, despite the fact the clock should have been stopped.

Sun • 5:52 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bills at Patriots (video)

Umpire Ruben Fowler has to dart and dodge on this short touchdown pass.  Fowler is in the traditional umpire’s position since the ball is inside the five-yard line.

Sun • 5:29 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bills at Patriots (video)

Where was the back judge on this play?  He should be on the end line.

Sun • 4:16 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Broncos at Panthers (video)

The Dolphins Trindon Holliday scores a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown.  Line judge Julian Mapp does a great job ruling Holiday in bounds his entire journey up the sideline.  But, it appears replay official Bob Boylston should have called for a review because it appears that Holiday may have flipped the ball out of his hands before crossing the goal line.  Did Boylston not get that replay angle until it was too late?  Was there indisputable evidence to over turn the touchdown call?  In my opinion, the call would have most likely stood, but it did merit a look under the hood.

Update: This story says that CBS showed the goal line angle after returning from a commercial after the PAT – too late for a booth review.

Sun • 3:59 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chargers at Buccaneers (video)

Philip Rivers throws an interception returned for a touchdown.  On the play, referee Bill Vinovich was so near the sideline that he had to step out of bounds in order to not be run over.  If he tried to stay in the field of play he would have most likely been knocked down.

Sun • 2:21 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Titans at Dolphins

Referee Scott Green is off this week due to (the best we can confirm at this point) a personal reason. We will update when we have official confirmation.

Mon • 10:54 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Eagles at Saints (video)

The Saints score a touchdown off an interception, but first Clete Blakeman’s crew has to sort out a flag on the Eagles.

Mon • 3:41 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Panthers at Redskins

The NFL released a statement to us that Carl Cheffers’ crew was wrong to award the Panthers a first-quarter touchdown when line judge, Tom Symonette blew an inadvertent whistle.  The NFL says the officials should have given the Panthers the choice of having the ball at the spot of the inadvertent whistle or replay the down. 

Mon • 12:04 am EDT • Mark Schultz

Dolphins at Colts

Apparently there is more to Tony Corrente’s slip of the tongue than what made the CBS broadcast.

Sun • 10:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cardinals at Packers (video)

Back judge Greg Yette had a similar hustle on a 73-yard touchdown. He was at the goal line for the signal.

Sun • 10:27 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Panthers at Redskins (video)

Redskins’ tight end, Logan Paulsen, tosses the ball to umpire Undrey Wash, number 96.  Wash wasn’t expecting the toss and the ball smacked him in the face.  Redskins’ trainers took a look at Wash and he continued in the game without missing a play.

Sun • 10:19 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Cowboys at Falcons (video)

Nice job by side judge, Jeff Lamberth, number 21, to keep up with a 65-yard pass play to Cowboys’ wide receiver, Kevin Ogletree.  Lamberth is a swing (substitute) side judge this season, having missed almost all of last season due to injuries.

Sun • 8:11 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Steelers at Giants

Three calls in this game are up for discussion:

  • 41-yard defensive pass interference call against the Steelers
  • a personal foul for a blow to the head when there was no contact to the head against the Steelers
  • a fumble, which should have been overturned as an incomplete pass, was upheld against the Steelers

We have a full post up on the calls.

Sun • 7:26 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Dolphins at Colts (video below)

[Note: I had to move the video to the bottom of the post because Youtube and the liveblog software don’t get along together.]

Referee Tony Corrente, arguing with umpire Fred Bryan over an enforcement spot, responds with annoyance, “That was, goddammit.” No need for lipreading here, as his public-address microphone was on and picked up the comments.

Mike Pereira, the former vice-president of NFL officiating, stated that the league will be discussing this with Corrente during the week.

Also, when playoff assignments are determined, this is one of those incidents that might be to Corrente’s detriment if he is virtually tied with another referee in his on-field accuracy score.

Sun • 3:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bears at Titans

Bookended by two Bears touchdowns on special teams and defense, the Titans were awarded two points on defense. Bears tackle J’Marcus Webb was flagged for illegal use of hands, and because the foul occurred in the end zone, it was a safety. It is the first time I can recall illegal-use-of-hands foul resulting in a safety.

Sun • 2:28 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Panthers at Redskins (video)

A touchdown run by Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams was allowed to stand despite an apparent inadvertent whistle. As Williams threads the sideline, he never steps out, but a whistle is clearly heard during the runback. The Redskins in pursuit, who probably could not have tackled Williams anyway, eased up in their pursuit of Williams.

Referee Carl Cheffers consulted with his crew, particularly line judge Tom Symonette who would have been most likely to blow his whistle. The only reason I say it is an apparent inadvertent whistle is that I don’t see any of the officials signaling that Williams stepped out of bounds. Cheffers announced that the ruling was a touchdown, so either his crew denied the whistle or the sound came from somewhere off the field (not likely, but it does happen).

An inadvertent whistle is not reviewable, and the play must stand as called with a dead ball when the whistle is blown.

Update: The line judge, not the head linesman, is operating the near sideline. The chains are on the opposite sideline, which is where the head linesman is stationed (and sides will switch after halftime).

Mon • 12:34 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Colts at Titans (video)

The Colts get the benefit of the ball being ruled dead and a Titans fumble recovery being wiped out (1:10 in the video above).

Refreshingly, the Titans do not blame that call for their overtime loss.

Sun • 8:12 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Giants at Cowboys (video)

The Cowboys were attempting a last-minute comeback, down by five points. Quarterback Tony Romo connected with receiver Dez Bryant in the back of the end zone for the apparent go-ahead touchdown with six seconds remaining. On review, Bryant caught the ball in the air, and the first body part to touch the ground was his hand with his fingertips touching the end line.

The touchdown was erased from the board, and the Giants eventually won the game. With the season head-to-head now split, the NFC East may be decided by four fingertips.

Sun • 7:12 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Redskins at Steelers (video)

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a short pass over the defensive line. Problem was that umpire Darrell Jenkins was occupying that space. There are no do-overs, as the quarterback could deliberately aim at the official to get another chance. If the ball caroms off an official, it still can be caught prior to touching the ground, as long as the official is not touching the sideline.

Sun • 6:16 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Redskins at Steelers (video)

Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall, in his disagreement with head linesman Dan McKenzie, removed his helmet and apparently hurled the mother of all F-bombs while pointing in McKenzie’s face. Hall was flagged twice for unsportsmanlike conduct: once for removing his helmet and once for an offense against an official.

Rule 14, Section 4, in part:

If one of the multiple fouls is a foul against a game official, then both fouls are enforced

Sun • 2:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jaguars at Packers (video)

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is ruled to have fumbled, but it appears that he lost the ball prior to tucking it back to his body. This would be ruled an incomplete pass if the Tuck Rule was invoked.

The replay official did not call for a review, so he must have believed the ball was tucked before the fumble.

The replay from the end zone shows that the ball is already on the ground when the tucking motion is completed.

Sun • 2:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Panthers at Bears (video)

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton fumbles at the 1-yard line into the end zone. Panthers wide receiver Louis Murphy recovers. Since it was not under two minutes remaining in the half nor fourth down, the forward fumble rules do not apply. It is a legal touchdown for the Panthers.

(Had the ball gone out of bounds or if Murphy had recovered while touching out of bounds, it would have been a touchback: Bears ball, 1st and 10 on the 20.)

Sun • 2:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Dolphins at Jets

A new type of tuck rule: side judge Michael Banks began to throw a flag for defensive pass interference, then saw something to change his mind. (It may be because the ball is slightly underthrown, and thus, both players were playing the ball.)

Sun • 1:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Dolphins at Jets

Walt Anderson’s crew is using pink penalty flags, on the suggestion of an 11-year old from Marlboro, N.J.

Mon • 10:57 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Lions at Bears

First time seeing Alberto Riveron this year.  He seems to have stepped up this year with his mic work and expressions while making announcements.

Mon • 10:32 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Lions at Bears

Nice job by back judge, Rich Reels, to cover that muffed Lions punt early in the third quarter.

Mon • 12:03 am EDT • Ben Austro

Saints at Buccaneers

So, I saw a huge spike in traffic to an old post about “disconcerting signals.” The Buccaneers defense was hit with the penalty, which would be someone on the defensive line yelling over or imitating the snap call. I don’t have the specific play or any video, but apparently there was also a shift of the entire defensive line. This is legal, as long as no one violated the neutral zone.

Jerome Boger was the referee.

Update 10/23: It wasn’t just a simple shift, and we have a full post up on it.

Sun • 10:06 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Browns at Colts (video)
Cowboys at Panthers (video)

Crazy ending sequences to these games.  The Browns and Panthers try to keep the game alive with a series of laterals.  It looks like all passes were backward so the officials called the play correctly.  On plays like that is it important to concentrate, get the best angle to judge the direction of the pass, and be ready for anything.

Sun • 7:05 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jets at Patriots

On a fumble recovery by the Jets, Patriots coach Bill Belichick threw a challenge flag that the runner was down prior to the ball coming out. Referee Jeff Triplette also called for a review by the replay booth. Because the Patriots called for the challenge, there should have been a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed on the Patriots’ bench.

Although no challenge flag was seen, announcer Jim Nantz said there was, the player on the screen reacted that one was thrown, and the crowd reacted as if a challenge was thrown. (Update: NFL disputes this, see below.) The uncalled penalty would have been very costly, as the play would no longer be subject to a review, and it does not matter if the booth contacted the field before the challenge flag.

So, the errant challenge flag foul mandates that ball would have been Jets, 1st and 10 on their own 35. Instead, the Patriots got the ball on the reversal, 1st and goal from the 1. And the Patriots, easily, were able to add a touchdown on the board.

Update, 10/22: I confirmed with Jim Daopoulos (NBC Sports Network rules analyst and former NFL official and  supervisor) via Twitter that the play would not be subject to review.

Update II, 10/22 (3:15 pm EDT): The NFL has stated that Jim Nantz’s call that (I am going from memory) “the challenge flag is already out” was incorrect. Per AFC spokesman Corry Rush:

Coach Belichick did not throw a challenge flag on that play. It was a booth review.

Sun • 7:01 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jets at Patriots

Near the end of the second quarter, the Jets got a first down and called timeout as they lined up for the snap. This gave the replay booth extra time to review, and ultimately the first down was overturned.

Jets lost the timeout, because they needed it to stop the clock. No matter what the decision was from replay, the status of the clock (running or stopped) goes to the other side of replay. Since the result of the play is running clock, followed by a timeout to stop, referee Jeff Triplette could not return the timeout to the Jets.

Sun • 6:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jets at Patriots (video)

On a fumble into the end zone, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez kicked the ball through the end zone. The play is a safety by either enforcement: whether the ball went out of bounds or a penalty in the end zone. Although referee Jeff Triplette didn’t indicate the penalty was declined, the official scorekeeper marked it as such.

The illegal kick penalty is not enforced on the ensuing kickoff because only two types fouls carry forward after a score:

  • personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct
  • fouls by defense on a successful conversion attempt

If there was, for example, a chop block penalty on the same play as the ball going out of bounds in the end zone, the penalty carries forward to the free kick, which would be a half-distance penalty, with the kick from the 10 instead of the 20.

But, if the chop block penalty was “used” to call the safety (in other words, the result of the play was not a safety, but the foul made it a safety), then the penalty for the foul would not carried forward to the kickoff.

Sun • 4:37 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Saints at Buccaneers

The game ended on an offensive penalty, with Tampa Bay WR Mike Williams catching an apparent game-tying touchdown in the back of the end zone. However,  he had been forced out of bounds and then came back in. Since the pass wasn’t tipped or touched by another player first, the ruling of Illegal Touching was the correct call by Jerome Boger’s crew, who had a couple of questionable calls earlier in the game.

Update: We now have a full post up on this play.

Sun • 3:47 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Cowboys at Panthers (video)

Mike Tolbert scores a touchdown for the Panthers.  Mike Pereira tweets that the ensuing celebration should have drawn a flag as it was a group event.

Sun • 3:26 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Cowboys at Panthers (video)

Brandon LaFell catches a short touchdown pass right at the pylon.  The ball needs to pass over the top of the pylon for it to be a touchdown.  Line judge, Gary Arthur, on the call.

Sun • 3:04 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Packers at Rams (video)

The Packers recover a surprise onside kick leading to a pretty intense scrum.  Officials have to be ready for everything.

Sun • 2:33 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Cardinals at Vikings (video)

The Vikings force a fumble and a scrum ensues.  McAulay’s crew does a great job managing the scrum – something I’ve talked about before.

Sun • 2:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cowboys at Panthers (video)

On an interception by the Cowboys in the end zone, cornerback Morris Claiborne attempted a runback but was tackled in the end zone. This is ruled a touchback, because the entire ball never exited the end zone.

The test for safety vs. touchback is always measured by who put the ball in the end zone. Because the pass by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton put the ball in the end zone, it is a touchback. If Claiborne had advanced to the 1-yard line, retreated into the end zone and was tackled there, then the Cowboys would have put the ball in the end zone, and a safety would have been ruled.

Sun • 2:13 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Packers at Rams (video)

Jordy Nelson with a toe-tapping touchdown and head linesman, Dana McKenzie, with the picture of concentration on the sideline.  Officials are taught to see the feet first, then watch to see if the receiver controls the ball.

Sun • 2:06 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Ravens at Texans (video)

The Texans sack quarterback Joe Flacco for a safety.  On plays like this one, the line judge is responsible for forward progress.  When the quarterback drops back for a pass, the head linesman drifts down field and the line judge either stays on the line of scrimmage or slide steps into the backfield.  If the quarterback is sacked, he is responsible for forward progress, and when the goal line is involved, his job is to help determine if the sack results in a safety.

Tue • 1:32 am EDT • Ben Austro

Patriots at Seahawks (video)

Back to Sunday, now that there is video posted of this play.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady unloads a pass in the back of the end zone with one second remaining in the first half. While the Patriots get ready for a field goal attempt, referee Clete Blakeman consulted his crew and penalized Brady for intentional grounding. There are three elements to intentional grounding: (1) there is no receiver in the area of the pass, (2) the quarterback is under threat of a sack, and (3) the quarterback is inside the “tackle box” (an imaginary box behind where the five offensive lineman were lined up at the snap).

An intentional grounding penalty inside 1 minute of the half is illegally conserving time, and a 10-second runoff is assessed. If less than 10 seconds are on the clock, the half ends. However, if the Patriots had a timeout remaining, they would be allowed to use the timeout to counter the 10-second runoff.

This happened at the end of last season where Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie took a snap, and after delaying to consider his options, spiked the ball to stop the clock. Because the spike did not happen immediately, it was ruled intentional grounding, and the 10-second runoff ended the game right there.

Tue • 12:54 am EDT • Ben Austro

Broncos at Chargers (video)

From the first quarter, the Broncos muffed a punt when a fair catch is called. If it is touched first by the receiving team, it is a live ball. There is no “halo rule” in the NFL that allows a player signaling a fair catch to have a 5-yard buffer zone. Even though the Chargers coverage is right in his face, there was no interference with the opportunity to make the fair catch, so no penalty.

Mon • 10:28 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Broncos at Chargers (video)

Jim Leonhard overcomes pass interference against him (not called) to pick off Peyton Manning.  Leonhard is then flagged for delay of game for spiking the ball in the field of play.  It is against the rules to spike the ball in the field of play, which forces an official to chase the ball down.  The player is either supposed to hand the ball to the official or lay it on the ground.

Mon • 9:33 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Broncos at Chargers

Another false start on Rivers.  This time a head bob and not as pronounced as the hand thrust.  That is Triplette’s call all the way and he’s not afraid of making it.

Mon • 9:14 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Broncos at Chargers

4:38, first quarter.  Great false start call by Triplette.  Chargers QB, Phillip Rivers, gestured with his hands calling for the ball.  He was in shotgun formation.  This hand gesture, a point of emphasis this year, was correctly called by Triplette.

Mon • 9:09 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Broncos at Chargers

Nice to see side judge Jeff Lamberth back on the field after missing the 2011 season.  Lamberth is a swing (or substitute) official this year.

Sun • 10:59 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Lions at Eagles

First game back for Vinovich, and he had to DQ a player. On an extra-point attempt — seriously — defensive lineman Fletcher Cox threw a punch and was ejected from the game.

Sun • 7:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Giants at 49ers

Because one of the play clocks (25/40-second clock for delay of game) went down during the game, referee John Parry ordered the other play clock turned off. The back judge takes over the duties for timing the play clock when the stadium play clock is inoperative.

Sun • 5:37 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Giants vs. 49ers

The officials wearing black hats are not wearing the pink piping hats for breast cancer awareness month.  As one who is not a fan of the black hats with pink piping (looks like pink icing on a chocolate cake, in my opinion) that suits me just fine. 

Edit: Referee John Parry isn’t wearing his white hat with pink piping either.

Sun • 5:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Cowboys at Ravens (video)

Late in the fourth quarter, down two points, the Cowboys attempted an onside kick. The ball must go 10 yards before the Cowboys can recover the loose ball, however, once a Ravens player touches the loose ball, the 10-yard requirement is erased, and it is a live ball for either team to recover.

Sun • 5:00 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bills at Cardinals (video)

Line Judge, Julian Mapp, is wearing number 10 today.  Mapp gave number 52 back to Bill Vinovich who is officiating the Eagles vs. Lions game today.

Sun • 4:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Chiefs at Buccaneers (video)

On a block of a punt, Buccaneers punter Mike Keonon scoops up and heaves the ball forward only to be intercepted and have a quick touchdown return by the Chiefs. The pass is legal because the punt never crossed the line of scrimmage. However, if an illegal pass is intercepted, the interception counts.

Sun • 2:54 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Rams at Dolphins

Gene Steratore’s crew has really cracked down on illegal use of hands to the face calls.  Four flags for that foul in the first half.

Mon • 12:40 am EDT • Ben Austro

Chargers at Saints

A roughing-the-passer penalty wiped out a key Chargers interception returned for a touchdown. It was clearly a helmet-to-helmet hit as Saints quarterback Drew Brees released the ball, making him a defenseless player. The penalty gave the Saints a first down, sustaining a drive that ended in a touchdown. A very costly penalty: 15 yards on the field, 14 points on the scoreboard, and to seal the deal, a ,000 fine is on the way.

The crew called a tight offensive pass interference on the final Chargers drive, where the receiver seemed to gently push without gaining leverage. Because the defender went down after the push, the penalty was called.

Sun • 5:41 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Titans at Vikings (video)

Vikings safety Harrison Smith was ejected for shoving an official. The official (probably back judge Steve Freeman) was attempting to move Smith away from a potential altercation, and Smith pushed back. The CBS crew, puzzlingly, opted to not show the actual infraction, so the video shows very little, really; at the end of the video you can see the moment prior to Smith’s push back.

This entry was updated.

Sun • 5:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Broncos at Patriots (video)

Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas catches a pass and immediately fumbles the ball. Patriots were committed a block on the runback. Two questions:

  • Was the process of the catch completed?
  • Was the block by the Patriots an illegal blindside block?

The process of the catch was completed, as Thomas turned upfield prior to the fumble. As for the blindside, the Broncos player was turned into the direction of the blindside block, and thus he is not a defenseless player (see the definition of defenseless player). While originally flagged, Gene Steratore and his crew conferred and picked up the flag.

Sun • 4:07 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Eagles at Steelers (video)

Steelers Ryan Clark gives BJ Greg Wilson earful for late hit. Lucky he was not dinged for another 15.

Sun • 2:06 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Dolphins at Bengals (video)

Bengals recover a muffed punt on the boundary line. Did he establish possession before his shoulder hit the white paint? Walt Coleman says inconclusive, upholding tight call by Greg Gautreaux (#80) on the recovery (not to mention his muffed punt call as well).

Sun • 1:25 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Eagles at Steelers

1st Qtr 7:06: Eagles QB Michael Vick dove forward, then lost the ball. The ruling on the field was a fumble, which would be the correct call if Vick was not touched. Had he slid feet first, he would’ve been down without any contact. However, it appeared that Steelers LB Larry Foote got his foot tangled with Vick’s leg before the ball came out. This was confirmed upon review, overturning the call on the field.

Mon • 12:20 am EDT • Mark Schultz

Bengals at Jaguars

Ed Hochuli’s crew is introduced to the CBS audience (video).

Sun • 9:54 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Dolphins at Cardinals

Nice move by umpire Bruce Stritesky, on this long fumble return (video).  It gets very dangerous for the referee and umpire when the defense has the ball and is running the other way.  Everything suddenly goes in reverse and all the players are improvising.  Nice moves by Stritesky in officiating the play and keeping himself safe.

Sun • 7:14 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Redskins at Buccaneers

3rd Qtr 0:20 – Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III lateraled to wide receiver Brandon Banks, who lateraled back to Griffin, who then completed a pass to tight end Niles Paul. Tampa Bay challenged, claiming that Banks’ lateral was forward, making Griffin’s forward pass illegal. Replay showed that the the Banks lateral was sideways, and did not go forward nor backward, so the play was upheld. A sideways pass is considered a lateral, and not a forward pass. Good call on the field, and confirmed by the replay challenge.

Sun • 7:00 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Dolphins at Cardinals (video)

4th Qtr 7:24 – Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb is intercepted by Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith in the end zone for a touchback. The play was reviewed to confirm that Smith had both feet in bounds, and that he maintained possession to the ground. Upon review, one even though the ball had clearly hit the ground while in his hands, and hand came off the ball momentarily, Smith did maintain possession in one hand, and the ball did not move in his hand when it hit the ground. This was a tough call to make correctly on the field, but review confirmed that it was the correct ruling.

Sun • 6:55 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Dolphins at Cardinals

4th Qtr 8:25 – Dolphins wide receiver Legedu Naanee caught a pass, then fumbled. Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson recovered the fumble, and the booth called for a review. The ruling on the field was  upheld, with referee  Scott Green explaining that Naanee had “turned upfield, then lost possession”. Looks like a good call, as Nanee had established possession with both feet down, and had made a “football move.”

Sun • 6:39 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Saints at Packers

5:10 of the third quarter.  Excellent work by the officials digging to the bottom of the pile after a Packers fumble.  That was the proper way to handle a fumble scrum as opposed to this.

Sun • 6:37 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Saints at Packers

I really feel for the Packers, because they cannot seem to catch a break no matter who officiates. A completion by the Saints was challenged by the Packers, and referee Jeff Triplette ruled that “the call stands.” That means he did not have enough indisputable visual evidence to overturn, rather than confirming that the catch was made. It did seem pretty clear, though, that the ball touched the ground while the receiver attempted to gain control.

Sun • 5:32 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Saints at Packers

Here is that touchdown where there is suspected offensive pass interference.  That is either the back judge or side judge’s call.  (video)

Sun • 5:22 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Saints at Packers

9:43 second quarter.  Great teamwork by line judge Jeff Bergman and field judge Barry Anderson to rule no catch by the Packers’ Jordy Nelson.

Sun • 5:05 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Saints at Packers

As you watch the game today, keep an ear tuned for line judge Jeff Bergman’s whistle.  He is one of the few remaining officials to be using the old-school metal whistle.

Sun • 4:53 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Saints at Packers

New refs, similar non-call on offensive pass interference that works against the Packers. Saints wide receiver Marques Colston clearly pushed Packers free safety Morgan Burnett prior to reeling in a touchdown pass.

Sun • 4:39 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Officials continue to receive a hero’s welcome.

Sun • 3:32 pm EDT • Scott Diller

49ers at Jets (video)

Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes caught a pass from quarterback Mark Sanchez, but landed awkwardly, untouched, and gave up the ball due to his injury, which resulted in a fumble recovery and touchdown by 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers. While a runner can declare himself down without being touched, giving up the ball before the whistle does result in a fumble. This is the second such type of play this season, and perhaps should be considered for a rule change by the competition committee in the offseason.

Sun • 3:11 pm EDT • Ben Austro

49ers at Jets

Tony Corrente’s crew ruled a legal forward pass for Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, despite the fact he was apparently beyond the line of scrimmage. The rule is that any body part must be on or behind the line of scrimmage at the point of release of the pass. Very close, and the 49ers did not challenge. It looks inconclusive to call legal/illegal from the replay, so whichever call was made on the field would’ve stood. However, at real speed, I would have called it illegal.

Sun • 2:30 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Seahawks at Rams

The Rams ran a trick play out of a field goal formation, as the holder, punter Johnny Hekker, threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola. A flag was thrown for illegal substitution, but it was picked up after a conference by the officials, who ruled that Amendola had come far enough into the field of play. This is per Rule 5, Section 2, Article 5:

[An offensive substitute] must move onto the field of play … as far as the inside of the field numerals prior to the snap.

Sat • 12:38 pm EDT • Ben Austro


The union ratified on a vote of 112-5. All the officials are headed to their Sunday game sites right now.

Fri • 11:23 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Reporter Ted Madden of WFAA in Dallas-Fort Worth was set to cover today’s press conference that, apparently, is not happening.

We just got stood up by the referees after waiting patiently for their 7:00 briefing. I’ve just become a lot less sympathetic to their side.

On the bright side, Ted tweeted a picture of the new referee hats.

Fri • 4:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Tomorrow morning, NFL officials will meet to review rule changes and points of emphasis. From there, they will fly to their Sunday game site.

Fri • 4:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro

News conference scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (CT) with Jeff Triplette. NFLRA meeting begins at 7:30 for ratification of deal.

Thu • 5:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Confirmed via Adam Schefter: Mike Carey is your referee for Seahawks-Rams.

Thu • 5:05 pm EDT • Ben Austro

As part of the CBA deal, pensions are frozen when official has 20 years seniority or 2016, whichever comes first. That means, as of today, 15 officials had their pensions frozen.

Thu • 4:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

We have confirmed that Jeff Triplette will be in Green Bay for the Packers-Saints game.

Walt Coleman is your referee for Panthers-Falcons.

Thu • 3:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Lance Easley, the side judge who ruled touchdown on the Fail Mary play and accelerated the CBA talks, told TMZ he ruled simultaneous possession, because:

You have to not only have the ball but have either 2 feet or a body part on the ground, and that never happened.

Except …. no:

It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control.

Nothing about feet, although that is part of the “process of the catch,” but not who “gains control first.”

Thu • 3:09 pm EDT • Ben Austro

In a nod to how serious they take their jobs, we have reached out to several officials for comments on the tentative agreement. The responses so far indicate they consider themselves “in season,” and thus they are prohibited from contacting the media.

Welcome back!

Thu • 10:53 am EDT • Ben Austro

Tonight’s officials, I can proudly announce, are:

  • R — Gene Steratore
  • U — Bill Schuster
  • HL — Wayne Mackie
  • LJ — Jeff Seeman
  • FJ — Bob Waggoner
  • SJ — Jimmy DeBell
  • BJ — Greg Steed

Thu • 10:43 am EDT • Ben Austro

Referee Terry McAuley tweeted the following:

We’re back to work. Very excited to help, in our own way, bring the focus back to the game where it belongs!

Thu • 12:45 am EDT • Mark Schultz

It is official.  There is a tentative agreement.

Wed • 11:39 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Jason LaCanfora tweets that regular officials will be working Thursday Night Football.

It appears from all fronts at the least there is an agreement in principle or at most the agreement is signed.

Bottom line – from what all we hear and read, the regular officials will be working on the field in Week 4.

Wed • 11:09 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Albert Breer of is taking a more conservative reporting approach to the story, but still reports the two sides are “closing in on a deal.”

Wed • 11:05 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Pro Football Talk has some more details regarding pension and the logistics for the regular officials working Week 4.

Wed • 10:53 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

And just as I publish the PFT story, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that he received a text from someone “in the room” stating that reports of a signed deal are “categorically untrue.”

Reporting breaking news in the digital age can be messy at times………..

Wed • 10:49 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Pro Football Talk is reporting there is a new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Referees Association.

Wed • 10:24 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Jason La Canfora tweet:

Deal between NFL and locked out officials is imminent and would include language to allow regular refs to work Thursday night game.

Looks like, barring a last minute collapse in talks, the lockout is over.

Wed • 5:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro

No news to report at this hour, but ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweeted that the negotiations are continuing.

Wed • 5:21 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

From what I’ve been reading, it appears that the NFL has made a major concession regarding the 21 “bench” officials.  They will be mentored, not be members of the NFLRA, and won’t work on the field.  Not quite sure what these officials will be doing…….

Wed • 4:33 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Ben’s entry about officials concerned about passing a medical physical is curious at best and troubling at worst.  Did the 20 concerned officials just not get around to scheduling their physical exam with a doctor and they are now behind the proverbial eight-ball?  Or are there new, stringent physical fitness requirements that would essentially weed out the older, veteran officials?  I guess we’ll know after the ink is dry on the new agreement.

Wed • 4:13 pm EDT • Ben Austro

To correct an earlier entry based on Albert Breer’s latest column:

The developmental officials will not be NFLRA members, will not work games and will not be eligible to be subbed in initially.

But, the development officials will work with a crew during the week.

Wed • 4:07 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

NFL has not ruled out using regulars for tomorrow night’s game between the Browns and Ravens.

Realistically, I don’t see how they can pull that off, but optimism abounds.

Wed • 3:59 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The officials can be ready for tomorrow night’s game. One locked-out official told me “when this ends, I will be ready at a moment’s notice.”  However, in all likelihood, they will have to wait until Week 5 because of a variety of logistical factors.

Wed • 2:59 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jim Daopoulos, former NFL officiating supervisor and current NBC Sports rules analyst, says that upwards of 20 union officials may be concerned about passing a physical before returning to work.

Wed • 2:30 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Jason La Canfora tweets:

There will be debate and back and forth about how close the NFL is to a deal w/refs.  And until its over it aint over.  But, bottom line: things would have to totally fall apart for replacement refs to work beyond Week 4, if in fact they’re even on the job come Sunday.


Wed • 2:22 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Story by Peter King saying the NFL and NFLRA have made progress in negotiations, but no deal yet.

Wed • 1:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Peter King of Sports Illustrated via Twitter:

I’m hearing NFLRA negotiator Scott Green has notified officials that a deal is not imminent. Stay tuned, obviously.

Wed • 1:01 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Albert Breer of NFL Network is reporting that the league and the union have agreed on the proposal for three full crews’ worth of officials to be hired (21 in total). The new officials would have an apprenticeship role, being mentored by the current referees, presumably by rotating them into existing crews to gain field experience

Wed • 1:01 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports an agreement is very close.

Wed • 10:28 am EDT • Mark Schultz

According to Mike Freeman of, the NFL and NFL Referees Association appear to be making progress in negotiations to end the lockout of the game’s regular officials.

Freeman reports that the two sides have agreed to a mentoring program, in response to the NFL’s proposal to create a “bench system” that would pull under-performing officials off the field and have them replaced with others.  According to the report, that issue is settled.

Unfortunately, the big issue of pensions is still unresolved.  Freeman says the NFLRA offered concessions on the pension issue but commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL owners are holding firm.

As of this writing, it looks like the NFL have replacement officials for Week 4, but there appears to be some hope of labor peace on the horizon.

Sun • 11:59 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Patriots at Ravens

The winning field goal was barely good – it just snuck inside the upright and was correctly called by the official.  Patriots coach, Bill Belichick, chased down a replacement official and grabbed his arm trying to argue with him.  That will most likely draw a fine.

Update: Video

Sun • 11:54 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Patriots at Ravens

Ragged end partially redeemed by a good DPI on New England to set up a chip shot Ravens’ win.

Sun • 11:44 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Patriots at Ravens

The second half has been marked by inconsistent holding, illegal contact, and pass interference calls.  A major controversy erupted when John Harbaugh was called for unsportsmanlike conduct right before the two minute warning.  Harbaugh claimed he was coming onto the field to call timeout.  The NBC announcers have been quite outspoken about solving the lockout.  This game is finishing on a low note.

Sun • 10:18 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Lockout News

At halftime of Sunday Night Football, Peter King reported that the NFL and the NFL Referees Association met for most of the day today with the mediator.

No deal yet, and no further talks scheduled as of now.

Sun • 8:02 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bengals at Redskins

Redskins assistant, Kyle Shannahan, reportedly chases down and berates an official.

Warning: NSFW language

Sun • 7:26 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Steelers at Raiders

Steelers wide receiver, Antonio Brown, fumbles in the field of play and recovers his own fumble for a touchdown (video).

Good job by the officials to hold the whistle, let the play unfold, and make a ruling.

Sun • 6:31 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Eagles at Cardinals

Cardinals return a fumble by Eagles QB, Michael Vick for a 93-yard TD.  Cardinals wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, runs out of the team box to accompany James Sanders to the endzone.  I don’t think it would have wiped out the TD, but that could have been a flag.  Non-players have to stay in the team box while a down is in progress (video).

Sun • 6:27 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Texans at Broncos

Matt Schaub hurt after two successive roughing the passer calls.  Jerry Frump’s crew will have to work to keep a lid on things.

Update: Schaub returned after missing one play.

Update #2:  video

Sun • 5:51 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

49ers at Vikings

Referee Ken Roan says he mistakenly awarded the 49ers extra challenges. The whole fiasco is in its own post.

Sun • 5:48 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Eagles at Cardinals

Officials initially rule a Vick fumble down by contact.  It is properly overturned by replay and the Cardinals get the ball (video).

Sun • 5:29 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Bengals at Redskins

“There was confusion over whether a false start penalty against the Redskins should have resulted in an automatic clock runoff that would have ended the game.  Officials said that since it was a dead ball foul there would be no runoff.”  (from

Since the clock was already dead and the offensive foul didn’t result in the clock stopping, this appears to be a good call.

Sun • 5:20 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bear with me … a lot to write about here.

Sun • 3:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Buccaneers at Cowboys

A deep official marked a player out of bounds with his hat, but instead of dropping it right on the line, he flings it into the end zone. Cowboys receiver Kevin Ogletree eats turf after slipping on the hat (video). This is why the proper mechanic is to place the hat on the line and not in the field of play and in the path of a player. I cannot see from the video who was the out-of-bounds player, but it might have been a player on the end line.

Sun • 3:38 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jets at Dolphins

Jets were penalized for a 15-yard roughing-the-kicker, when there was no contact with the punter. Even if the official was sure there was contact, it should have been running into the kicker (5 yards). Roughing usually is contact on the kicker’s plant leg, hyperextending the kicking leg, or just some kind of blatant roughness. Absent that, the running-into-the-kicker penalty should be called if the defense does not touch the punted ball (block or partial block).

Tue • 12:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

A summary of our in-game tweets can be found on Storify.

Mon • 11:30 pm EDT • Ben Austro

I just knew there was going to be problems early in the first quarter (@footballzebras, 9:03 p.m. EDT)

Mon • 11:10 pm EDT • Ben Austro

And, on a 1st and 10 from the Broncos 15 in the 3rd quarter, Falcons quarterback runs for four yards and the Broncos commit a defensive holding penalty. Now, we know it’s a five-yard penalty, but since that was a gain by the offense, the 5 yards is tacked onto the end of the run. The officials erroneously spotted the ball 5 yards from the spot of the foul, netting 1 yard on the penalty.

The correct enforcement was applied after game supervisor Neely Dunn paged down to the field. There was a delay of four minutes between snaps because of the administration of the penalty. This is a huge advantage for the defense, as they ordinarily would have had less than a minute (with the penalty announcement and a 25-second clock) to decide on their defensive play call.

Mon • 10:32 pm EDT • Ben Austro

During the drive that the Broncos scored a touchdown before halftime, they got a five-yard boost from the officials. A defensive holding penalty was marked off as a 10-yard penalty instead of 5 yards. This is a major shortcoming with the replacement referees, who are used to the rules of college, and are under-studied on the differences in the NFL rules.

Incidentally, it is the duty of the game supervisor (tonight, Neely Dunn) to relay a correct spot to the field through the alternate official.

Mon • 10:20 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Pro Football Talk weighs in on the officiating even before halftime!

Mon • 10:01 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Will this be the game that brings the NFL back to the bargaining table?

Mon • 9:38 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

:02 first quarter.  That fumble scrum too way took long to resolve and the crew did a poor job of controlling the situation.  First of all, you have to determine possession as soon as possible.  At least one official, if not more, should orbit the pile and control the players.  A fumble scrum is a very emotional time.  Possession is on the line.  Tempers are short.  Determine possession quickly and keep the players not involved in the scrum away.

Mon • 9:22 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Broncos at Falcons

5:27 of the first quarter.  Good reversal of the pass interference.  The ball was tipped.

Mon • 9:01 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

After further review, I think it is the Fox 40 Caul.

Edit:  The referee switched back to a Fox 40 pea-less finger whistle for the second half.

Mon • 8:56 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

The referee is using a different sounding whistle.  I’ve never heard that style before.

Mon • 12:47 am EDT • Ben Austro

Since we don’t have the “Official Review” on NFL Network anymore, Fox Sports rules analyst Mike Pereira provides the video review. The missed called were numerous, but he singled out:

  • Rams challenge of a fumble (that is up to the replay official and a 15-yard penalty if the coach tries to challenge)
  • A chop block called against the Seahawks (this particular play is legal in the NFL, illegal in college)

Video at Fox Sports.

Sun • 9:59 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Ravens at Eagles

DeSean Jackson of the Eagles and Cary Williams of the Ravens get into a scrap.  The officials did a pretty good job of breaking it up.  Jackson continues to jaw at the Ravens’ bench after the confrontation and an official should have gotten him out of there sooner; however a when these events break out it is sometimes hard to keep track of things (video).

Sun • 9:25 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Lions at 49ers

Apparently, there is an outbreak today of pass interference calls that are completely nonexistent. The 49ers got dinged in the first quarter, despite very slight inconsequential contact (video).

Sun • 8:53 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Redskins at Rams

Josh Morgan of the Washington Redskins costs his team with a silly unsportsmanlike foul.  His foul forced the Redskins to try a 62-yard field goal in order to tie, instead of a 47-yard field goal.  Kudos to the official for throwing the flag and making the right call.  As an official you can’t think about game ramifications, you have to call what you see.  He could have turned a blind eye but did not. (video)

Sun • 8:48 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Jets at Steelers

After watching that video, it was a phantom DPI call in the Steelers-Jets game.  There was no advantage gained by the defender.

Sun • 7:13 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jets at Steelers

Generally judgement calls are outside of my scope of coverage, so I like to stay out of pass interference and holding calls. But when an interference penalty is called, it does require some kind of contact. In a fourth quarter call, Steelers defensive back was called on Ike Taylor, despite textbook coverage where there wasn’t even a hint of contact on the receiver.

Update: Video available

Sun • 6:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Redskins at Rams

Titans coach Jeff Fisher challenged a fumble call on a turnover by running back Steven Jackson. The new rule this season is that turnovers are not subject to coach’s challenges — only the replay booth can initiate a challenge on a turnover. Unfortunately for the Rams, when a coach initiates a challenge on a play he’s not permitted to challenge, it is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Fortunately for Fisher and the Rams, the replacement referees did not assess the 15-yard penalty as required. This is not a judgement call; it is a clear misapplication of the rules.

Sun • 1:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Buccaneers at Giants

Referee Jim Core is officiating his second Giants game in two weeks (technically, 11 days, but two football weeks). Generally, there is a gap of a month before an official repeats the same team. Since Core was a substitution on the crew assigned to the first week Giants game, this is probably how this happened, but usually the league is more aware (particularly at the more visible head referee position). Both games were Giants home games.

Tue • 1:12 am EDT • Ben Austro

I haven’t had a chance to go through all of the calls, but Timothy Burke at Deadspin has an excellent compilation of videos with some of the officiating mistakes from Sunday’s games. Some of the calls I don’t agree with, but maybe I’ll get time to make a counterpost on it.

Tue • 1:04 am EDT • Ben Austro

Not much to report from both Monday night games so far. Because of the high profile games, the NFL deliberately placed their most skilled replacement referees in these games.

Mon • 10:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jim Core, the referee of the Cowboys-Giants opener last Wednesday, is the crew chief tonight in the nightcap.

Mon • 8:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd quarter | 12:38 | Ravens 10-3 | BAL ball | 2nd & 4 @ CIN 34 | video

On the touchdown completion, it appears (to me) that Boldin completed the process of a catch and the touchdown stands. I agree with the replacement official.

Monday Night Football rules analyst Gerry Austin and Fox Sports rules analyst Mike Pereira disagree. They said that Boldin did not control the ball and that the ground aided the catch.

I did not see conclusive evidence (and by ruling the call “stands” instead of “confirmed,” referee Matt Nicks thinks so, too).

Mon • 7:30 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The referee in the first half of the doubleheader is Richard “Matt” Nicks, most recently of Mid-South Conference (NAIA) and Tennessee high school games.

Sun • 10:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro

In the first quarter, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning attempted to get off a quick snap to draw a 12-men-on-the-field penalty against the Steelers. The play went incomplete without a foul. Several problems on the play.

  1. Manning had the ball snapped without giving the umpire time to move into position after spotting the ball. That should have been ruled an illegal snap penalty, something that happened to Manning with great frequency in the 2010 preseason when they moved the umpire position to the offensive backfield.
  2. There were 12 men on the field at the time of the snap, which was not called, either
  3. Side judge Guy Trawick, aware that the snap was imminent, ran to his position by turning his back to the play.

Incidentally, we singled out Trawick in the preseason when we noticed he was about to be passed like a stalled car on the play, despite a 30-yard head start. To get to the goal line for the hands-up signal, he turned his back while sprinting down the sideline.

Sun • 9:21 pm EDT • Ben Austro

We have a post up now about the Seahawks’ 4th timeout granted in their failed comeback attempt. Also, the referee admits to the error to a pool reporter.

Sun • 8:05 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Working on a few summaries of some of the earlier calls today…

Sun • 7:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

49ers at Packers

4th quarter | 11:16 | SF ball | 4th down

Packers returned a punt for a touchdown, only to have an illegal block in the back penalty nullify the touchdown. After a conference, the officials waive off the penalty as if it never happened. (Problem: It did happen.)

The ruling allowed a momentum-shifting touchdown, and as the game is still on now, we are going to extrapolate this call to something bigger. Should this penalty help change the outcome of the game, and if both teams meet up in the NFC Championship game, this penalty might have played a role in determining home-field advantage in the game.

Update. Well it didn’t fundamentally alter the outcome of the game, but that should not minimize the seriousness of the non-call.

Sun • 5:25 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Redskins at Saints

2nd quarter | Redskins 20-7 | NO ball | 3rd & 7 @ WAS 22 | video

A tight call on the completion: Saints receiver Marques Colston just barely completes the process of the catch (called correctly), then immediately fumbles. The ball goes through the end zone, resulting in a touchback,, Redskins ball at the 20.

Incidentally, the replay rule for automatic review of turnovers does apply in this case, even though Washington didn’t recover the fumble (in this case, there was less than 2 minutes in the half, making it reviewable under those rules as well.)

Sun • 5:18 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jaguars at Vikings

Overtime | 11:06 | MIN 26-23 | MIN kickoff

For the first time since sudden-death overtime rules have been on the books (71 years!), a field goal in overtime was not immediately decisive. Because of the modified sudden-death rules, the Jaguars got a second chance in overtime, after allowing the Vikings to drive into field goal range.

The Jaguars eventually had an incomplete pass on fourth down, which ended the game immediately.

Sun • 4:02 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jaguars at Vikings are in overtime, modified sudden death rule applies if there is a field goal on the opening possession.

Thu • 12:12 am EDT • Ben Austro

Sorry for the lack of updates here through the night. There was not really much to cover. Cowboys had 13 penalties, Giants 4 (and I think an additional two that were declined). No replay challenges by either coach or by the replay official, so it was an easy check for Dale Hamer.

There also were no long processing delays of administering penalties and spotting the ball that were the essence of the 2012 preseason experience. We noted that Core had a lengthy delay between downs during the Buccaneers-Redskins preseason closer that included two trips to the replay equipment.

The NFL knew which crew scored the best, so placed them in the primetime kickoff slot. It was Jim Winterberg’s crew — minus Jim Winterberg. (In fairness, Winterberg may have been scheduled to work as an alternate this week.) Expect the Sunday night game and the Monday night doubleheader to have the top rated crews from preseason.

There were a few collegiate mannerisms that bubbled up in the game and some sloppy microphone work that sounded like it came from a diner cook off some New Jersey highway. But in the long run, that has absolutely no effect on the game.

Overall, a fair and square game. It could have hurt the NFL’s collective bargaining position greatly, but it did not move the needle in either direction.

We shall see what Sunday has in store for us.

Wed • 10:40 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jim Core has improved his announcements for the second half. The first call of the 3rd quarter was penalty, uniform number, offense, yardage, succeeding down. Apparently the game supervisor reviewed microphone presence with him during halftime.

Wed • 9:58 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Now’s as good of a time as any to pull this stat out: Tonight’s game is the 5th Wednesday NFL game since 1940. The last, 1948 New York Yankees (yes, a football team, too) at the Los Angeles Dons.

Wed • 9:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Line judge Joshua Thurow just called a completed catch in bounds. Good, professional call.

Wed • 9:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

A classic horse-collar tackle called on Dallas during the interception return.Giants settle for a FG, so it kept 4 points off the board.

Wed • 9:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Minor quibble, but it’s a professional thing. Penalty announcements are: penalty, number, offense/defense, yards, succeeding down. Not one announcement has had all these.

Wed • 8:55 pm EDT • Ben Austro

If the replay that NBC showed was the “clipping” penalty, then that wasn’t clipping.

Wed • 8:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jim Core called a clipping penalty, but did not announce a uniform number. With all of the problems getting the right number announced in the preseason, maybe they are not even going to identify penalized numbers?

Wed • 8:46 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Tonight’s referee, Jim Core, was noted for going back “for another look” at a replay in the final week of the preseason.

Sat • 12:16 am EDT • Ben Austro

Perhaps only for our amusement, referee Jerry Frump announces a kickoff-out-of-bounds penalty to the wrong sideline during the second quarter of the Jets-Bengals game.

Fri • 11:10 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Giants committed an illegal forward pass with 2 seconds remaining in the game. Because the Giants are trailing, the penalty takes a 10-second runoff, which would have ended the game right there. The referee reviewed the penalty (reviewable since iit related to the line of scrimmage) but failed to take the remaining time off the clock. (Giants were sacked on the next play).

Fri • 8:37 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Things have been fairly quiet so far. Bouncing between two games right now.

Fri • 7:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jets-Bengals have three members of their officiating crew who worked as strikebreakers during the 2001 referee strike.

Thu • 11:34 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Big mistake corrected by replay in Bills-Redskins game. A punt by the Bills is downed at the 4 yard line. The ensuing Redskins snap is spotted at the 20-yard line, ruling a touchback. The back judge was standing at the 5-yard line, thinking he was on the goal line, apparently. Buffalo had to use a challenge to correct this.

Thu • 11:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The back judge gets outhussled early in the Saints-Patriots game, unless he was intending on playing a nickel defense.

Thu • 10:37 pm EDT • Ben Austro

By the way, the regular replay officials are in the booth for all games. They are covered under a different collective bargaining agreement, and it is usually negotiated by the referees’ union after the field referees’ CBA.

Thu • 10:20 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Ravens-Falcons | 3rd qtr | 2:08. Referee Craig Ochoa, the referee from the Hall of Fame game, blew a play dead, announcing:

The first-down chains were not set prior to the snap, so we shut down the play prior to the snap itself.

It was after a defensive pass interference enforcement. Remember, there was a bad spot during the Hall of Fame game after an incomplete pass that was blamed on the down box on the wrong line.

Thu • 10:07 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Referee Robert Frazier and crew in the Bears-Broncos game enforced 10 yards for defensive holding. In the NFL, it is a 5-yard penalty. H/t @PostTVJeff

Sun • 11:44 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Backtracking to the beginning of the fourth quarter: there was a challenge flag thrown on an interception. In the regular season, that would be a 15-yard penalty, because all turnovers are not subject to a coach’s challenge, only a “booth challenge.” (The replay booth initiated a review anyway, but I believe the penalty would stand.)

Sun • 11:25 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Overall, no major misses that could be used as leverage in the collective bargaining talks between the league and the referees union.

Sun • 11:14 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Lawrence Wilson save us from the new modified-sudden-death overtime procedure with the interception at the goal line!

Sun • 11:09 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Good conference by four officials: intentional grounding and unnecessary roughness offset.

Sun • 10:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

It would be nice for the NFL Network crew to tell us there is a timeout, rather than just dumping us into commercial.

Sun • 10:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The “down box” was incorrectly placed after an incomplete pass?

Sun • 10:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Questionable non-call intentional grounding. Referee said there was a receiver in the area.

Sun • 10:49 pm EDT • Ben Austro

No helmet-to-helmet contact is called when the hit is on the ball carrier. Correct non-call.

Sun • 10:30 pm EDT • Ben Austro

And technically, there is a choice of enforcement point (repeat 4th or allow the punt to count). Good huddle up to get the correct call.

Sun • 10:29 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Little oops on the penalty announcement. “…re-kick” instead of “…repeat 4th down.”

Sun • 10:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Well, fairly quiet, which is good. I am sure that by the third quarter, the crew has hit their stride. Not bad for a preseason opener for even a veteran crew, the two bobbles notwithstanding.

Sun • 10:03 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

On a punt where the goal line is threatened, the back judge has a major responsibility to protect the receiver, and then rule on the goal line.  The photo grab appears to be the deep wing (SJ or FJ).  The back judge should be just out of the photo to the left and should have been in straddling the goal line to rule on the goal line.  The cardinal rule for the back judge is “don’t get beat deep” especially when the goal line is threatened.

Sun • 9:33 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Umpire Tim Morris has adapted to the NFL’s unique positioning. The “U” is in the offensive backfield, except for the final 5 minutes of the half and certain goal-line situations.

Sun • 9:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro reporting that the opening coin toss was announced incorrectly.

Sun • 9:04 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

It has been noted that the replacements do not have position names above their uniform numbers (R, U, HL, etc.) My guess is that some officials might work different positions this pre-season, or it is a nod to the replacement’s temporary status.  Just guesses.

Sun • 8:59 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Here’s a shot from the end zone on the touchback that should have been called.

Sun • 8:53 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Extra whistles and echoing whistles are a bad habit at the HS and lower college levels.  The covering official should be the only one to sound the whistle indicating that the ball is dead.  The other six officials should only sound the whistle if they have to break up a skirmish or alert the referee that there is a flag on the play.

Sun • 8:46 pm EDT • Ben Austro

19 YARD ERROR. Kicking team player recovered the punt and his butt touched the end zone. They ruled down at the 1, when in should have been a touchback.

Sun • 8:45 pm EDT • Mark Schultz

Knickers are gone. NFL officials going all black pants. NCAA switched to black pants full time last year. Hat tip to Becky10 at Behind the Football Stripes.

Sun • 8:32 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Fewer whistles in the last two series.

Sun • 8:31 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Thanks to NFL Network’s coverage, we had no idea we were in a replay review until after the referee’s announcement. Managed to talk over most of that, too.

Sun • 8:20 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Not sure what caused umpire Tim Morris to run in on the extra-point attempt and stop it. Looked like the officials might have been confused over the defensive line (cannot have a man over the center on a scrimmage kick).

Sun • 8:18 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Not a huge deal, but a lot of whistles at the end each play. Usually, the whistle is only reserved when there is no clear dead ball. Once a player is obviously down, a whistle is not necessary. Minor quibble, though.

Sun • 10:37 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The New England Patriots and the New York Giants are headed to Super Bowl XLVI. Your referee is John Parry.

Sun • 10:17 pm EDT • Ben Austro

OT | 13:38. Both teams now have the opportunity to possess. We are now in regular sudden-death overtime. First. Score. Wins.

Sun • 10:10 pm EDT • Scott Diller

4th Qtr | 0:00 San Francisco would not have been able to advance that fumble unless it was recovered by the player who fumbled, Delanie Walker, so the play was dead as soon as it was recovered by Kendall Hunter.

Sun • 10:08 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Here is the Cliff’s Notes version of the new modified sudden death overtime rules.

Sun • 10:02 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th qtr | 2:00. Forward progress was ruled prior to the runner losing the ball. The whistle also blew first, so no fumble. It is not a reviewable play.

Sun • 9:32 pm EDT • Scott Diller

4th Qtr | 9:22 49ers free safety Dashon Goldson did not get there too early on an incomplete pass to Hakeem Nicks, but did seem to have hold of Nicks’ facemask as he twisted Nicks to the ground. Goldson may have gotten away with one there.

Sun • 9:23 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Looks like we have “incontrovertable” evidence of the ball touching the kick returner.

Sun • 9:17 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Why was the umpire scurrying away from the ball when the delay of game penalty was called? The umpire was keeping the ball dry, and so he zips out as soon as the offense takes the line of scrimmage. That said, it looks like the 49ers were looking for the delay of game penalty, anyway, to give them more room to avoid a touchback on the punt.

Sun • 8:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

First half. Penalties: Giants 3 for 15 yards (illegal use of hands, invalid fair catch signal, delay of game); 49ers 3 for 35 yards (unsportsmanlike conduct, unnecessary roughness, delay of game). Replay: Booth review on the 49ers touchdown allowed the call to stand.

Sun • 8:26 pm EDT • Ben Austro

During the personal foul call in the second quarter, members of the 49ers bench started onto the field, when someone wearing a blue jacket came in to maintain the peace.

It is referee Jeff Triplette, who is at the game as an alternate in case of an injury. (H/t to FredFan7 at Behind the Football Stripes)

Sun • 8:09 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Don’t tell Chris Webber, but calling a timeout when you don’t have one is not a penalty.

Sun • 8:07 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Victor Cruz flopped himself to the turf during his run after the catch. He knows that counts as giving ones self up: Odd ruling saves Cruz from being NY goat

Sun • 7:59 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Back to the unnecessary roughness penalty, two drives back. Two players locked up after the play and Anthony Davis lost his helmet. The officials gave both players a “there, there” as it was post-contact jamming, and more a continuation of the play. However, Vernon Davis for the 49ers came in separately, well after the conclusion of the play, and made contact which could not be ignored. Line judge John Hussey did not hesitate to flag that action, while everyone held their flags on the earlier post-play activity.

Sun • 7:51 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Rarely called, that is the signal for invalid fair catch signal. Blackmon’s hand goes over his head, which causes confusion. Correct call, rather than just giving him the fair catch at the spot.


Sun • 7:42 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Although I would be the first one to jump on Joe Buck for talking out of the opening normally not wired with a microphone, he is correct. It was, according to the league, “grandfathered in” as he said. But, more accurately, they crafted the rules around the Lambeau Leap to keep it legal.

Sun • 7:38 pm EDT • Scott Diller

I’m not sure Joe Buck was entirely accurate when he said it was “grandfathered in.” It was more likely used as an example of what is acceptable vs. what isn’t, much like spiking he ball or dunking it over the goalpost.

Sun • 7:38 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Ed Hochuli’s microphone was cut off after the replay description earlier. We were able to get the rest of the announcement:

Uncontroverted evidence means evidence that indisputable and not open to question. In equity proceedings, where it is clearly shown that a trial court failed to consider uncontroverted evidence, or that the finding and decree are clearly against the weight of the evidence, the Court may consider the entire record, weigh the evidence, and render such judgment as the trial court should have rendered. But the court will not weigh the evidence in every equitable proceeding brought to the court, but will only do so where it is clearly shown that the trial court failed to consider uncontroverted evidence, or that the finding and decree are clearly against the weight of evidence.

(Actually, credit to

Sun • 7:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Regarding the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the 49ers touchdown: When you stand on a camera stand you are taunting your opponent. When Packers do a “Lambeau Leap” into the stands, you are not the focus, the fans are. Obviously, they did not want to legislate the Leap out of the game, but grandstanding yourself on a camera stand is not the same.

Sun • 7:23 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Jacobs was definitely short of the line to gain, and difficult to see real-time. They got this one right.

Sun • 7:16 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 2:23 On a 4th down run by Brandon Jacobs, the ball was spotted about a half-yard short. After viewing the replay several times, the spot was correct.

Sun • 7:11 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Loved the smirk after he flubbed uncontroverted.

Sun • 7:10 pm EDT • Ben Austro

In Game 1, the announcement by Alberto Riveron:

After further review, the ruling on the field stands.

In Game 2, Ed Hochuli:

To reverse on replay, there must be uncontroverted evidence that the ruling on the field is wrong. In other words, you have to be certain. Here, the ruling on the field stands. It is a touchdown. The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty will be enforced on the kickoff.

Hochuli is an attorney during the week, so his courtroom terminology comes to the gridiron. Motion for the defense, denied.

Sun • 6:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st qtr | 11:58. Despite “a lot of contact,” both players are playing the ball, not the opposing player. No pass interference.

Sun • 6:44 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Hochuli is officiating a conference championship in consecutive seasons.

Sun • 6:20 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Incomplete pass in the end zone for the Ravens: In order to complete the process of the catch, you must have two feet down and have the ability to complete a football move. If the ball is dropped or knocked down there must be some recognizable amount of time possessing the ball after the second foot. These are called “bang-bang” plays where the ball pops out with the second foot. A still frame of the foot being down doesn’t finish that catch immediately.

Sun • 6:13 pm EDT • Scott Diller

4th Qtr | 0:22 Lee Evans needed to get both feet down in order for the catch in the end zone to count. The ball was knocked out by Sterling Moore just prior to Evans’ second foot came down. Good call on the field.

Sun • 5:57 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 7:22. On the Ravens interception in the end zone, back judge Keith Ferguson made the right call in real time.

Sun • 5:37 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 12:19. One hell of a spot for head linesman Kent Payne on the third down and goal. The runner had the ball in his right (upfield) arm. That was as close as it gets.

Sun • 5:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The replay angle right down the goal line cinches it: Tom Brady’s knee was down, and Riveron overturned the touchdown.

Sun • 5:34 pm EDT • Scott Diller

4th Qtr | 12:19 This touchdown on a Tom Brady run should be reversed by replay, as Brady’s knee was down just prior to the ball reaching the front of the goal line. The last replay shown, right along the goal line, was conclusive.

Sun • 5:34 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Another replay review on the way, but it appears that the ball broke the plane of the end zone prior to the knee going down.

The call on the field is touchdown, so we are looking for conclusive evidence that it is not a touchdown.

Sun • 5:32 pm EDT • Scott Diller

You could argue that both of those interceptions directly resulted from those penalties, and would not have happened otherwise. Brady knew he had a free play on the most recent one, and the earlier illegal contact call caused the receiver to deflect the ball instead of securing it cleanly.

Sun • 5:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | :10 Second Ravens interception by the Ravens that was negated by penalty (offsides for this one, illegal contact on the first-quarter pick).

Sun • 5:20 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd Qtr | 3:48. On the replay review of the touchdown, it appears that the runner is out of bounds from the end-zone angle. However, a side angle shows a little sliver of green between the sideline and his shoe, meaning he is still in bounds. There is no conclusive evidence to overturn, therefore the touchdown call on the field stands. In fact, the announcement was “the ruling on the field stands,” otherwise Riveron would have said “the ruling is confirmed.”

Update: Video of the play

Sun • 4:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

First half summary. Penalties: Ravens 3 for 18 yards (illegal contact erased interception, facemask, false start); Patriots 1 for 5 yards (12 men on the field for point-after-touchdown kick). Replay: No reviews.

Sun • 4:50 pm EDT • Scott Diller

It may not have been enough to qualify as indisputable visual evidence, but still might have been worth challenging. In real time, it certainly didn’t look like a catch.

Sun • 4:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Looks like it was worth a challenge by the Ravens Patriots (sorry, typing fast). Even in slow-motion, you have difficulty seeing the left foot, unless you pause it. Even with the benefit of replay, commentator Phil Simms said “definitely out of bounds,” because the replay rolled forward enough to not see both.

Sun • 4:31 pm EDT • Scott Diller

A freeze frame of the aforementioned non-catch:

Sun • 4:27 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 3:11 A close call on a Rob Gronkowski catch. In real time, it looks like a good call, but on the super slow motion replay, it appears his left foot was still on the ground just as the pass hits his hands. Then his right foot comes down in bounds, before the left comes down out of bounds.

Sun • 4:20 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 3:15 No intentional grounding on a Tom Brady pass, as Danny Woodhead was in the area and it reached the line of scrimmage.

Sun • 4:07 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 7:11 Great spot on a Ray Rice run on 3rd and inches. No part of Rice’s body was down until his back hit the turf.

Sun • 4:03 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The officials declared the play dead once the player’s helmet comes off. From the Rulebook, 7-2-1(r):

Dead Ball Declared. An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended … when a runner’s helmet comes completely off.

Sun • 3:44 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Dilly said:

Ben should chime in….

I need to get a second keyboard to tweet and live blog at the same time. 🙂

Sun • 3:42 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st qtr | 4:38. On the punt return, the runner was pushed backwards, but then, under his own power, went further backwards in an effort to navigate around the blocking. In this case, the punt returner does not get the benefit of his forward progress.

Sun • 3:42 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st qtr | 5:49. Good spot by line judge Podraza on forward progress by Williams. Even though he was spun around, and looked like he made a second effort, he was still contained.

Sun • 3:40 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 5:49 Interesting spot on a 1st down Ricky Williams run. His initial forward progress was between the 15 & 16 yard line, but was then pushed back, then seemed to lunge forward again to around the 13. The ball was spotted at about the 14. Ben should chime in, but I believe that if the runner starts forward again after being pushed back, this constitutes a new forward progress spot. The final spot was somewhere between the two.

Sun • 3:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Line judge Tim Podraza is officiating his first championship game. Generally, only officials with five years’ seniority are selected, but Podraza is in his fourth season.

Sun • 3:13 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st qtr | 13:40 Ravens punt: no contact with the punter, even though he flopped on the ground. If any of the Patriots had contacted him, they were all actively blocked, so they would not have been penalized.

Sun • 8:10 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Game summary. Penalties: Giants 3 for 30 yards, Packers 3 for 20 yards. Replays: All were in the first quarter. First, the Packers had a fumble overturned to down by contact. Second, a down-by-contact call was not ruled a fumble on a Giants challenge. Then, there was a booth review for the Giants’ Hail Mary touchdown. At halftime, there were two yellow penalty flags and three red challenge flags (metaphorically including the booth challenge).

Game ball this weekend goes to John Parry’s crew in the Saints-49ers game. The entire crew kept calm in a back-and-forth game where one bad call could have changed everything.

Sun • 7:38 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Spoke too soon. It looks like Leavy called a roughing-the-passer penalty when he saw the jarring movement of Aaron Rodgers head. This is why a penalty is not called when you see the effects of a perceived helmet hit and not an actually observed helmet hit. That was a bad penalty at a critical juncture.

Sun • 7:28 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The crew is atoning for its 1st quarter missed call/missed challenge on the fumble that was ruled down by contact. Good regrouping at halftime, as this crew now looks like the other three officiating crews this weekend.

Sun • 7:25 pm EDT • Scott Diller

4th Qtr | 6:53 Ryan Grant fumbled before he was down. Green Bay did not challenge, as it was clear from the replay. Good job by the officials in letting it play out.

Sun • 7:13 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 3:20 Eli Manning was not guilty of intentional grounding. The pass fell at the feet of Bradshaw, meaning there was a receiver in the area, negating the penalty.

Sun • 6:36 pm EDT • Scott Diller

First half summary. Penalties: Giants 1 for 5 yards, Packers 1 for 10 yards. Replay: One challenge by the Giants was upheld on the controversial Jennings non-fumble. One challenge by the Packers overturned a fumble on special teams. The replay booth also called for a review of the Hail Mary touchdown pass at the end of the half, which was confirmed.

Sun • 6:31 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Sorry for the outage. We had some server problems, and we will try to catch up.

Sun • 5:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st Qtr | 1:45 Leavy denies the challenge to the Giants on a fumble. Even though the play was allowed to run as if it were a fumble, the on-field ruling was determined to be a fumble.

Although it appears that the ball did come out, Leavy ruled that some part of the runner’s body was down.

Had the Giants won the challenge, they would not have been entitled to the runback.

Sun • 5:02 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Regarding the 12 in the huddle play, I didn’t see anything. The Giants already went to the line of scrimmage, and as was ruled in the Giants-Falcons game last weekend, the timeout cannot save you. If, after you’ve broken the huddle, the officials see 12 players exiting the huddle, they may call 12 in the huddle after the fact.

However, if they break the huddle and make a substitution, the defense is allowed to make a reactionary substitution.

Sun • 4:59 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 13:45 The Giants may have gotten away with 12 men in the huddle on a 3rd & 8 play. The broadcast did not show the huddle up, so New York may have been running a no-huddle. Eli took the timeout so that they didn’t run the play with 12 men on the field.


Sun • 4:58 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st qtr | 8:24. Reversal is, in fact, ruled by Leavy.

Sun • 4:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st qtr | 8:24 A fumble recovery by the Giants will be overturned on replay. The Packers returner had a knee down and then an elbow before the ball came loose. Down by contact at the 20.

Sun • 4:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st qtr | 12:15. Good spot (veteran head linesman George Hayward) on the reception by Victor Cruz as a first down. He was down a yard short of the first-down line, then got up and got the first down. Cruz was not down by contact, because contact came before he caught the ball

Sun • 4:40 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bill Leavy has three other members of his seven-man crew. As for the other three: two are likely assigned to the conference championship game and one is a rookie and, therefore, ineligible for a postseason assignment.

Field judge Jim Quirk is officiating in his first season of postseason eligibility.

Sun • 4:17 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Game summary. That must have been a nerve-wracking game to officiate. Many tight calls that were called correctly. The two replay reversals were a matter of inches and correctly overturned. Penalties: None in the second half, except a Texans penalty that was declined. Texans 3 for 20 yards, Ravens were not penalized. Replay: A Ravens challenge was upheld, two booth reviews overturned the spot of the ball.

Sun • 4:05 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 1:38 A quarter yard to go for the first down, as Morelli reviews the spot of the ball in relation to the first down.

Sun • 3:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th qtr | 2:07. The potential for a Texans fumble is not reviewable, because there is a down-by-contact ruling.

Sun • 3:47 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th Qtr | 8:11. The Texans were able to gain yardage on their own fumble. The restriction is placed on fumbles after the two-minute warning or on fourth down. (In those cases, the ball goes back to the spot of the fumble.)

Sun • 3:41 pm EDT • Scott Diller

4th Qtr | 10:22 Texans defensive back Daniel Manning bumped into Ravens receiver Ed Dickson a split-second before the ball reached Dickson on a second down pass play. In real time, it looked simultaneous. Only on replay could you see Manning disrupt the receiver just before the ball arrived.

Sun • 3:28 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Earlier, there was a Ravens injury to Ed Reed. The rule is that the injured player must sit out for one down. However, if the team calls a timeout, the player may return. Rulebook, 4-5-3:

When an injury timeout is called, the injured player must leave the game for the completion of one down. The player will be permitted to remain in the game if: (a) either team calls a charged team timeout…

Sun • 3:19 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 1:53 On two straight Ray Rice runs, the officials spotted the ball well, just short of the goal line on each run.

Sun • 3:19 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd qtr | 1:59. Two quick, decisive calls by the line judge, Byron Boston. Ravens were short on the 3rd-and-goal and 4th-and-goal plays. Video of the play:

Sun • 2:35 pm EDT • Ben Austro

First half summary. Penalties: Texans 3 for 20 yards, Ravens have none. Replay: One challenge by the Ravens was upheld; one booth review reversed the touchback

Sun • 2:34 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | :28. Tough call to make in real time, but a correct reversal. It was clear that the Ravens, downing the ball, stepped into the end zone. That means the player is considered in the end zone, even if he is in the air.

Sun • 2:34 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 0:28 Baltimore DB Danny Gorrer stepped on the goal line just before jumping and batting the ball down inside the five. The sideline replay showed this clearly. This overturned the call on the field, from the ball being spotted at the 1, to a touchback. A rare missed call on the field by this crew.

Sun • 2:14 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | 10:10 . Easy call for Morelli on the review. No visual evidence that Foster stepped out.

Sun • 2:12 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 10:10 Baltimore challenged that Arian Foster went out of bounds on a sideline run, but a couple of relays showed no clear evidence that any part of his foot stepped on white chalk. There was not enough to overturn the call on the field.

Sun • 2:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | 11:46. First appearance of referee Pete Morelli on the false start penalty. Well-called game so far.

Sun • 1:32 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 8:13 Anquan Boldin made a sideline catch. One of the announcers said that he thought Boldin’s right foot came down out of bounds, but after he gained possession, his right toe tapped in bounds prior to coming down out of bounds. It’s a good catch.

Sun • 1:31 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st qtr | 11:25. Ravens Jimmy Smith recovered a muffed punt (misplayed catch on a punt) by the Texans. Smith fell on the ball, because he could not have advanced the recovered ball by rule. Therefore, rather than staying on his feet to score a touchdown (and potentially botching the recovery), Smith simply fell on the loose ball. Back judge Rob Vernatchi seemed to call the play dead after Smith was touched by a Texans player, but in actuality, it should have been declared dead upon recovery. Rulebook, 9-3-2, Item 1:

Legal Catch or Recovery. If the receiving team touches the ball beyond the line, a subsequent catch or recovery by the kicking team is legal, but the ball is dead. In the event of such a catch or recovery, it is first-and-10 for the kickers, or if the ball is caught or recovered by the kickers in the receiver’s end zone, it is a touchdown for the kickers.

Sun • 1:21 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 10:35 Flacco’s body seemed to go over the goal line on the second down play, but it’s possible the ball was tucked lower on his body. The point of the ball has to cross the front of the goal line, regardless of where the runner’s body is. It amazes me how the officials can see the ball in that mass of humanity. Even on the replay, it’s impossible to tell where the ball was.

Sat • 11:47 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The recap, after the conclusion of the night game. Penalties: Saints had no enforced penalties (one was declined), 49ers were penalized 3 times for 33 yards, with 2 penalties declined. Replays: The Saints challenged a fumble which was overturned; the replay booth looked at a 49ers touchdown that was upheld.

Sat • 11:25 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th qtr | 3:10. Just to keep it interesting, the Patriots punted on third down! First time I ever recall seeing that.

Sat • 11:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th qtr | 6:33. Steratore improvised a signal for a horse-collar tackle. The only signal is the personal foul signal.

Sat • 10:05 pm EDT • Ben Austro

First half summary. Penalties: Broncos 1 for 15 yards, Patriots 1 for 5 yards. Replays: one replay review upheld a Patriots touchdown

Sat • 9:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | 1:19. A timeout was called by the Broncos slightly after play clock expired. However, you gain about a half second as the officials have to observe :00 first, then turn their attention back to play. If, in that brief moment, they see a timeout signal (or if they see the ball is snapped), the offense gets the benefit of the doubt.

Sat • 9:42 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 1:57 There was some hand contact between Deion Branch and Andre’ Goodman on the touchdown, which is allowed if neither player gains an advantage. Branch did push off a bit, but it was not called, as it rarely is in similar plays.

Sat • 9:07 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 13:45 No illegal contact to Gronkowski on the 2nd down incomplete pass, as it was within five yards. If the ball was already in the air, it could’ve been pass interference, but the pass was not yet thrown.

Sat • 8:51 pm EDT • Ben Austro

And you can tell that Steratore is also a college basketball referee. While announcing the call on the field, he punctuated the announcement with “forward progress,” as if he was yelling to the scorer’s table.

Sat • 8:47 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 5:23 Good forward progress call on the Demaryius Thomas catch. Once he starts getting pushed back, there can be no fumble unless he starts making progress again before the whistle is  blown.

Sat • 8:38 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 6:42 Unbeknownst to Phil Simms, the point of the ball can hit the ground, as long as the receiver maintains control the whole time, which it appears he does. An angle not shown on the broadcast showing the ball moving would be needed to overturn this one, as the few they showed appear to be a catch.

Sat • 8:28 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 10:07 First big call of the game, and it was an easy one, as Tebow fumbles. The ball was out before his arm started forward.

Sat • 8:21 pm EDT • Ben Austro


Sat • 8:00 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th qtr | 2:18. Apparently, illegal substitution was under review for the touchdown.

Sat • 7:59 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Despite the protests of 10 men in the huddle, the 49ers did have 12 men in the huddle. Alex Smith retreated from the huddle while another offensive substitute exited the field. The counting starts when the quarterback enters the huddle, and just because he exits the huddle, the penalty is still called.

Sat • 7:13 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 1:42 Same goes for you, Mr. Williams. Strange that the 49ers would go right back to trying another pick on the play immediately after being called for it.

Sat • 7:10 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 1:48 That’s a legal check in hockey, or pick in basketball, but not in the NFL, Mr. Ginn.

Sat • 6:58 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd qtr | 6:40 On a 49ers backwards pass that hit the ground, head linesman Derick Bowers emphatically signaled for a backward pass. This was likely something that was discussed in the officials’ meetings this week after the two incidents from last week.

Sat • 6:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd qtr | 8:43 Drew Brees signaled timeout before the snap (and before the expiration of the play clock), and the play resulted in an incomplete pass. It was a sloppy call to award the timeout after hearing an appeal from Saints coach Sean Payton. Yes, they should have granted the timeout, but they should have shut down the play.

Sat • 6:30 pm EDT • Ben Austro

First half statistics. Penalties: Saints 0, 49ers 2 for 28 yards, including the questionable defensive pass interference early in the first quarter. Replay: One replay review reversed a Saints fumble.

Sat • 6:19 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Also, Brees’ knee was not down, nor was he past the line of scrimmage.

Sat • 6:18 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | :04 A quick shovel pass forward is still ruled an incomplete forward pass, not a fumble.

Sat • 6:07 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Once they did call down-by-contact, it is no longer reviewable. But the right call was made on the field. Also, the contact in a down-by-contact call must come after the catch, not before.

Sat • 6:04 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 1:49 Tarell Brown should be down by contact. Good call to conference and get the call right without the need for replay.

Sat • 5:33 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | 12:22. A replay reversal on a catch by Saints receiver Darren Sproles. The initial ruling was that the ball was stripped from his possession prior to his knee touching, but the replay showed otherwise.

Sat • 5:28 pm EDT • Scott Diller

First bad call of the game, though that early pass interference was close, too.

Sat • 5:27 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 12:22 Sproles is clearly down by contact with control. This will be overturned.

Sat • 4:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Also, there is no helmet-to-helmet contact, as Thomas is not in a defenseless posture. Video of the play:

Sat • 4:48 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 8:44 Pierre Thomas fumbled. Forward progress would only be called if the runner was wrapped up and being pushed backwards.

Sat • 4:42 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 11:34 Enough contact + head not turned around is pass interference on Whitner.

Sat • 4:31 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Line judge Rusty Banes gets a postseason assignment in his first year of eligibility.

Sun • 8:53 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Penalties: Steelers 6 for 61 yards, Broncos 5 for 30 yards.

The replay booth was busy:

  • Steelers challenged a 21 yard completion, which was reversed.
  • Broncos challenged a 52 yard completion, which was reversed.
  • A Steelers touchdown was reviewed by the replay official, and reversed to have the ball spotted at the 1.
  • Broncos challenged a fumble ruling which was upheld
  • Broncos challenged an incomplete pass to get a recovery on a backwards pass. Simply stated, the Broncos would not have gotten the ball even if they won the challenge, so the challenge was withdrawn.

Sun • 8:39 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Rewinding to the fourth quarter, 14:15 remaining

john mitchell asked:

Was the pass behind the line of scrimmage. If so there should have not been pass interference. Did not see a replay. Denver ball on the 2.

The foul was downfield, and #12 for the Broncos was engaged all the way to the end zone with the defender. Even though it was on the offense, the fact that the pass was behind the line doesn’t negate the interference downfield.

Sun • 8:10 pm EDT • Ben Austro

I spent more time explaining the modified sudden death rules than the actual duration of the overtime!

Sun • 8:01 pm EDT • Ben Austro


We have our first Modified Sudden Death game … or “last licks” from elementary school days

Sun • 7:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Just in case, here are the modified sudden death rules.

Sun • 7:40 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Overturned and no more challenges available to the Broncos for the rest of the game.

Sun • 7:36 pm EDT • Scott Diller

4th Qtr | 7:35 Denver challenges the McGahee fumble, but replay before the break clearly shows that the ball is out before either knee hits the ground. They will lose this one.

Sun • 7:18 pm EDT • Scott Diller

4th Qtr | 13:56 Denver wanted a facemask penalty on PIT DE Cameron Heyward, but he grabbed Lance Ball by the front of the jersey, so it’s a good no-call.

Sun • 7:07 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Not sure where the distinction between fumbles and backward passes factors in (still looking), but here is the rule that keeps the defense from recovering the misplayed lateral:

Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1.

An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended … when an official sounds his whistle while the ball is still in play, the ball becomes dead immediately;

(i) If the ball is in player possession, the team in possession may elect to put the ball in play where it has been declared dead or to replay the down.
(ii) If the ball is a loose ball resulting from a fumble, backward pass, or illegal forward pass, the team last in possession may elect to put the ball in play at the spot where possession was lost or to replay the down.

Sun • 6:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd qtr | 4:52. Ron Winter back under the hood to review a Steelers touchdown.

Sun • 6:56 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 4:52. This Isaac Redman touchdown should be overturned, and the ball placed inside the 1. Definitely not a fumble, though, for two reasons. His knee was down before the ball came out, and the ball came out because of hitting the ground, which would be down by contact.

Sun • 6:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Actually, let me retract that. Backwards passes and fumbles are not equivalent. This would have been ruled a loss of a yard rather than a Broncos recovery. Although, I think the rule is that once a challenge is requested, it must be granted.

Sun • 6:47 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd qtr | 8:07. That was clearly a backwards pass (lateral), and it was ruled an incomplete forward pass. Replay can overturn the play and rule for a Denver recovery.

John Fox should win this challenge, and he will then be entitled the the rare third challenge.

Sun • 6:46 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd qtr | 8:07 Denver challenges an incomplete pass, which looks pretty clearly to be a fumble recovered by Denver. They should win their second challenge, getting the ball and an extra challenge.

Sun • 6:43 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd qtr | 9:57. I do believe that is a 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty in all four Wild Card games.

Sun • 6:42 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 9:57 And now the circle is complete. 12 men in the huddle on the Steelers, makes it at least once in each game this weekend.

Sun • 6:34 pm EDT • Ben Austro

mm commented below:

re: review, incomplete pass. The player was not going to the ground when he made the catch. He got 2 feet down before being tackled. He then lost the ball after he was down. I think they made the right call originally.

The process of the catch involves these steps: When you control the ball, get two feet down, and then be able to do something other than falling down. In this case, contact is irrelevant. The receiver has to do more than just catching the ball and using the ground as a crutch, because that is what was defined to be a professional catch.

Like it or not, that is the rule, and it was applied correctly. It does make for some odd situations where 50 people in a bar think it’s complete, but it sets an objective bar for the criteria for a completion, rather than leaving the official to judge the catch on subjectivity.

Sun • 6:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro

First half summary. Penalties: Steelers 1 for 9 yards, Broncos 4 for 20 yards. Two challenges resulted in two reversals. The Steelers had a Broncos 21-yard completion ruled incomplete, and the Broncos were able to erase a 52-yard completions by the Steelers.

Sun • 6:17 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Doesn’t count as a penalty, as Wallace was an open-field runner. Odd distinction in the rule, but correct.

Sun • 6:09 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 5:53 Denver FS Quinton Carter should have been flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Mike Wallace on a 3rd down catch. We’ve seen much less contact get flagged, including the Harrison roughing the passer call earlier.

Sun • 5:38 pm EDT • Ben Austro

I was spending the commercial in DVR mode, but the replay after the commercial confirms…

Sun • 5:35 pm EDT • Scott Diller

The first replay back from break showed it pretty clearly. Play correctly overturned

Sun • 5:34 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 13:21 Denver challeges a long Mike Wallace catch. Initial replays before the break do not show a good angle of the ball.

Sun • 5:34 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Broncos are challenging the completion. As are we.

Sun • 5:29 pm EDT • Scott Diller

On the TD, I originally thought Eddie Royal did not get both feet down before his backside touched out of bounds, but his right knee did. Replay official confirmed the TD.

Sun • 5:29 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | 13:24 Short delay to confirm the touchdown, but no formal review was necessary.

Sun • 5:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Touchdown Broncos, but I would expect a review after seeing the live shot only.

Sun • 5:25 pm EDT • Ben Austro

… and obviously I am wrong. I was looking at the fumble aspect, but, yes that is an incomplete pass.

Sun • 5:22 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Pittsburgh challenging that play, but will likely lose it.

Sun • 5:22 pm EDT • Ben Austro

First challenge of Sunday. Steelers are going to lose a challenge.

Sun • 5:21 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 14:44 Eric Decker was correctly called down by contact, as the ball came out simultaneous to his hitting the ground.

Sun • 5:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st qtr | 0:27 A lot of contact on the pass, but no pass interference foul. Most of the contact was incidental and players getting their feet tangled. Ben Roethlisberger tries to plead his case with head linesman  Julian Mapp

Sun • 5:15 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 0:27 The contact on Antonio Brown was all within five yards before the pass, and he was tripped incidentally by another defender. It was close, but seems like the correct non-call.

Sun • 4:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Ron Winter is the referee. Two officials are substituting from Ed Hochuli’s crew, including second-year official Ronald Torbert at side judge. This is the first year of postseason eligibility for Torbert, and it is quite a statement that he’s in as a sub. Torbert cannot qualify for a conference championship until his fifth year, so this tells that he scored very well that the officiating department decided to put him in this game without his regular crew.

Sun • 4:20 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Penalties: Falcons 3 for 15 yards (plus one that was declined by the Giants),  Giants 7 for 73  (+2 declined). One penalty resulted in the only two points the Falcons scored. No challenges or reviews made for an easy game check for the replay official. However, there was a key non-review on a first down spot near the end of the second quarter. In a game of a lot of tight ball-spotting calls, the one that jumps out is the missed spot.

Sun • 4:00 pm EDT • Scott Diller

That Williams tackle  reminded me a lot of the Nick Fairley tackle of Pierre Thomas that was not flagged yesterday. Both were shortly after the whistle, but Fairley’s tackle was much more forceful. Video of the hit:

Sun • 3:58 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th qtr | 2:33 There doesn’t seem to be much more that Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams could have done on the play to avoid the 15-yard roughness penalty and keep the player from achieving the first down.

Sun • 3:30 pm EDT • Scott Diller

4th Qtr | 10:47 Back to a good spot on the Jacobs run, whose knee was down before he rolled forward to the sticks.

Sun • 3:17 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Easy call on the illegal block in the back when the blocker is shoved into a somersault.

Sun • 3:15 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 4:21 Possibly another bad spot, as Roddy White was down at the 21, but the officials spotted him just outside the 20, just inches shy of the first down. Then, the Falcons went for it and were stuffed. Had they been spotted a full yard short, they may have kicked the FG instead.

Sun • 3:14 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Huge penalty on the Falcons for 12 men in the huddle. One yard short on the 3rd-and-15, and loss on downs on 4th. Giants then turn it around for seven points.

Sun • 3:09 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 5:10 We’ve now seen illegal substitution (12 men in the huddle) penalties in each of this weekend’s games. These are playoff teams, remember.

Sun • 3:04 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd qtr | 5:14 No grounding penalty on Ryan: well outside the tackle box, and pass made it beyond the line of scrimmage.

Sun • 3:03 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 5:14 Ryan did two things that Manning didn’t earlier: he got out of the pocket, and he threw it past the line of scrimmage. No intentional grounding there.

Sun • 2:57 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 7:51 Owens contacted Nicks plenty before the pass, but it was within five yards, and there was no holding. Nor was there any altering the movement of the receiver once the ball was in the air. I think that’s a good no-call.

Sun • 2:42 pm EDT • Ben Austro

First half summary

Penalties: Falcons 1 for 5 yards, Giants 3 for 28. Falcons also declined 1 penalty. Falcons get a safety on a Giants intentional grounding penalty. No challenges or replays in the first half, although, there was one that was missed by the replay official.

Of all the tight calls on spots, this one will be the one that is remembered, not the six of them that were right. And if you are playing the Joe Buck drinking game, and you had “It depends on the spot,” then you are flat on your ass right now.

Sun • 2:38 pm EDT • Scott Diller

The “official” first down marker is seen at the bottom of the screen.

Sun • 2:38 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Bad call there. NFL analyst Mike Pereira is discussing on Fox right now (and he tweeted that right after you posted).

Sun • 2:24 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd qtr | 1:23 The 2nd down completion to Nicks looked like it may have been spotted a bit short of forward progress. A rare miss that may have cost the Giants the ball. Plus there was no measurement, which was also odd.

Sun • 2:23 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | :29 Head-first slide by Falcons’ Matt Ryan goes to the spot of the ball at the end of the slide. If it was feet first, then it would go to the the spot at the beginning of the slide.

Sun • 2:16 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Also, field judge Laird Hayes had at least three sideline calls on punts which are not easy.

Sun • 2:08 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Video of the 4th-and-inches play for the Falcons:

Sun • 2:03 pm EDT • Scott Diller

And all three spots looked spot on.

Sun • 2:02 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | 3:31 Head linesman Phil McKinnely and line judge Tom Symonette have had some hard spotting calls on three short yardage situations.

Sun • 1:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Clear intentional grounding, but good communication with Cheffers’ crew to make sure all criteria met. Spot foul in end zone is a safety

Sun • 1:49 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 13:44 Three close calls in a row, and all appear to be correct. The ball was correctly spotted just short of a first down on 3rd & 4th down for the Falcons. Then Eli Manning threw the ball away while in the end zone, but did not get it back to the line of scrimmage, nor was there a receiver in the area, resulting in a safety.

Sun • 1:17 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Qtr | 10:57 Eli Manning’s knee was down just before the ball was ripped out. Good call in real time by the crew.

Sat • 11:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Stats for the game. Penalties: Lions 7 for 62 yards, Saints 3 for 18, both with 1 declined penalty, 1 pair of offsetting penalties. No coach’s challenges. One replay review overturned a Saints touchdown and upheld a Lions touchdown.

Sat • 10:52 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Video of the touchdown:

The ball even crosses the plane before the pylon is contacted.

Sat • 10:23 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 1:08 It looks like Stafford’s knee goes down at the exact same time that the ball hits the pylon. Seems like the call on the field, and after the review, is correct.

Sat • 10:11 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Al Michaels should know the rule that you can recover after a whistle. (from a Sunday Night game in 2009 when the rule came into effect)

Sat • 10:04 pm EDT • Scott Diller

3rd Qtr | 8:44 Generous spot on the Colston catch on 3rd & 11. Looks like it may have been a half yard short, but no challenge by the Lions.

Sat • 9:50 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth said the officials cannot give the ball to the Lions, because  they recovered after the whistle. Wrong!

Sat • 9:36 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Now the Lions get one in their favor on the “process of the catch.” See the story we ran at that time.

Sat • 9:31 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 0:16 Saints WR Marques Colston lost the catch after he went to the ground. As the rules currently stands, this is incomplete, though this interpretation has come under some scrutiny in the past couple of years, most notably due to a non-catch by Calvin Johnson in Week 1 of the 2010 season vs. the Bears.

Sat • 9:18 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 4:23 Nick Fairley’s tackle of Pierre Thomas could have been flagged for unnecessary roughness, as it was just after the whistle, but was not. Fairley executed a side suplex that would make Arn Anderson proud.

Sat • 9:15 pm EDT • Scott Diller

Lastly, it appears the Lions recovered on the 36, but the ball was spotted around the 37-38 yard line.

Sat • 9:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

The recovery after the whistle is allowed after a high-profile play in ’08 when referee Ed Hochuli ruled a fumble an incomplete pass. Under the rules at the time, he could not reverse to a fumble recovery. The rule was changed in that  offseason.

Sat • 9:13 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Tony Corrente was right on with the fumble call, but one of the linesman blew his whistle for incomplete. Since the ball is loose, you can play through the whistle and make an immediate recovery, but you cannot advance the ball.

Sat • 9:10 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 5:39 Definitely a fumble by Brees. However, several whistles were blowing before the ball was recovered, so the play should have been called dead at the whistle, if I’m not mistaken.

Sat • 8:58 pm EDT • Ben Austro

I re-checked that. Corrente said “the spot of the ball is correct.” It looked like they moved from the 12 to the 13, but they did in fact have it on the 13, because that’s where the sticks were.

Sat • 8:54 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 13:54 There was some confusion as to the spot at the beginning of the DET drive after the illegal block in the back penalty on the kickoff. The crew had a brief conference and correctly re-spotted the ball on the 13 yard line.

Sat • 8:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Quiet first quarter and moving along quickly. 1 penalty for 12 men in the huddle on the Lions. NBC didn’t even give Tony Corrente any face time.

Sat • 8:08 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Welcome to the Game 2 live blog. Tony Corrente and his crew will be officiating today. Corrente took several weeks off during the season for cancer treatments and was still able to qualify for a postseason assignment. Great to see him make the cut!

Sat • 7:45 pm EDT • Ben Austro

A quiet second half, officiating-wise. Bengals were penalized 3 times for 25 yards, Texans 5 for 87. One Texans penalty declined. No second half challenges.

Sat • 7:13 pm EDT • Ben Austro

4th qtr | 7:38 Not heard on TV: Bengals declined the penalty for delay of game prior to the punt. Still, they wound up being pinned inside the 10 yard line after the punt.

Sat • 7:10 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Also by rolling forward and sticking the ball out, Gresham completed the process of the catch by making a football move. That could have been close, but certainly a catch.

Sat • 7:05 pm EDT • Scott Diller

4th Qtr | 13:30 Decisive call on a catch by the Bengals’ Jermaine Gresham. He clearly had control and was down before the defender jarred it loose. No conference required.

Sat • 6:24 pm EDT • Ben Austro

First half statistics

Bengals 2 penalties for 20 yards, Texans 3 for 72. Two challenges by the Bengals, both upheld, and the Bengals are without challenges throughout the rest of the game. No challenges by the Texans bench and no replay reviews initiated by the replay booth.

Sat • 6:15 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Was that challenge because Lewis thought the receiver did not have control of the ball? The ball can move around while still maintaining control. Bad challenge

Sat • 5:56 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | 2:00 Want to know why Blakeman’s crew is in the playoffs? They have been able to communicate and call a tight game through now. Good call to pick up the flag, as Texans lineman Mike Brisiel was pushed into the pile.

Sat • 5:55 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 2:00 Good job picking up the flag on a late hit, as #65 Mike Brisiel of HOU was pushed into the pile by a defender.

Sat • 5:48 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Blakeman announces the challenge as “down by contact.” Looks like CIN will be w/o challenges for the rest of the game

Sat • 5:48 pm EDT • Scott Diller

I would even argue that Daniels had the ball and was down before the defender got his own hands around it. Play should be upheld.

Sat • 5:46 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | 4:33 Looks like simultaneous possession, which goes to the receiver.

Sat • 5:38 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 7:57 A.J. Green and Brice McCain had their arms tangled. Interference could have been called on either or both of them, so a good no-call.

Sat • 5:33 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 9:02 Donald Lee was down by contact before the ball came out. The ground can’t cause a fumble.

Sat • 5:31 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Blakeman rules that the runner is short; Bengals challenge fails

Sat • 5:31 pm EDT • Scott Diller

2nd Qtr | 10:02 Replay shows that Benson’s elbow hit short of the 30. Call correctly upheld.

Sat • 5:30 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Clearly short

Sat • 5:29 pm EDT • Ben Austro

2nd qtr | 10:02 CIN challenges the spot in relation to a first down

Sat • 5:13 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Quarter | 2:31 remaining | 7-7. Bernard Scott of the Bengals converted a 2nd and 1 for a first down. He seemed short, possibly, but the replay did not get a good shot of where the ball was when forward progress was stopped.

Sat • 5:11 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Back to the personal foul, that was flagged (correctly) as a blow to head/neck area, not helmet-to-helmet

Sat • 5:02 pm EDT • Scott Diller

1st Quarter | 6:31 remaining | Cin 7-0. Personal Foul for hitting a defenseless receiver to the head and neck on Reggie Nelson of Cincinnati. Looked like a good call live, and replay showed it clearly, good call.

Sat • 4:54 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Second penalty of the game is a big one: 53 yards. Easy call for back judge Terrence Miles.

Fri • 12:42 pm EDT • Ben Austro

3rd quarter | 15:00 remaining | Steelers 88-87 | Steelers ball | 3rd & 66 @ NYG 99

Longer game information line

Fri • 12:39 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st quarter | 15:00 remaining | No score | Saints ball | 1st & 10 @ DET 20


Fri • 12:36 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st quarter | 15:00 remaining | No score | Saints ball | 1st & 10 @ DET 20

Some text

Fri • 12:33 pm EDT • Ben Austro

H4 headline

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Fri • 12:28 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Testing the use of an H2 headline

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Fri • 12:27 pm EDT • Ben Austro

Testing the use of H3 headline

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Fri • 12:26 pm EDT • Ben Austro

1st quarter | 15:00 remaining | No score | Saints ball | 1st & 10 @ DET 20

Sample with game information to test the word wrap around floating box to the right.

Fri • 11:50 am EDT • Ben Austro

Here’s how a follow-up is posted.

Fri • 11:49 am EDT • Ben Austro

This is a test of the live blog system. This is only a test. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

  • R — #127 Bill Leavy (17th year, 11th as referee)
  • U — #44 Jeff Rice  (10th year)*
  • HL — #54 George Hayward (21st year)
  • LJ — #9 Mark Perlman (11th year)
  • FJ — #63 Jim Quirk (2nd year)
  • SJ — #128 Larry Rose (15th year)*
  • BJ — #93 Scott Helverson (9th year)*

*Rice is substituting from Jeff Triplette’s crew. Rose and Helverson are substituting from Scott Green’s crew. (Leavy’s side judge is a rookie, and therefore ineligible for a postseason assignment.)

39 comments for “Live blog: Giants at Packers

  1. john
    January 15, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I don’t believe this could be called this crews best game. I know they want like the post game meeting.

  2. Steve Ronis
    January 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Bill Leavy, I believe has some more apologizing to do. His two blown calls, one on review, not overturning the call on the field of a Packer fumble even had Mike Perreira confused. And the roughing call on the Giants, imaginary head slap of Rogers could have cost the NY giants the game.

    At least he should have asked the other zebras if they saw any roughing.

    At this level these calls are inexcusable

  3. BigBriii
    January 15, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    The worst officiated game I’ve seen in a loooooong time.

  4. adam yezer
    January 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Terrible job by the refs, as they said on a post game it looked like the regs were paid by State Farm Insurance to see more of the Aaron Rodgers Commercial. There were also some late hits on Manning that were not called but Rodgers a clean hit Osi.
    Even with instant reply still missed the fumble.

  5. joey D
    January 15, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Clearly biased officiating crew for the Pack. Didn’t matter, Giants won, but the game should have been Giants 37, Packers 7, Officials 13.

    At least 1 blown fumble call, but more likely it was 2.
    Horrible penalty against Osi.
    Incredibly horrible spots of the football against the Giants on numerous calls, but especially on Ware’s 3rd and 2 run, which was clearly a first down, but the spot showed virtually NO GAIN.

    These officials should be barred for the rest of the playoffs. Just an embarrassing job. The fact you didn’t think this was a bias job makes your site less credible.

  6. Ben Austro
    January 16, 2012 at 12:41 am

    The crew actually did very well. Yes, you heard me correctly. However, it was referee Bill Leavy who made two bad calls that sustained Packer drives.

    Keep in mind that the Packers still had to drive for the those additional points that the officials “gave” them. Good teams overcome bad/questionable/close calls just as much as they have to deal with weather conditions. It’s a part of the game.

    And no official has it “in” for any team. The risk is so great for no reward.

  7. Steve
    January 16, 2012 at 1:47 am

    You’re kidding, right? Who cares about the “crew” doing well? The referee is the key. Was this a well officiated game? Hell no. And it’s not just the fans who are dumbfounded, it’s all of the media as well. What about the horrendous spot on a Giants third down? This is the first time I’ve been to your site… and the last.

  8. chris
    January 16, 2012 at 4:53 am

    TOTALLY agree with you Steve. This was one of the most obvious examples of an attempt to fix a game I’ve seen in quite some time. Reminded me of Ed Hochuli in that Pitt-SD game a few years ago. Also reminded me of the first game between GB and NY this year…

    I know alot of the pro money was on the Giants bc the line opened at 9 and closed at 7.5… I’m guessing the fix was coming out of the Vegas bookmakers. Same could be said for that Pitt-SD game. The fix in the regular season game was straight from the league….wanting to see GB stay undefeated.

    The fact the Giants won this game handily, in spite of this obvious fix, is amazing!

  9. Steve
    January 16, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Chris: I don’t buy into the fix angle. Just certain teams getting the benefit of bad calls. Especially at home, But it doesn’t seem to apply to the Giants as witnessed by the horrendous job the Triplett crew did in the Green Bay game in NY. And then in the Atlanta playoff game, the calls went against the Giants.
    But how can a site like this that evaluates officiating say they crew did a good job. Ben, you care to respond?

  10. Curt
    January 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Towards the end of the second quarter, the Giants were in a position to score. On third down, ey threw a pass into the endzone that was dropped. On replay it looked clear that the Packer defender hit the receivers right elbow and that caused that hand to move prior to the ball arriving. Did I not see that correctly? Looked clear to the four of us watching at home, but one of my friends maintains there was no contact.

    I don’t like either team, just looking to see if anyone here caught that play so we can settle the argument.

  11. January 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Could anyone here tell me when/where I could find out who will be officiating the Giants-49ers playoff game on the 22nd.

    Thank you!

  12. Steve
    January 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I believe that was TE Jake Ballard in the middle of the end zone. There was contact, but a couple of things:
    1) It was not flagrant. I’ve seen that type of play not flagged just as often as it is; and
    2) I believe the ball may have been tipped. In which case, contact is allowed.

  13. Justin
    January 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I understand what Ben means about the officials calling a good game. Only 6 penalties in all and the game moved quickly from one play to the next without too much interference. Yes, that was clearly a fumble which calls Leavy into question coupled with the roughing call on Osi, but overall the game moved at a good pace without needless holding and PI calls to slow the whole thing down.

  14. Ben Austro
    January 16, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    If you are looking for a site that just bashes the officials, this is not for you. We feel that the internet has plenty of options for that type of commentary. We do call out bad calls, but it is in the context of the larger picture.

    We cover the officials as if they are an NFL team. When a team executes a good game and there are one or two plays where the quarterback makes a boneheaded decision, the coverage of the team reports that proportionally. A solid performance by the six gets overshadowed by some isolated decisions of one.

    Nobody is up in arms about the Giants maybe getting a break with no 12-men-in-the-huddle penalty. I don’t have any conclusive evidence, based upon the camera angles, but if it was a miss by the crew, it sustained the opening, momentum-setting drive.

    That doesn’t minimize Leavy’s calls and their impact on the game. I saw the fumble that wasn’t called. I saw the phantom roughing the passer. We all did. We also evaluated the 155 other plays that were part of the game and that is what Football bases its analysis on.

  15. Bison21
    January 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    If you’re going to support your argument with a non-call against the Giants then you need to look at some of the other calls/non-calls that went against the Giants. First, holding against Snee, giving the Giants a 1st and 20, was mild (if it was holding at all) compared to some of the blatant grabbing I saw by the Packers O line. Second, there was at least one occurrence of Eli getting slammed in the back and head well after the pass was thrown with no flag.

    12 men in the huddle? That’s feeble, Ben.

  16. J Moscardini
    January 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm


    I do understand the “big picture” (150+ plays) view, but I’m also a fan of statistics. And when you have such a distinct statistical imbalance in the bad or missed calls, which went against the Giants, a closer look (and some raised eyebrows) is certainly justified. If the Giants has lost this game, there would have been a angry mob calling for heads to roll, and there would probably have been an apology from the league. Just because the Giants won doesn’t release the the League from that apology. Despite all the talk of the blown fumble and roughing calls, I think the third down mis-spot of Ware’s run was absolutely unconscionable. I’ve replayed it several times. Just a horrible spot; one of the worst I’ve ever seen.

  17. Curt
    January 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks Steve. I did not recall the ball being tipped. If that happened then yes the defender is free to hit that receiver.

    I also don’t disagree that the contact wasn’t flagrant and often wouldnt be flagged, however, if it occurred before the ball got there and it caused the receiver to involuntarily move his hand I think it should be flagged if the ref saw it. I know many calls are judgement calls, but it would greatly simplify and make the game more fair if the rules were strictly enforced and consistent for both teams in every game. At least that’s my opinion.

  18. Ben Austro
    January 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    @Curt — pass interference is called by all downfield officials when one player has leveraged an advantage against the other player. How that is interpreted by those officials leads to inconsistency from crew to crew, but is generally — generally — called the same within a game.

  19. Ben Austro
    January 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    @Bison21: You are right, there are many other plays. The holding penalty on Snee seemed to be minor; could make a case that he overpowered the defender causing him to fall. The fact that it happened near the ball carrier gave an advantage to the offense, so I can see Leavy making the call there.

    I also saw that hit on Manning that should have been called. The defender clearly took two steps before hitting Manning after he threw the ball. It is missing from our coverage, because I we were having server issues at that time, and the live blog was not updating. I was busy under the hood trying to become an impromptu web server genius.

    I was not throwing out the solitary example to create some kind of balance. When the questionable/close/bad calls are tallied, the Packers got the advantage. It’s just the way it worked out, but it was not a concerted effort by the crew to tilt the scale in the Packers favor.

  20. Ben Austro
    January 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    By the way, we will be deconstructing the whole play that was under review in its own post. Working on that as we can find the time to do so.

  21. Curt
    January 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    @Ben -I agree however the first Action listed in the NFL rule is:

    (a) Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch.

    I would suggest that hitting the elbow and moving the arm and hand would restrict the receiver’s opportunity to make the catch and the defender clearly was not playing the ball. The contact may have been small but it doesn’t take much to cause someone to have their hands out of position to make he catch.

  22. Ben Austro
    January 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    Unwritten, though, there is regular season pass interference and postseason pass interference.

  23. Curt
    January 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    I guess the point I’m making is that if the referee sees it, the call should be made according to the letter of he rule. Interpreting whether or not X contact or action made enough of a difference will often lead to the referee making the wrong decision.

  24. Steve
    January 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    The point is this. The preponderance of bad calls went againts the Giants in this game and in the regular season game in NY. Ballard was in bounds; Jennings never had complete control through the catch.
    I don’t believe there is a conspiracy; just some lousy officiating. For you to rate the officiating in yesterday’s game as adequate is a joke. Just listen to the experts who are weighing in.
    Could you imagine if the Giants had lost? There would really be an outcry.
    How can you compare a 12 man in the huddle non-call to:
    1) A blown fumble call which was switched on the field and then upheld;
    2) A phantom roughing the passer call;
    3) A ticky-tack holding call on Snee, when Pierre-Paul seemed to be held a couple of times:
    4) Possible uncalled roughing the passer penalties on Manning;
    5) A HORRENDOUS spot on the Ware third and two run. While you’re reviewing the Jennings non-fumble, please take a look at this play too and let us know what you think of the spot.

  25. Ben Austro
    January 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Steve, as I said above, I isolated out one play and was not looking to show balance. Clearly, the bad calls favored the Packers. We covered #1 and #2. Number 3 is more borderline than you indicate, because a defender went down right near the ball carrier’s route. That will get called. #4 should have been called, too.

    As for the spot on Ware’s 3rd and 2. He’s sitting on the turf with the ball in his right hand. Both the line judge and head linesman spotted it short immediately. It was a good call, in light of the fact the I would have given him the first down without benefit of replay.

  26. Steve
    January 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Ben: You’re right. I stand corrected on the Ware spot. Still doesn’t take away from the overall below par officiating effort. I’ll leave it to you and the NFL to rate individual officials. As a fan, we look at the overall fairness of the calls, and this game did not leave many of us walking away with a positive feeling.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:50 am

    i was looking for answers to the disturbing calls I saw last night, after reading all of Ben’s explanations, it makes me feel disgusted to hear him trying to defend the impossible. It’s simply not possible that so many bad calls went only in Packers favor and still he thinks there is no evidence of a major plot. COMMON!!!! this is why I’ll never comeback to this site again. It’s simple disgusting to see someone ridicule himself in such a blatant way.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:20 am

    It’s common sense that if a ref is determined to change the outcome of a game, he isn’t going to miss the majority of the 150 calls, because that will draw too much attention, HE IS SIMPLY GOING TO “MISS” THE CRUCIAL CALLS. So Ben’s explanation that there is no plot just because the other 145 calls were done by the book, it’s simply a dumb reasoning. The problem for Bill Leavey is that he started the bad calls in hope that Packers will turn around the game soon but as time went by, he had to keep calling bad calls or missing obvious penaltys to the point we and MANY OTHERS will continue having this discussion. Hopefully he has raised so much fire, that more and more eyes will be on him, when he starts doing it again on another crucial game, CAUSE HE WILL, many others outraged football fans will raise their voices against this blatant cheating.

  29. Joe
    January 17, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    The League should be ashamed of themselves for harboring a criminal.

  30. Joe
    January 18, 2012 at 5:00 am

    Ben, shut down this ridiculous site. Leavy kept two Packer drives alive and ended two Giants drives unjustifiably in Lambeau field with Rodgers quarterbacking. A good team does not overcome the corruption which the entire nation, except for you, witnessed. It took Eli Manning a very hot defense and a very good Giants coaching staff to overcome.

  31. Mark
    January 18, 2012 at 8:59 am

    That frame above was after Ware was driven back. I’ve replayed it many times in slow motion and forward progress had the ball over the line before Ware “sat on the turf”. It was a terrible spot.
    I’ll agree, with a few exceptions, the crew in *general* did an ok job. But Bill Leavy proved to the world he has no business being on the field. And your pointing out the possible non-call with 12 Giants in the huddle just points out another blown call by Leavy and crew. Can’t he or they count to 12?

  32. Ben Austro
    January 18, 2012 at 9:20 am

    The still taken above was before Ware lunged forward, not afterward. To put it another way, Ware had not yet crossed the yellow line at the point of that image.

    We are unsure of the 12 men in the huddle penalty, because we don’t know if a substitute entered the field outside of the huddle or if the Giants even huddled at all. Those situations are not penalized. We will never know unless another camera angle comes forth to show us what happened while the network had us focused elsewhere.

  33. Mark
    January 18, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Not the way I remember it, but I didn’t save the game so can’t check it again. I’ll watch the replay of the game tonight on NFL Replay and if you’re right I’ll come back and say so.
    As for the 12 men in the huddle issue, you missed my point. *Our* view may have been focused elsewhere, but not the zebras, (or shouldn’t have been). *IF* the Giants got away with one, who’s fault would that be, Ben?

  34. Ben Austro
    January 18, 2012 at 10:21 am

    You answered your own question there. The officiating department has access to more video than we are, and they will know with absolute certainty one way or the other. (The league has one camera called “all 22,” which has all 22 players on the field in frame to check things such as this.)

  35. Mark
    January 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Great, glad to hear it. That means they’ll be able to see the illegal hits on Manning that weren’t called either. What isn’t clear however, is what the league does about it when they see missed or incorrect penalties. I understand that all officiating crews are examined and graded after the games, but that’s all I know. Perhaps you could elaborate further?

  36. Ben Austro
    January 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    The average accuracy of the officials is between 98% and 99% every year, according to the league. During the regular season, your on-field accuracy is one of the factors to get a playoff spot, which was the case with Mr. Leavy.

    Officials do get fired for poor accuracy marks — accuracy marks that you and I would struggle to achieve. One game, however, does not end a career. Scott Green held his flag on a botched field goal in a Giants-49ers playoff game in 2003. Terry McAulay incorrectly called pass interference on a desperation pass in a 1999 game in New England. Both were very pivotal calls in determining the result, and in both cases word got out that their boss thought they made a bad call.

    Later in their careers, Green and McAulay were promoted to head referees and both have been the crew chief at the Super Bowl.

    As for the evaluation process during the regular season, we have a post up on that from 2009.

    January 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Ben, just answer me this, Why are you so obsessed with justifying ref Leavy? Do you really believe someone can go from 99% accuracy during regular season earning a spot on the playoffs to missing by mere coincidence half of the big calls, and all of your “misses” were coincidently in favor of the same team, the one that needed the “break”, are you that naive?

  38. Mark
    January 18, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d have to struggle to achieve a 50-60% accuracy rate. This isn’t the first big game Leavy has blown calls on either…he admitted botching Superbowl XL.
    If you can botch the Superbowl and not get fired, what the heck does it take?

  39. Mark
    January 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Just to follow up on the Ware spot, that entire drive was mysteriously missing from the reshowing on NFL Replay so I wasn’t able to review it again. Giants recover the fumble after Osi swats the ball loose from Rodgers with 10:28 on the clock, 3rd period. Next play shown is 1st and 10, Green Bay ball with the clock at 8:48. I can only imagine why they didn’t want us to see it again….