Football Zebras™

Quick calls: Week 6

We will update this post with some of the calls we see in today’s games. Did you see something or have a question on a rules interpretation? Use the comment section of this post or tweet us @footballzebras.

The big news today is that Bill Vinovich returns to the field as referee for the first time since 2006. You can see the remaining assignments here.

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.

14 comments for “Quick calls: Week 6

  1. Don Nored
    October 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Cowboys Vs Ravens….4th quarter, 24-20 Ravens. Cowboys ball 3rd and goal on the 8 yd line. Pass play….nobody open …Romo sacked and Cowboys kick a field goal. Fox replayed the play to show why Romo had to take the sack. The replay showed Dez Bryant going into the end zone where he was pushed out of bounds by the defender. The Ref was standing right there and thru his hat approx 1 yd line deep in the end zone to indicate where Bryant went out. When describing the play the commentator even stated Bryant was pushed out of bounds. My question: why was that not called “illegal contact” since Bryant was at least 9 yards down field from the line of scrimmage. Could have made a huge difference since Dallas would have had 1st and goal at the 3 or 4 yd line. Not making excuses for the Cowboys….they caused their own down-fall by repeatedly making crucial mistakes.

  2. Mark Schultz
    October 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Was Romo in the pocket? Once the QB is flushed out of the pocket the illegal contact rule is off.

  3. Don Nored
    October 14, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    He was in the pocket sacked almost directly behind the center approx 5-7 yards deep.

  4. Ben Austro
    October 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I’m sure this game will be replayed this week on NFL Rewind. Hopefully, they leave that part intact. I would like to watch for an evenhanded amount of hand wrangling between both players. Except for very odd occurrences, DPI and OPI are never called as offsetting fouls, so if both are pushing, there is no call.

  5. Mark
    October 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Did the refs blow 2 turnover calls in Miami today? Boh te plays seem to confirm fumbles but the refs overturned them anyway.

  6. Ben Austro
    October 14, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Didn’t see those calls. But, since the replay official has exclusive domain on challenges, there must have been something.

  7. Joe
    October 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Anyone catch the phantom holding call in the Dolphins-Rams game? It was a weird scenario… It was in the middle of the multiple hands-to-the-face penalties. Steratore was announcing the penalty when Jake Long appeared to walk up to argue him point. Steratore interupted himself mid-announcement to say “Stay back!”

    On the next play, he flagged Long for Holding, although there was none – even the announcers didn’t know what he was talking about. Could it have been a vendetta/revenge call?

  8. Tom
    October 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Seahawks v Patriots: the Intentional Grounding call that ended the first half was incorrect,
    I believe. The Pats QB threw the ball away to save the last few seconds, not to avoid a loss, thus no Intentional Grounding should have been called. What he did was no different than a spike play – thoughts?

  9. Ben Austro
    October 15, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I didn’t see the intentional grounding, but in order to be equivalent to a legal “spike” to stop the clock, the pass must come immediately after the snap. This happened to the Bears last season, where QB Caleb Hanie delayed when received the snap, and then threw the ball to the turf to stop the clock. Not only was there a penalty, but a 10-second runoff.

    Our coverage of that call:

    From the comments here, it seems as though I should’ve been watching Rams-Dolphins, but who would have thought that?

  10. Ben Austro
    October 16, 2012 at 1:34 am

    OK, I saw the video on the grounding call, and it is absolutely correct. There is now an entry in the post with a video clip

  11. Tom
    October 16, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Pats v Hawks: Watch the video – the reason there is no receiver in that area is that Deion Branch, who is making the in cut to the middle of the field, is blatantly held by LB KJ Wright,
    you can clearly see the “arm bar” across Branch’s chest as he cuts inside and thus never gets into the area.

  12. Tom
    October 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm
  13. Ben
    October 17, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I don’t see any hold there. It looked like both players ran into each other, and there could have been a moment of restriction by the Seahawks defender. However, the ball was being thrown 3 yards beyond the end line, and this contact was at the 1-yard line, some 14 yards away. So any holding would have no material affect on the play.

    From the looks of it (using the grainy video) the Seahawks linebacker seemed to step into the receiver’s route and grabbed him in the collision. Routes get interrupted like this all the time, and while still frames look like damning evidence, the video must take in the action prior to and immediately after the image.

  14. silver account
    October 27, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    The quarterback spiking the ball does not result in intentional grounding if once he receives the ball from center, he take one step back and spikes the ball. If the quarterback spikes the ball after attempting to run or drop back to pass, the result of the play is intentional grounding. This results in a 15-yard penalty on the offense and a loss of down. In addition, there will be a 10-second runoff of the game clock if the penalty occurs inside of one minute remaining in the game.