Football Zebras™

Live blog: Ravens at Patriots (2011)

AFC Championship

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

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

Today’s crew is headed by Alberto Riveron. His crew contains members from other officiating squads that were rating in the top three this season. The full crew list is at the bottom of this post.

Sun • 6:20 pm EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 http://www.nfl.com/videos/auto/09000d5d82637b03/Smith-leaps-for-six

Sun • 4:53 pm EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

A freeze frame of the aforementioned non-catch:

Sun • 4:27 pm EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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 EST • the Football Zebras.com staff

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.

Today’s crew, listed with the referee they worked under in the regular season:

  • R — #57 Alberto Riveron (8th year, 4th as referee)
  • U — #115 Tony Michalek (10th year, Ron Winter)
  • HL — #79 Kent Payne (8th year, Carl Cheffers)
  • LJ — #47 Tim Podraza (4th year, Mike Carey)
  • FJ — #33 Steve Zimmer (15th year, Riveron)
  • SJ — #97 Tom Hill (13th year, Winter)
  • BJ — #61 Keith Ferguson (12th year, Leavy
  • Alternates — Walt Anderson (#66, R), Terry Brown (#43, FJ from Terry McAulay’s crew)

18 comments for “Live blog: Ravens at Patriots (2011)

  1. JennaJJ
    January 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    The non-intentional grounding call… The ball did not reach the line of scrimmage, not by any view on my box

  2. dilly
    January 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Jenna, I rewound my dvr, and watched the play again. You should do the same if you can. The ball bounced right on the blue line. While the line is not official, it does look like it’s lined up with the down marker and the line judge or head linesman (I couldn’t tell which it was).

  3. Ross
    January 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    4:45 p.m. “worth a challenge by the Ravens”? you mean challenge by NE? or else I’m confused

  4. dilly
    January 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Ross, yeah, that was a typo. He meant New England.

  5. Hoser
    January 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Why was PI not called on the play before the field goal? Sure looked like the db had a hold of the recivers jersey

  6. Zach
    January 22, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    “The ball was knocked out by Sterling Moore just prior to Evans’ second foot came down.” And then, “A still frame of the foot being down doesn’t finish that catch immediately.”

    That’s moving the goal posts a bit, isn’t it? I don’t think it would’ve been overturned but was amazed it wasn’t reviewed.

    “Why was PI not called on the play before the field goal?”

    There was all sorts of holding/contact-past-5-yards on that play as well as that, but teams always get away with murder at the end of the game. I’m a Ravens fan and I’m not surprised or disappointed by that… we’ve won games with rough defense on last-second throws just as often as we’ve lost them.

  7. eepobee
    January 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    i’ve replayed that lee evans play several times and i have to say i think it was a catch. he had both feet down and held it for at least a second afterwards. ravens definitely got stiffed on that! not even a review????

  8. dilly
    January 22, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I just reviewed the Lee Evans catch again, and it certainly was not one. The ball was knocked out just prior to his second foot’s heel coming down. It was most definitely not at least a second between securing the ball with both feet down, and getting it knocked out.

    You could make the argument that it was close enough to have been reviewed, but as it was inside of two minutes and the booth did not call for one, it means they did not see enough question to even review it.

    Ben explained it well in his post. Besides just having two feet down, the receiver also needs to “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.”

    As for the following play, NE FS Sterling Moore did grab the jersey or BAL TE Dennis Pitta, but this did not alter Pitta’s route, nor prevent him from attempting the catch. Had Moore tugged on the jersey and changed Pitta’s direction, rather than just having some of it in his grasp, it would’ve been an easy call. If officials threw a flag every time this exact play happened, so many pass plays would be penalized that we’d all be asking the officials to lay off and let them play.

  9. Ben Austro
    January 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    You are never, ever going to get a pass interference on that kind of play unless you absolutely maul someone. Especially in a conference championship game.

  10. Hoser
    January 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I generally like it when they keep the flag in their pocket but there has to be some consistency. If it is a foul in the first minute, it’s a foul in the last minute. I’ve seen plenty of phantom PI calls too. This one clearly could have gone either way. And what is up with CBS not even mentioning it or showing a replay?

  11. Ben Austro
    January 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    @Zach … some variation here as we have two people typing and we are not in the same room. I was already responding to the argument that he might have held the ball for an infinitesimal amount of time after the second foot, and I was trying to head that argument off at the pass.

    I didn’t see if it was or not, but I was covering it as a moot point, while dilly was saying the ball wasn’t there at all prior to the second foot.

  12. truth time
    January 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    had both feet down. touchdown. F*CK this stupid game.

  13. dilly
    January 23, 2012 at 12:37 am

    NFL confirms that there was no need for a review of the Lee Evans non-catch on the final drive.

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82638ef3/article/nfl-explains-why-flaccos-pass-to-evans-was-ruled-incomplete?module=HP11_headline_stack

  14. Tom
    January 23, 2012 at 1:12 am

    3rd Qtr | 3:48. Pats game on the Ravens TD why was there no face mask call – he grabbed the face mask about the 9 yd line and never let go

  15. gcpike
    January 23, 2012 at 2:41 am

    as soon as i saw the play i knew they got it wrong i ran the play over 50 times both feet were down and he had the ball for 2.3 seconds with full cvontrol im a patriots fan but; hey….. lets get it right the ravens had the score!!!

  16. Ben Austro
    January 23, 2012 at 3:03 am

    It is legal for a ball carrier to stiff arm an opponent in the facemask, but they cannot twist or pull it. For a few steps, he has a stiff arm, but it looks like his hand gets tangled in the facemask, and there is some twisting to get the hand back.

    This call in this specific situation will be missed 100% of the time, and it is because of proper officiating mechanics. Because the ball carrier is headed for the end zone and he is running along the sideline, no official can focus on the facemask. The head linesman is watching the feet. The side judge is staring down the goal line. The back judge, likely in the center-back of the end zone, probably sees the stiff arm, and won’t see twisting and pulling from that distance, unless there is a violent movement of the defender’s head. The field judge is stationed on the other side of the field, and is likely watching the goal line and possession of the ball. The line judge is opposite the head linesman, but he is clear across the field, and cannot make that call from that distance.The referee and umpire are still back in the vicinity of the line of scrimmage, and won’t be able to see the defender’s facemask.

    The touchdown and the sideline become priority in this situation. Whether or not it is a facemask (it’s still borderline to me) would never be called in that play. And facemask fouls cannot be called on a replay review, even though the touchdown was under review.

  17. Tom
    January 23, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Few steps – he grabs the mask (look at replay again) between 8-9 yd line and doesn’t let it go
    until he hits ground at goal line – hoe can that not be a penalty?. If the object of replay is to insure that the correct call is made, then personal fouls should be able to be assessed on replay – in this case the correct call isn’t in or out of bounds, nor is it td or not td – the correct call is personal foul on the receiver.

  18. Ben Austro
    January 23, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I agree there is a grab there. If the play is at the 50-yard line in the middle of the field, does that get called? More likely. It’s not a slam dunk, though, because (1) the official still has to see it and (2) the ball carrier is given a lot of leeway to stiff-arm to the facemask, as long as there is no yanking or twisting of the grille.

    The object of replay is more accurately characterized as “confirming the call on the field.” That philosophy is important, because it helps set the framework for the rules of what is and is not reviewable.

    Only one penalty can be called in replay, and that is 12 men on the field. In isolated other circumstances, there can be a penalty, but it is only because it relates to the boundary and end zone line, which are reviewable criteria. Even if Riveron felt there was a facemask, he cannot even comment on it, because it is not reviewable.