Football Zebras
CallsQuick calls: Week 6

Quick calls: Week 6

week6You can follow our coverage on Twitter, but we will post some of the more notable calls from the weekend here in our liveblog.

Did you see something in Sunday’s games that you thought was not called correctly? Did you want to give props to an official who made a great call? (I know, this isn’t likely, even though it happens all the time.) Let’s us know by giving us the quarter and time (if known) and what happened in the comments section below or tweet us.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 16 • 11:59 pm EDT

Squawking gesture earns a 15


Chargers cornerback Desmond King made a gesture to Bills receiver Zay Jones as he left the field, which was later described as mocking his talking to the official about a perceived foul. This drew an easy 15-yard taunting foul as the Chargers stopped the Bills on third down. Additionally, it put King one step towards an automatic ejection for 2 similar unsportsmanlike fouls.

While described by some as a “ticky-tack” call, in reality there cannot be one for taunting. To excuse this invites a proportionate response at minimum. Before long, games spiral out of control of the officials, and it becomes difficult to equitably assess the over-the-line call when some have been allowed to pass.

King claims that it was all in good fun, as he and Jones know each other. Of course, officials cannot gauge that, and must take the gesture pointed at an opponent at face value.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 16 • 9:46 pm EDT

Good teamwork on long TD


Down judge Kevin Codey and side judge Eugene Hall work well on this long Dede Westbrook touchdown catch and run.

Codey is responsible to make sure Westbrook stays in-bounds all the way to the goal line. Hall’s job is to defend the goal line. Hall judges of the ball broke the plane and Codey rules in or out of bounds. 

As Codey was watching the sideline, Hall was looking at the blocking while making a break to the goal line.

Good work by the sideline tandem.

Rich Madrid
Sun Sep 16 • 7:22 pm EDT

Ejection for unnecessary roughness


LeGarrette Blount was ejected from today’s Lions-49ers game for coming off the bench and shoving 49ers linebacker Elijah Lee after Lee hit Lions quarterback Matt Stafford as he was running out of bounds. Stafford was still in bounds so there was no penalty for a hit on the quarterback out of bounds. 

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 16 • 6:57 pm EDT

Good goal line mechanics


Nice job by line judge Greg Bradley to break for the goal line at the snap inside the five yard line. 

It is important for the wing official to be stationary at the goal line when the ball gets there.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 16 • 6:24 pm EDT

Rare face mask penalty on the ball carrier


D.J. Reed of the 49ers returns the opening kickoff of the third quarter for a touchdown, but is called for a personal foul face mask penalty. Reed stiff-armed the defender…but never let go. The defender fell and Reed actually dragged the defender by his face mask.

First-year referee Shawn Hochuli on the call.

Incidentally, Reed’s return is one of the longest non-scoring plays in the NFL.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 16 • 5:11 pm EDT

2 illegal forward passes in the same game


Titans quarterback Blaine Gabbert tried to channel his sidelined teammate Marcus Mariotta. In last year’s wild card game, Mariotta caught his own deflected pass and scored a touchdown. Gabbert caught his pass, but found himself 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He then attempted a second forward pass, which is nothing but illegal, but was actually somewhat fortuitous.

A second pass behind the line is 5 yards from the previous spot, and repeat the down. Presumably, the rule is accounting for a confusing play and not a tactical advantage, therefore a lighter sentence for the double pass. An illegal pass beyond the line is a spot foul and loss of down, because the offense gets credit for the play up to the illegal throw, which is a sensible assessment under the circumstances. In this case, the Texans can accept the foul for a 1st-and-15 or decline for a 2nd-and-10.

I would expect this rule to be changed in the offseason.


With 17 seconds remaining in the game, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson consumed the entire amount of time on one play, completing to DeAndre Hopkins for 31 yards. On the play, Watson crossed the line of scrimmage, returned to the line and threw the ball. This is an illegal forward pass.

Once the ball crosses the line of scrimmage, there cannot be a legal forward pass for the remainder of the down, even if the ball goes back behind the line. In this case, the ball is deemed to have crossed the line if the ball carrier has his entire body beyond the line. No flag was thrown, and I can understand holding the flag on the final play when it doesn’t change the result, even though I don’t support that. Although it is reviewable, replay will not initiate a review if there are only fantasy implications.

Had there been time, this would be penalized the same as Gabbert’s pass: 5 yards from the previous spot and repeat the down. This would not be a 10-second runoff.

Patrick Weber
Sun Sep 16 • 4:25 pm EDT

Roughing the passer negates INT in Green Bay

Late in the fourth quarter Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews was hit with a roughing the passer penalty to extend the Vikings game-tying drive. (See separate post.)

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 16 • 3:57 pm EDT

Browns score touchdown at the pylon


On a Browns pass to the end zone, line judge Mark Steinkerchner throws a flag on cornerback Patrick Robinson. Looking downfield, Steinkerchner had the view on the arm bar that caused running back Duke Johnson to lose his balance.

On the 3rd-and-goal play, Steinkerchner makes the call at the pylon as Carlos Hyde gets the ball across the plane of the goal for a Browns touchdown before losing possession. On the snap, you can see the officiating mechanics of this type of play, as Steinkerchner breaks for the goal line on the snap, signals backward pass, and is in place for the touchdown call.

Patrick Weber
Sun Sep 16 • 3:42 pm EDT

Packers try to call timeout when they have none

Late in the first half and following a play that ended in bounds, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers tried to call timeout even though the Packers had none remaining. Referee Tony Corrente ignored the request and play continued without interruption. It is only a foul for an extra timeout if the officials stop the clock to administer the timeout, in which case it is a five yard delay of game penalty. Officials are instructed to ignore the request if they are aware that the team is out of timeouts, so Corrente handled this situation correctly.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 16 • 3:23 pm EDT

You make the call on Bills punt recovery


On a Chargers punt, returner Marcus Murphy muffs the catch at the 5, which is then recovered by teammate Taiwan Jones in the end zone. Jones loses his helmet in the end zone and is tackled without his helmet there.

You make the call. How is this ruled?

As soon as Murphy touches the ball, either team may recover when it becomes loose. Because Murphy does not catch the ball — punt catches have the same process as a pass — he is not charged with possession. It is correctly ruled a muffed punt rather than a fumble. This distinction is key, because on all kicking plays, the following applies: “a kick is a kick until it is possessed.”

When the ball is loose in the end zone, it is still nominally a kick. That means that, by rules standards, the kick is the impetus that put the ball in the end zone. Therefore, a dead-ball is in the end zone treated as a touchback, not a safety, since the Chargers provided the impetus to put it in the end zone. (There are exceptions if a Bills foul occurs in the end zone after possession.)

When Jones recovers the ball, it is a declared dead ball in the end zone as soon as he loses his helmet and a touchback. If the play is a fumbled ball and not a muffed punt, this would be a safety.

Uchenna Nwosu on the Chargers punting team is charged with unnecessary roughness as well. Any ball carrier, regardless of whether he is still running around, cannot be hit when he loses his helmet, because the ball is clearly dead. This applies even if there is no whistle.

After the foul is assessed, the Bills have the ball 1st-and-10 at the 35.

Cameron Filipe
Sun Sep 16 • 2:45 pm EDT

No illegal forward pass on Steelers TD


As the first half came to a close in Pittsburgh, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed a touchdown pass to James Washington to lessen their deficit against Kansas City. Roethlisberger came very close to crossing the line of scrimmage on the pass, but no flag was thrown, and there was no stoppage to review the touchdown. Although part of Roethlisberger’s body may have crossed the line of scrimmage, the ball was released prior to breaking the plane of the line of scrimmage, so it is a legal pass. Any part of the quarterback’s body can be on or behind the line of scrimmage when the ball is released to constitute a legal pass.

Rich Madrid
Sun Sep 16 • 2:37 pm EDT

Roughing the passer

Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks was flagged for roughing the passer as he drove quarterback Aaron Rodgers into the ground immediately after Rodgers threw a pass. This is a point of emphasis this season with officials watching closely to see if players use all or part of their body weight to land on a quarterback during a hit. Officials will emphasize that defenders are responsible for avoiding these types of hits. This is a point emphasis after a hit by Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr in Minnesota last season that injured Rodgers with a broken collarbone. 

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 16 • 2:24 pm EDT

Helmet-to-helmet ejection

Falcons safety Damontae Kazee was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cam Newton (see separate post)


Ben Austro
Sun Sep 16 • 1:23 pm EDT

Kemp’s regular season debut

Referee Alex Kemp has his regular season debut in the Eagles-Buccaneers game. Kemp’s crew was off last week. Kemp is one of four new officials promoted to the referee position this year. 

Kemp is the son of the late Stan Kemp, who was also an NFL referee.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 9 • 12:43 pm EDT

Today’s officials

Week 2 referee assignments

2018 officiating crews


  • LJ90 Mike Spanier (swing official) to Vinovich’s crew as DJ (CAR-ATL)
  • DJ16 Kevin Codey and DJ94 Hugo Cruz swapped crews, and are on Cheffers’ (NE-JAX) and Hussey’s (OAK-DEN) crews, respectively
  • SJ1 Scott Novak to Corrente’s crew (MIN-GB)
  • FJ116 Mike Weatherford (swing official) to Allen’s crew as SJ (MIA-NYJ)

18 thoughts on “Quick calls: Week 6

  1. I see the pink flags are gone – one too many towels confused for flags?

    What’s up with Carey’s uniform? He’s been wearing the “old font” shirt, this week I’m sure the numbers are on with black tape.

  2. Packers at Ravens, Gene Steratore did a good job of explaining the injury timeout and after the play penalty against Green Bay inside 2 minutes. On the subsequent Ravens possession Flacco was sacked, lost the ball and Green Bay recovered and advanced. Why were 2 seconds put back on the clock allowing Green Bay another FG attempt when the runner was tackled in bounds? Shouldn’t the clock have continued to run and the half expired?

  3. Not sure why 2 seconds were put back on the clock, but obviously the line judge determined that the clock ran after the ball was dead. The clock stops on changes of possession.

  4. In the 4th quarter of the Saints-Patriots matchup, the Saints had a 2nd & 6. They showed jimmy graham being led to the locker room and stated that New England called a timeout. After the commercial break the timeout counter jumped from 1 to 2 during the play with no explanation. Where did the extra timeout come from as it was obviously the difference maker in the game.

  5. Ravens-Packers, ~0:25 left in the 2nd quarter. Pack has no time outs left. Running play ends with the runner (a Packer) injured and the clock stops for the injury. During the injury timeout, a different Packer commits a personal foul. The ruling is that the Pack is charged with its fourth timeout; although a runoff should occur after such an injury and then the clock should start to roll, because there was a deadball foul that stopped the clock, it would not be runoff and would remain stopped. Was this the right call? It seems odd that a team can save the 10sec injury extra timeout in the half runoff and the subsequent clock rolling by deliberately committing a foul.

  6. What about the false start call on Jahri Evans with 3 NE defenders in the neutral zone, the no timeout/delay of game no call with Brees clearly signaling timeout with the play clock at zero & the no call on the near choke slam of Junior Galette. The refs blew too many calls in this game which all went NE’s way.

  7. Disclosure: I am a Browns fan. Problem: Two (2) interference calls on Joe Haden and the roughing call on Quentin Groves were wrong and should be addressed with this crew. The flags should not have been thrown and once they were, the other members of the crew should have questioned them.

  8. MNF, that chargers pass in the second quarter that looked like it might be a catch and fumble but was ruled incomplete — isn’t tucking the football away to protect it a football move? He wasn’t going to the ground, he landed with both feet with control of the ball, and after tucking it closer to his body to try to protect it, it was ripped out.

    I know if it had been challenged, they’d have let it “stand” because it was ruled incomplete on the field, but unless I’m missing some really immediately obvious thing that put it cleanly in the “incomplete” column, I really thought the right move there would have been to rule a fumble on the field, to trigger an automatic review. I thought it was at least close enough to merit a closer look.

  9. Thanks for clearing up that MNF incomplete situation, I knew I must have been missing something!

    I’m interested to see how you break down that SNF non-muffed punt ruling. The Dallas player looks like he’s waiting to block a Redskins gunner who’s just out of bounds, and he engages the gunner in a block just as he comes back in bounds. The ball hits the Dallas player somewhere in that transition from waiting to engaging, so I’m guessing the question would be where exactly the player starts being considered “engaged” rather than “passive”.

    I feel like the rule is meant to prevent receiving teams from just shoving opposing players into the ball for a cheap turnover, and in that spirit, I’d argue that the Dallas player wasn’t just minding his own business when he was unexpectedly pushed into the ball. But it’s probably the letter and not the spirit of the rule that matters, and I’m really curious to know where “engaging” begins in this case.

  10. Steelers vs. Jets. End of 1st half. Polamalu crushes Stephen Hill near the sideline who after replay is ruled down in bounds and a completed catch. So if he is ruled down “IN BOUNDS”, then why is the clock not running as soon as the ball is spotted and the refs blow the whistle to resume play? Instead, the kicker gets his time to square up and kick the field goal. Like the Jets got an extra timeout there…

  11. Because Hill landed out of bounds, which killed the clock. The official made the signal out of frame. Hill wasn’t moved backwards, so there wasn’t forward progress ruling that would have kept the clock running.

    Had Hill landed in bounds, and he is hurt on the play, the quarter would have ended on a 10-second runoff (4th timeout due to injury on the offense with a running clock). Another alternate scenario: If he landed in bounds with the “4th timeout” at 16 seconds, the Jets would have had 6 seconds remaining, but the clock would start on the ready-for-play.

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