Football Zebras
CallsLive blog: Ravens at Patriots (2011)

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.

the Football staff
Mon Sep 18 • 1:01 am EDT

Packers at Falcons

After a Falcons touchdown, Packers coach Mike McCarthy was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct foul for arguing with back judge Greg Wilson. McCarthy was on the field during the break, and vociferously arguing his case, with side judge Laird Hayes attempting an insert-and-separate maneuver. McCarthy launched some closing verbal salvo that must have crossed a line, and a visibly disgusted Wilson dropped a flag.

Under a new provision in the rule, a coach is now subject to ejection upon 2 unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in certain categories. Apparently, McCarthy is the first coach to receive a penalty under this 2-step ejection rule, and was able to avoid disqualification. No coach in the 98-year history of the NFL has been ejected.

The play McCarthy was arguing about was a flag thrown by Wilson on the previous Packers possession. An offensive pass interference flag came from Wilson — about 40 yards deep — for an infraction near the line of scrimmage. There was a question as to whether it was within the one-yard zone of legal contact — something that can be hard to detect from a deep position — and if the contact was an inadvertent collision, which is not a penalty. McCarthy does have a point, in that it would have been best for no flag at all. (He also contended that the Falcons should have been similarly flagged for offensive pass interference on the succeeding possession.) However, to chew out the official two possessions later was not only fruitless, but also put him near the wrong side of the history books.

the Football staff
Mon Sep 18 • 12:36 am EDT

Packers at Falcons (video)

On a 33-yard touchdown by Packers, receiver Devante Adams touches the pylon with his foot as he goes into the end zone. The pylon does not put a player out of bounds; he must step on the sideline to be ruled out. Contrast this to a loose ball that touches the pylon, which is ruled to be out of bounds in the end zone.

This is consistent with a player out of bounds touching another player — the in-bounds player is not suddenly out of bounds. However, if a loose ball in the field of play touches an out-of-bounds player, the ball is dead and out of bounds.

Incidentally, this is different in the NCAA rulebook; the pylon does place a player out of bounds. It would be an incomplete still be a complete pass in college, since the receiver had not gotten his second foot down yet after the catch only has to get one foot down in bounds (sorry, late-night editing). If the first foot touches the pylon, then it is incomplete.

the Football staff
Mon Sep 18 • 12:27 am EDT

Packers at Falcons

The ruling on the backward pass by Aaron Rodgers that was returned for a touchdown is a separate post.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 8:24 pm EDT

Washington at Rams (video)

Several several things to unpack in this video.

Again, hurdling is legal in the NFL. If Todd Gurley tried this Friday night, he’d get a flag.

Good sideline communication between field judge Eugene Hall and rookie line judge Mike Carr. Before going up with the touchdown signal, Hall checked to make sure Carr didn’t have Gurley step out of bounds. 

Finally, Hall shows that officials don’t have to have a whistle on every play. Everyone knew the play was over and he didn’t need to sound his whistle. He didn’t even have the whistle in his mouth.

Good work by Carr and Hall.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 8:08 pm EDT

Jets at Raiders (video)

The Raiders recover a muffed punt. The receiver gave a fair catch but then had the ball bounce off of him. Side judge Terry Brown was on the sideline and made the call. 

Sometimes an official will be quick on the whistle when a receiver signals fair catch to protect the receiver from being hit. Brown had good discipline to hold the whistle

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 7:52 pm EDT

Vikings at Steelers (video)

Dalvin Cook had a touchdown for a few moments. Side judge Boris Cheek gave Cook a touchdown, but instant replay ruled him short. Cheek would have had a hard time seeing Cook’s knee down since the Steelers’ defender was on the ground, screening Cheek from a good look.

Cheek was in proper position. That’s what replay is for.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 7:46 pm EDT

49ers at Seahawks (video)

Another own-fumble recovery by the defensive squad, this time by the Seahawks. The covering official at the fumble spot was not near the interception spot, so he still had a bean bag to mark the play.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 7:46 pm EDT

Eagles at Chiefs (video)

With seven seconds left, the Eagles try an onside kick and recover it. The ball had properly gone 10-yards, but an Eagles’ player touched the ball knocking it forward, and he then fell on it. Is this illegal batting?

In the judgement of the officials, the player didn’t bat the ball. They ruled he muffed the ball in a bona fide attempt to recover the kick. 

It’s a judgement call, but it looks like the officials got it right by ruling muff.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 7:37 pm EDT

Eagles at Chiefs (video)

Travis Kelce hurdles Eagles defenders for a touchdown. High school rules forbid hurdling for safety reasons. I’m somewhat surprised the NFL still allows hurdling.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 7:19 pm EDT

Browns at Ravens (video)

Defensive lineman Trevon Coley recovers a fumble for the Browns, and then he fumbles during the return, recovered by his fellow lineman Nate Orchard. The spot of the first fumble is marked by a beanbag, and two hats fly in to mark the second fumble. When there are multiple changes of possession on a play, it is possible for a penalty to be enforced or offset at the last change spot.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 5:24 pm EDT

Bears at Buccaneers (video)

The Buccaneers’ Mike Evans makes a nice toe-tapping catch for a TD. Side judge Scott Edwards with a good eye to award the six points.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 5:07 pm EDT

Cowboys at Broncos (photo)

Scattered thunderstorms in the area trigger a weather delay with 0:33 on the clock in the 1st quarter.

A league executive is assigned to be the on-site representative for Football Operations. That point person will communicate with the weather service and the commissioner to make a decision on when to resume play.

The game resumed after a 62-minute delay.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 4:58 pm EDT

Eagles at Chiefs (video)

Late in the third quarter, a reception by Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffrey made a catch as he was going to the ground, landing at the 1-yard line and sliding into the endzone. Jeffrey was initially ruled down at the one, but after the Eagles challenged the call it was reversed to a touchdown because Jeffrey was never touched by a defender after possessing the ball and prior to the ball crossing the goal line. 

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 3:56 pm EDT

Vikings at Steelers (video)

The Steelers are happy to have the rules relaxed for group celebrations, but they still were penalized after receiver Martavis Bryant scored a touchdown.

Bryant was seen motioning his teammates over to break out into a pantomimed game of back-alley dice. However, once the field judge drops the touchdown signal, the play clock is runs. Since the Steelers were opting for a two-point conversion, it would have been an 8 the hard way, because the delay of game foul craps on their conversion attempt, drawing snake eyes from coach Mike Tomlin, who will likely institute a new team rule.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 3:19 pm EDT

Cardinals at Colts

Both coaches have challenged calls on the first-down line, and both calls were upheld. The Colts challenged a short spot that was confirmed, and the Cardinals challenge of a first down did not have conclusive evidence to overturn. First-down spots are particularly tricky to win in replay without some other action like a player stepping out of bounds.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 2:35 pm EDT

Bills at Panthers

Side judge James Coleman collided with someone on the Bills bench while working down the sideline.

Because officials must watch the play and not where they are going, it is imperative to keep the sidelines clear. The entire width of the 6-foot border is the officials’ and chain crew’s area only. If someone encroaches into this area, an official can tell the team’s designated “get back” coach to corral everyone, and flag on subsequent violations. However, sideline interference can be called without a warning if there is contact or if the official is significantly impeded.

Coleman was taken to the locker room for evaluation, and it is possible he is in the concussion protocol that players are subjected to.

The crew has adjusted to 6-person mechanics. Basically, each crew decides how it will handle the vacancy, either leave the position open and adjacent officials would cover or shift 1 or 2 officials to new positions. In many cases, crews will opt to keep the back judge position empty. Walt Coleman’s crew has left the side judge slot open with the back judge and down judge covering. The broadcast crew stated that James Coleman won’t return to the game.

There are no alternate officials in the regular season.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 2:02 pm EDT

Patriots at Saints (video)

A flag for offensive pass interference was thrown on a New England touchdown play. Referee Craig Wrolstad picked up the flag following a conference, however, stating that the foul occurred at the line of scrimmage. This is the classic pick play. Patriots’ receiver Brandin Cooks blocked a Saints’ defender in order to free up receiver Chris Hogan. Back judge Lee Dyer threw the flag for the seemingly illegal act, but the contact took place one yard beyond the line of scrimmage Rule 8-5-4 states that “blocking more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage by an offensive player prior to a pass being thrown is offensive pass interference.” Since the contact occurred only one yard in front of the line, there is no foul. The flag was correctly picked up and New England was awarded the touchdown.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 1:35 pm EDT

Cardinals at Colts

Cardinals defensive lineman Rodney Gunter was flagged for leverage on a Colts field goal attempt. Leverage prohibits a player from gaining height from an opponent or teammate. The contact does not appear to be much, but only incidental contact (not pushing down on the player) would be waived off.

The Colts took the points off the board and got an automatic first down with the penalty, but ultimately kicked another field goal.

the Football staff
Sun Sep 17 • 12:53 pm EDT

Today’s officials

Week 2 referee assignments

2017 officiating crews


  • U64 Dan Ferrell to McAulay’s crew (PHI-KC)
  • U129 Bill Schuster to Coleman’s crew (BUF-CAR)
  • DJ37 Jim Howey to Cheffers’ crew (AZ-IND)
  • LJ68 Tom Stephan to Corrente’s crew (MIA-LAC)
  • FJ15 Rick Patterson to Boger’s crew (WAS-LAR)

(All substitutions are swing officials that are assigned to different crews each week)

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

18 thoughts on “Live blog: Ravens at Patriots (2011)

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

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

  4. “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.

  5. 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????

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. @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.

  10. 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

  11. 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!!!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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