Football Zebras™

Live blog: Texans at Ravens

AFC Divisional Playoff

We will be live blogging the calls and rules interpretations from the Texans-Ravens game.

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

Pete Morelli is the referee. Full crew list is at the bottom of the post.

Ben Austro
Mon Oct 24 • 1:23 am EDT

Seahawks at Cardinals (video)

Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner was able to sneak over the offensive line on an overtime field goal kick by the Cardinals. The contact, again, is incidental, and it is not a leaping foul. The casebook that accompanies the rulebook makes this clear under Approved Ruling 12.85:

On a Try that is successful, defensive player B1 runs forward four yards and leaps in an attempt to block the kick. He comes down with little or no contact to a teammate or opponent.

Ruling: Try is good. No foul since the contact by B1 was incidental.

As for the kick that ricochets off the upright and back into the field of play, this is immediately a dead ball. The only exception is that a ball that hits the upright can still go through for a successful field goal.

The game ended in a 6-6 tie, which is the third time this happened in the NFL since 1940. The previous two occurrences happened before overtime was used in regular-season games. The Cardinals were involved in all three:

  • 1970 St. Louis Cardinals at Kansas City Chiefs
  • 1972 St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles
  • 2016 Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 10:34 pm EDT

Seahawks at Cardinals (video)

Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner leaps over the Cardinals line and blocks a field goal attempt. A leaping foul, one of a suite of scrimmage kick fouls contained under the unsportsmanlike conduct rules, is called if a player runs to the line, leaps, and lands on a player (either an opponent or a teammate). Wagner’s foot tapped the back of the center, but this is not a foul. Incidental contact with another player is not considered in a leaping foul. If Wagner put any weight into the contact, such as a step, then this would be leaping. Referee Terry McAulay conferenced briefly and determined there was no leaping foul and no kick-formation foul on the defense.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians sought to challenge the call. Arians really knows better, or his advisor on rules/challenge matters failed him miserably. There is some referee discretion if the challenge flag is thrown when there is genuine confusion over a reviewable aspect of a play. However, penalties (other than 12 men on the field) are not reviewable, and McAulay was not going to extend that benefit of doubt to Arians. The Cardinals are charged a timeout so that they don’t lose the challenge, and it would have been a 15-yard penalty assessed between downs if they didn’t have a penalty to give.

Update: Coach Arians addressed this in a postgame interview:

He definitely touched him. You know, I’m sure — we’ll talk to the league, and we’ll get some kind of explanation that’s all bullshit like normal

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 23 • 10:32 pm EDT

Washington at Detroit (video)

Field judge Terry Brown and back judge Terrance Miles call a field goal attempt no good after the ball bounced off the top of the upright. 

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 9:42 pm EDT

Chargers at Falcons

Falcons receiver Julio Jones cannot catch a break on interference in the waning seconds of regulation. Last week, an unseen pass interference by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman restricted Jones and no flag was thrown. This week, with 11 seconds remaining in a tied game, Jones was interfered with again on a pass that sailed over his head. This was ruled uncatchable, and the Chargers luckily dodged a flag.

Jones stopped his route and the ball was clearly overthrown. If the interference in any way prevented Jones from getting to the ball, the radius of catchability gets wider. Since Jones was leaping for the ball, the contact did not hinder Jones’s ability to get to the ball.

To be clear, this was not a held flag due to the game situation. It has everything to do with the trajectory of the pass in relation to the receiver.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 9:32 pm EDT

Chargers at Falcons

After presiding over an overtime game last Sunday night, referee Bill Vinovich opened the microphone at the coin toss, and said, “Well, gentlemen, this is my second one in a row.”

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 23 • 8:33 pm EDT

Buccaneers at 49ers (video)

Nick Bellore of the 49ers runs down to make a play….without a helmet. On the play, it is suspicious how Bellore lost his helmet; was it a missed facemask or hands to the face? Bellore didn’t seem to be upset that there was no flag.

In the NCAA if a player loses his helmet he has to go out for a play (unless he lost his helmet because someone fouled him). High school rules are the same and then NFHS adds another wrinkle. If this was a high school game, Bellore would have gotten a flag for participating in the play after his helmet came off.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 23 • 7:44 pm EDT

Chargers at Falcons (video)

Nice close up view of field judge Michael Banks calling a potential game-winning field goal no good.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 23 • 7:39 pm EDT

Bills at Dolphins (video)

Jarvis Landry of the Dolphins delivers a devastating block on Aaron Williams. Landry went in with the shoulder pads at chin level. The NFL wants this type of hit out of the game. Side judge Tom Hill flagged the personal foul. Umpire Fred Bryan called an offensive hold on this play and the Bills chose to enforce the 15-yard penalty.

Although it was a hard hit, it is not one that rises to the level of ejection. In-play ejections are extraordinarily rare, as contact is expected, as compared to post-whistle when there should be none.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 23 • 7:26 pm EDT

Chargers at Falcons (video)

Bill Vinovich’s crew with great clock awareness as the Falcons call time out with the score tied. While the clock ran out, the officials determined that the Falcons called timeout with one second left. The 58-yard field goal was no good and the game went to overtime.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 23 • 7:20 pm EDT

Raiders at Jaguars (video)

Marquette King makes lemonade out of lemons after scrambling for a first down on a bad snap from center. These are difficult plays to officiate as both teams are spread out and the officials have to widen their field of vision.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 23 • 7:12 pm EDT

Saints at Chiefs (video)

Head linesman Tony Veteri, Jr., picks up a flag for offensive pass interference. While the Saints did throw a pick at the line of scrimmage, the pass was caught behind the line of scrimmage, thus no foul.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 7:11 pm EDT

Raiders at Jaguars (video)

triplette-double-thumbsRaiders receiver Johnny Holton and Jaguars Jalen Ramsey started swinging punches at each other. Both players were ejected, and referee Jeff Triplette introduced the double-ejection signal.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 6:05 pm EDT

Bills at Dolphins (video)

A Reggie Bush touchdown was reviewed as he lost both the ball and his helmet as he crossed the goal line. By rule, when the helmet is completely off a ball carrier’s head, the play is dead immediately.

When the Bills running back loses control of the ball, it is not exactly clear where the ball is positioned, as he has it tucked inside his elbow. (It is also roughly the same time Bush’s knee came down, but there is still no definitive spot that takes the touchdown away.) Reviewing the helmet, it does appear to pop off prior to the ball breaking the plane. In order to make this determination, the helmet must be seen separated from the head. The freeze frame that shows his helmet askew can still be on Bush’s head, so the indisputable standard is not met. The touchdown call stands on both counts.

Patrick Weber
Sun Oct 23 • 4:26 pm EDT

Vikings at Eagles

At the 1:54 mark of the 4th quarter, the Vikings had the ball 1st and goal from the eight yard line. On the ensuing play, the Vikings were flagged for holding, and then were also penalized for an unsportsmanlike conduct foul, most likely for a foul against an official. Fouls against an official are not treated as part of a multiple foul, so they will stack on any other fouls in the play . Both penalties are enforced in this situation, and the Vikings then had 1st and goal from the 33 yard line.

Patrick Weber
Sun Oct 23 • 4:02 pm EDT

Vikings at Eagles

During the first half, there was a flag thrown for defensive pass interference on a long throw down the sideline to Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs. The flag was subsequently waved off, presumably because it was judged that Diggs simultaneously pulled on the shoulder of the defensive back. The initial call looked to have been the correct one however, because replays showed that the defensive back initiated contact with Diggs before ever turning to play the ball.


Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 2:54 pm EDT

Raiders at Jaguars (video)

After Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree scores a touchdown, he immediately throws the ball over his head, then brings his hand up to his neck/shoulder area. Crabtree was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct foul for a throat-slash gesture.

I did not see the flag from the back judge who was in the frame before the TV cut away to another shot. The announcers said this was where the alleged foul occurred, and it is unclear if there was an additional unseen gesture that drew the foul. If this is not the case, then this should not have been a flag.

Because of the new unsportsmanlike rules, this action (or nonaction) is even more costly. Crabtree faces an automatic ejection for any other similar unsportsmanlike foul in the remaining half of the game. This is an incredibly harsh penalty if the first infraction was in error.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 2:41 pm EDT

Vikings at Eagles

The Vikings were flagged for roughing the kicker on a successful extra-point kick by the Eagles. Rather than kicking off at the 50-yard line, the Eagles opted to take the 1 point off the board and assess on a 2-point try. This gives the ball to the Eagles at the 1-yard line, and quarterback Carson Wentz carried the ball for the 2 points.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 2:11 pm EDT

Colts at Titans (video)

After scoring the touchdown on the tackle-eligible play, Titans punter Brett Kern bobbles the hold on the extra-point attempt. Kern attempts a pass to kicker Ryan Succop, who is an eligible receiver by virtue of lining up in the backfield. If Succop was able to get to the end zone, it would have been a 2-point conversion, even though it was a 1-point play.

While 2 points may be scored this way, a team cannot line up for a 2-point play and attempt a kick, either by dropkick or an improvised placekick. If such a kick goes through the goalposts, it is a failed extra-point attempt.

Before the implementation of the 2-point conversion rule by the NFL in 1994, a botched snap on the kick would result in a 1-point conversion if the kicking team was able to get the ball into the end zone.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 1:48 pm EDT

Colts at Titans (video)

Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan reports as an eligible receiver and catches a touchdown pass from Marcus Mariotta. Lewan was lined up legally at the end of the line, based on his reporting eligible.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 12:01 pm EDT

Giants vs. Rams (video)

London was treated to one of the most spectacular interception returns you’ll ever see. Giants safety Landon Collins ran an interception all over the Twickenham Stadium rugby pitch to the end zone, dodging tackles all the way. At the conclusion of the play, offensive guard Bobby Hart was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. But wait, the Giants were on defense; why is there a flag on an offensive player?

Hart entered the field to celebrate the touchdown, which is an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

CBS analyst Dan Fouts said that Hart is one unsportsmanlike foul away from ejection, but this shows Fouts’ lack of understanding of the rule. There are many unsportsmanlike acts, but the ones  that count towards an ejection do not include celebration fouls, unless it involves an act of taunting.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 23 • 9:00 am EDT

Today’s officials


  • U 124 Carl Paganelli* to Morelli’s crew (TB-SF)
  • LJ 90 Mike Spanier* to Parry’s crew (CHI-GB/Thurs.)
  • FJ 95 James Coleman* to Hussey’s crew (MIN-PHI)
  • SJ 89 Jon Lucivansky* to Boger’s crew (IND-TEN)

*Swing officials that are moved between 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

5 comments for “Live blog: Texans at Ravens

  1. JHarry
    January 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    There was an injury timeout for Ed Reed’s injury early in the game. Wasn’t he supposed to sit out the next play?

  2. dilly
    January 15, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    @JHarry, that would be true if it was just an official timeout. The Ravens then had the option to take a team timeout, which they did. In that case, he can return on the play after the team time out.

  3. Lou Loveland
    January 15, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    I have a question in regards to the Jacoby Muffed punt during todays game of the Texans vs. Ravens.

    After Jacoby Jones tried to catch the ball on the bounce, he muff the punt and then turns to run after the ball. One of the Ravens then tackles him from behind well after the ball is no longer touching Jacoby.

    Is it legal to tackle the returner that doesn’t have the ball but is trying to go after the ball. Seems like that should be some kind of holding?

    Anyboy have any insight?

  4. Ben Austro
    January 16, 2012 at 12:35 am

    The Ravens defender gets the benefit of the doubt because Jacoby can be perceived as a ball carrier if the defender does not see the ball. Adding to the perception is that there is no whistle, so the Ravens #29 can easily assume that the play is alive. From our perspective we see the loose ball, but between #29 and the ball is Jacoby Jones.

    The same benefit of the doubt is given to a defensive back who hits a receiver who dropped a pass. If the defensive back is screened, or the receiver starts to move up field before securing the catch, the receiver can be hit without penalty (assuming that there is no other aspect of the play considered unnecessary roughness).

  5. January 19, 2012 at 12:13 am

    In this game, the replay ref asked for a review on the spot of the ball in the 4th quarter under two minutes left. I really thought this was uncalled for as most spots of balls are arbitrary to begin with. Do you all think this was a bit excessive or completely called for? I don’t question the overturn….but I do question making the call to review to begin with.
    Also, in the history of the NFL review policies has this ever happened before? Has a replay official EVER asked for a review like this before? Is there a place to see a stat like this?
    Thanks for any reply you could help here.
    Ryan Parr

    Founder/CEO Fantasy Games