AFC Divisional Playoff
We will be live blogging the calls and rules interpretations from the Texans-Ravens game.
Pete Morelli is the referee. Full crew list is at the bottom of the post.
Holten draws unsportsmanlike conduct foul
Raiders and Patriots in Mexico (video). Jonathan Jones and Johnny Holten go at it on a long pass play into the endzone. After the play, the Raiders’ Holten says something to Jones. Jones give a “get away from me” push and Holten responds to that with a shove to the face. Side judge Allen Baynes (number 56) flags Holten for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Down judge Jim Mello and back judge Keith Ferguson quickly intervene to keep Jones and Holten away from each other to avoid further confrontation.
That didn’t go the way it was drawn up
Dolphins at Buccaneers (video). The Dolphins try a multi-lateral play as time runs out. But, the play gets all sorts of upside down as the Dolphins mishandle a backward pass at the goal line and the Buccaneers jump on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Referee Tony Corrente and down judge Ed Walker make the call.
DPI and down by contact
Chiefs at Giants (video). Roger Lewis overcomes a pass interference penalty and makes a great catch. Was Lewis down by contact? It was close but Lewis was ruled down. Field judge Mike Weatherford and back judge Shawn Hochuli make the call.
Parry gets out of the way
Chargers at Bills (video). Referee John Parry does a good job getting out of the way on this Chargers pick-six. The first priority for the referee and umpire on these plays is to get out of the way–for their safety and to stay out of the way.
This play reminded me of a play in the 1982 AFC Championship Game when referee Pat Haggerty saw his life flash before his eyes (video).
Barry Anderson expects the unexpected
Bengals at Broncos (video). Dre Kirkpatrick intercepts the ball in his end zone for the Bengals and then starts heading the other way. He is in the wide open and suddenly fumbles the ball at Broncos 15. He recovers as he slides into the end zone, and the call on the goal line must be made: touchdown or down at the 1?
Watch the wide replay angle that shows umpire Barry Anderson turn on the jets as he keeps up with players a generation and a half younger than him. Anderson is in place to make the call, which was ruled down at the 1.
It was a 101-yard play, and it shows up on the Quirky Research list of longest interception returns that didn’t score. It would have topped the list, instead of being in the middle, but, statistically, the interception return ends when he fumbles.
Early taunting foul on T.J. Ward
Buccaneers at Dolphins (video). Jarvis Landry hauls in a one-handed catch for the Dolphins. This is not taunting.
Buccaneers safety T.J. Ward stood over Landry after he slings Landry out of bounds. This is taunting. In addition to giving a free 15 yards and a first down to the Dolphins, Ward was going through the entire game facing an ejection if he had a similar unsportsmanlike/taunting foul in the same category.
DJ32 Jeff Bergman injured
Colts at Packers (video). On a play where a loose ball could have been a pass or fumble, the Colts took no chances, as linebacker C.J. Mosely scooped up the loose ball. With the change of direction, the blocking on the play ensnared down judge Jeff Bergman, who was carted off and had to leave the game.
Jeff Triplette’s crew was in 6-person mechanics for the remaining 6:43 of the game, 1st-year line judge Danny Short worked the line of scrimmage from the opposite side where he could be responsible for the chains.
Fumble reversed to incomplete pass
Ravens at Packers. Late in the fourth quarter when a pass from Packers quarterback was apparently completed, fumbled, and recovered by the Ravens. After review, it was reversed to an incomplete pass. Even though the receiver was able to brace for contact, he never had complete possession of the ball so the catch process was not completed.
Holy Roller rule, vol. 2
Jaguars at Browns. The Jaguars had the ball inside the 2-minute warning, and running back T.J. Yeldon fumbled the ball. Receiver Keelan Cole recovered for the Jaguars several yards downfield. The Holy Roller Rule was front-of-mind for the officials, after a miss on Thursday night.
When there is a fumble on fourth down or inside the 2-minute warning, the fumbling player has to recover his own fumble. If a teammate recovers, the play is dead immediately. Then the ball is spotted at the more disadvantageous spot: the spot of the fumble or the spot of the recovery. In this case, field judge Jon Lucivansky is immediately pointing back to the spot of the fumble as soon as possession by the Jaguars is ascertained.
After all of that, the play was wiped out by an offensive holding call, but there was definitely a concerted effort to try to get the ball spot reverted as quickly as possible.
Offside onside kickoff
Jaguars at Browns (video). The Jaguars attempt a surprise onside kick in the first quarter. The wing officials are not surprised, though. The Jaguars were flagged for being offside. Incidentally, the holder of the kick is not considered offside as long as he is holding the ball in a standard manner. His presence over the line does not give the kicking team an advantage, and his positioning is due to necessity.
Cardinals at Texans. On a Texans punt, Cardinals safety Budda Baker tries to down the punt inside the 1-yard line. He is successful in keeping the ball out of the end zone, but can’t hold onto the ball. Justin Bethel also touches the ball for the Cardinals before Bruce Ellington picks up the ball for the Texans. Ellington retreats into the end zone, and is tackled for a safety. However, we are not done yet.
Since the Cardinals were the first to touch the punt, the Texans get a wide amount of latitude to make something of the play with little consequence. Conventionally, the receiving team may take the ball at the dead-ball spot or at the spot of the Cardinals “first touch.” There can be multiple first touch spots prior to the receiving team touching the ball, and the receiving team can opt to take the most advantageous of those. (It is recorded as an “illegal touch,” but it is a first-touch violation that shouldn’t be confused with other illegal touch fouls, as Fox commentator Ronde Barber frustratingly did.) The Texans get the first-touch spot (1-yard line) over the dead-ball spot (safety). The safety must be called as the result of the play first, so that the proper option can be selected.
(The scorekeeper records this as “downed” at the 1, which is not correct, since the Cardinals never possessed the ball.)
If the Texans committed a foul, they do not have the ability to return to the first-touch spot if the penalty is accepted. If the enforcement of the foul doesn’t override the safety, then it is 2 points for the Cardinals.
Texans challenged that the Cardinals first touch was when Baker was touching the goal line. That challenge was lost.
Officials donate to hurricane relief
Cardinals at Texans. The NFL Referees’ Association presented a check for $ 10,000 to the Houston Chapter of Football Officials of the Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO). The donation will help officials who saw their homes damaged and their football season eliminated by Hurricane Harvey during the recovery and repair process.
Ed Hochuli and his crew made the presentation from the sideline of NRG Stadium before today’s game.
NFLRA president Tony Steratore said, “The NFLRA is grateful for this opportunity to step up and help members of our officiating family.”
The following are scheduled substitutions, and we will revise if we see any late substitutions.
- U64 Dan Ferrell* and LJ 108 Gary Arthur to Coleman’s crew (WAS-NO)
- U129 Bill Schuster* to Anderson’s crew (KC-DAL)
- DJ13 Patrick Turner and FJ 118 David Meslow to Morelli’s crew (JAX-CLE)
- DJ48 Jim Mello to Hussey’s crew (NE-OAK/Mexico City)
- DJ123 Ed Walker to Corrente’s crew (TB-MIA)
- FJ15 Rick Patterson* to Torbert’s crew (LAC-JAX)
- FJ97 Tom Hill to Parry’s crew (BUF-LAC)
A mixed crew is assigned to DET-CHI under referee Gene Steratore:
- U81 Keith Ellison
- DJ22 Steve Stelljes (Morelli)
- LJ40 Brian Bolinger (Allen)
- FJ89 Jon Lucivansky (Vinovich)
- SJ26 Jabir Walker (Allen)
- BJ105 Dino Paganelli
- RO Jim Lapetina (Allen)
- U11 Fred Bryan
- DJ24 David Oliver (Steratore)
- LJ68 Tom Stephan (*)
- FJ116 Mike Weatherford (Steratore)
- SJ29 Adrian Hill (Steratore)
- BJ83 Shawn Hochuli
- RO Paul Weidner (Steratore)
*Swing officials that are assigned to different crews each week
- R — #135 Pete Morelli (15th year, 9th as referee)
- U — #71 Ruben Fowler (6th year)
- HL — #26 Mark Baltz (23rd year)
- LJ — #18 Byron Boston (17th year)*
- FJ — #89 Jon Lucivansky (3rd year)
- SJ — #95 James Coleman (7th year)*
- BJ — #75 Rob Vernatchi (8th year)
- Alternates — Paul King (#121, U from Terry McAuley’s crew), Barry Anderson (#20, FJ from Jeff Triplette’s crew).
*Boston and Coleman are from Walt Anderson’s crew