Football Zebras™

Quick calls: Week 15

week15You can follow our coverage on Twitter, and we will also post here some notable calls and describe some of the complicated rulings of the weekend.

If you see something interesting, confusing, or controversial in this week’s games, let’s us know by giving us the quarter and time (if known) and what happened in the comments section below or tweet us.

Some of the more interesting calls we will pose to the Football Zebras Roundtable for expert analysis during the week.

Sun • 10:51 pm EST • Ben Austro

Bengals at Steelers (video)

huber destroyedAnother play involving the Bengals punter. On a touchdown return, punter Kevin Huber was leveled, fracturing his jaw either when he was hit or as he hit the ground.

Punters and kickers have special protections, and are considered one of the 10 players that are defined in the rules as being in a defenseless posture (this applies from the kick through any return). With that, rule 12-2-7(b):

Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is:

(1)  Forcibly hitting the defenseless player’s head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder … .

It is a little difficult to see at game speed, but it is definitely a forceable blow with the helmet to the neck area. This should have been a 15-yard foul from the spot of the infraction, which would have erased the Steelers touchdown.

Referee Ed Hochuli has responsibility over the punter, but on a long runback, he transitions to make a call at the goal line.

Sun • 9:02 pm EST • Ben Austro

Bengals at Steelers (video)

The Bengals botched a snap, and punter Kevin Huber had the ball at the 1-yard line, and was tackled in the end zone. They ruled it was down at the 1 and not a safety, because the ball did not break the plane of the goal line at the point when forward progress is stopped.

It was challengeable if the Bengals wanted to make it a safety and kick off to the Steelers. It is not a booth review, because it is not a scoring play; loss on downs is not a turnover that allows for a replay-official-initiated challenge.

Sun • 8:30 pm EST • Ben Austro

Packers at Cowboys (video)

An apparent interception by the Packers was ruled incomplete, but it was overturned in replay. Since the clock was under two minutes, it was under the jurisdiction of the replay official, who was waiting for a replay angle to initiate a challenge. The Cowboys were cognizant of that fact, and raced to the line to snap the ball, thus freezing out any chance of reviewing the incompletion/interception.

The replay official got the call in just in time, and Fox Sports commentator Troy Aikman roasted the replay official for his “inexcusable” delay in calling for a review. In actuality, it was Aikman’s director who was not serving up the angle necessary for the replay official to call a challenge.

Is that a problem? Apparently not, in the league’s eyes. When he was vice-president of officiating, Carl Johnson said

TV networks aren’t obligated to show significant replays or any types of replays.

I think that the replay official and both teams should have all-angle access if we are going to make this a game of frames, instead of a game of inches.

Sun • 7:41 pm EST • Ben Austro

Packers at Cowboys (video)

Head linesman Jerry Bergman jumps in to break up the fracas after a Packers touchdown.

Sun • 6:58 pm EST • Ben Austro

Jets at Panthers (video)

Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn runs back a Jets interception for a touchdown. While celebrating in the end zone, he slides, and his teammates celebrate over him. As soon as Munnerlyn goes to the ground in celebration, it is an unsportsmanlike conduct/taunting foul, which is assessed on the kickoff. The only exceptions are if a player obviously falls unintentionally, or if he goes to his knees in a prayer-like pose, neither of which applied here.

Back judge Lee Dyer kept his eye on the action throughout.

Sun • 6:29 pm EST • Mark Schultz

Chiefs at Raiders (video)

The Chiefs’ Eric Berry runs back an interception for a touchdown, forcing umpire Garth DeFelice and referee Clete Blakeman to bust to the goal line and stay out of everyone’s way at the same time.

Sun • 6:12 pm EST • Ben Austro

49ers at Buccaneers (image)

49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, upset over an incomplete pass, picked up the ball and heaved it. It goes beyond the “spiking the ball” delay of game foul, and it was rightly called as unsportsmanlike conduct. However, the spot of enforcement is confusing.

Scott Green’s crew is ruling Crabtree’s action to be between downs, which means that any live-ball and dead-ball fouls associated with the down are enforced, which establishes what the next down is. Then, the between-downs fouls are enforced, which applies to the new spot. Apparently the determination of between downs was made because the Crabtree threw the ball while Green was announcing a live-ball penalty, which absolutely places the foul in between-downs time.

The live ball foul was a 5-yard defensive offside. That foul is enforced (it may also be declined, because it is being handled alone), giving the 49ers a 1st-and-5. Then, the between-downs unsportsmanlike is 15 yards from that spot, leading to a 1st-and-20.

If the crew determined that Crabtree’s actions were part of the continuing action of the previous down, it falls into a 5 vs. 15 enforcement — an unusual corner of the rulebook. Since the offsides is a “simple 5” (no loss of down, no automatic first down, no 10-second runoff; just 5 yards), the 5 yarder is picked up by rule, and the 15 yarder is enforced. In this case, the 5-yard live-ball foul goes away, and the 15-yard dead-ball foul stays. This would have resulted in a 2nd-and-25 (the incomplete pass would have counted).

I don’t have enough of the play to comment on the dead-ball vs. between-downs call, so I will update if I see more.

h/t GIFD Sports

Sun • 4:53 pm EST • Mark Schultz

Saints at Rams

5:26 | 1st qtr.  Rams’ quarterback Kellen Clemens slides after a scramble to “give himself up.”  Two Saints defenders land on Clemons drawing a personal foul.  Once a quarterback slides feet-first, he cannot be hit.  It was a tight call, but by the letter of the rule it was there.

Sun • 4:45 pm EST • Mark Schultz

Redskins at Falcons (video)

Gene Steratore’s crew has to rule on three fumbles during three consecutive plays. 

Sun • 4:33 pm EST • Mark Schultz

Texans at Colts (video)

Jerome Boger holds the whistle and lets the play finish as the Colts strip Texans’ quarterback Case Keenum at the goal line.  The Texans scramble to fall on the ball in the end zone for a safety.

Sun • 4:28 pm EST • Mark Schultz

Bills at Jaguars (video)

Denard Robinson of the Jaguars is running for a touchdown, when he is stripped of the ball short of the goal line.  The ball rolls out the end of the end zone for a touchback.  Deep officials Tom Hill, Greg Steed and Scott Steenson make the call.

Sun • 4:23 pm EST • Mark Schultz

Seahawks at Giants (video)

Head linesman John McGrath nails this Luke Willson toe tap on the sideline.

Sun • 4:17 pm EST • Mark Schultz

Cold weather gear has come a long way to help officials stay warm and safe during the game.

Sun • 2:01 pm EST • Ben Austro

Washington at Atlanta (video)

Falcons running back Steven Jackson bowls over Washington cornerback Josh Wilson en route to a 3-yard touchdown. Jackson lowered his head, but initiated contact with his shoulder, instead of an illegal crown-of-the-helmet hit. It would be a borderline call if Jackson lead with the crown, because he is going for the goal line, and that would cast doubt on the “squaring up the opponent” aspect of the crown rule. The run is slightly outside of the tackle box, even though it is within three yards of the line of scrimmage. However, the tackle box is not an obvious demarcated line during live action, so it could also be close enough to get a non-call in this hypothetical situation.

Sun • 12:46 pm EST • Ben Austro

Saints at Rams

Mike Carey’s crew is in St. Louis. Scheduled to join the crew for the first time in over a month is umpire Chad Brown, who has been out with an unspecified injury.

Sun • 12:45 pm EST • Football Zebras staff

Today’s officiating assignments

12 comments for “Quick calls: Week 15

  1. Tony
    December 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Illegal kick by R 15 on Redskins onside kick at end of game not called. No focus by crew and clearly missed it. Very poor.

  2. Howie
    December 15, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    In the Green Bay vs Dallas game at the end, why did Green Bay have to call a time out to get the replay official to review the play? It seems that the replay official is on the take. He wasn’t going to review the final Dallas interception. The clock was stopped so why didn’t he review? I don’t think that replay official should be permitted to do anymore Dallas games.

  3. PT
    December 15, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Bengals’ punter is out with what was reported as a jaw fracture gif of hit.

    Aren’t punters considered defenseless during and after a kick? (12-2-7a-6) “Players in a defenseless posture are…(6) A kicker/punter during the kick or during the return”

  4. Tony
    December 15, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Hey, what’s the deal on the new rule on peel back blocks? Nick Foles got called for an illegal peel back block, negating a TD today in Eagles-Vikings game. GIF here:

  5. Matthew
    December 16, 2013 at 1:29 am

    It is unreal to me the actions of the officials in response to the last Williams interception. The nearest official emphatically motioned incorrectly that it was an incomplete pass and not one of the other officials seemed remotely interested in correcting the call on the field. It is inexcusable that McCarthy had to call a time-out to force the reply booth to take action and do their job. Equally as troubling is the amount of time it took to reverse the call on the field since it was clearly an interception. It was as if the officials were looking for ANY possible justification to validate the incorrect call on the field. In the end, the official who had to announce that the call was reversed did so with such deep despair that you have to wonder what “arrangement” from Jerry Jones was just utterly lost.

  6. December 16, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    The Steelers getting away with a personal foul on a return? What a shocker.

    And Matthew, I can sum up all that happened in the 4th quarter of the Packers/Cowboys game with this: Walt “Tuck Rule” Coleman.

  7. Observer2
    December 16, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Wow….bad officiating among the deep officials tonight. Missed an illegal block in the back against Detroit on a punt return. Snap at the 13:35 of 3rd Qtr. Foul occurs exactly at the 30 yard line mark right on the number 30 itself. Detroit player pushed the Balt. player (#41)with arms extended clearly in the back sending #41 right past the ball carrier. At the end of the play (13:23-13:22 on game clock) you see #41 turning around looking for a flag.
    2. Good call for hit to head by BJ on incomplete pass in 2nd Qtr., but where was the DPI from the FJ (he’s always weak).
    3. Blatantly missed arm bar/grab DPI at the 1:57 mark of the 3rd Qtr.(nice montage on bad DPI no-calls of regular, not REPLACEMENT, officials who got a nice, new FAT contract).

  8. Observer2
    December 16, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    Boy, the Umpire and Field judge in this game do not move very well at all. Three times I have seen FJ get run up on by receivers, and a few other times when he’s on the field of play signaling complete.

  9. Observer2
    December 16, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Well, The obviously missed DPI seems big, doesn’t it? Good thing no replacements were on the game, or else we might be listening to the commentary for another 20 minutes about it.

  10. bertS
    December 17, 2013 at 10:00 am

    What about the great Ed Hochuli’s missed call on the hit that put the Bengals punter out of commission for lord who knows how long? What the heck was he looking at? In fact,wtf was the U looking at? I don’t want to hear the excuse the R was transitioning to the GL this illegal hit happened right at the point of attack and you can see the R and the U looking right at it (or they should have been where else should they have been looking???). Ridiculous miss of huge illegal hit, by two officials looking right at it. Missed IBB last nite’s game in Detroit? Missed illegal kick (R blatantly kicks ball away from certain K recovery) in Falcons game onside kick situation at end of game when the focus had better be intense for any situation? It can go on and on and on every single week, Also notice when they F up they no longer say that “The call is reversed?” They just announce “Receiver had both hands under the ball blah blah blah and the result of the play is a catch” What’s up with that? Announce the call was reversed! LMAO we have “confirmed” or “stands” but the word “reversal” is out of the language now. What about all the big bellies we see every week on TV? I thought these guys had to pass a physical which included some very intense running and display of movement and if you couldn’t cut it you were out? Oh, wait – that was just a requirement for the guys who helped out at the beginning of last year’s season. The officiating this season, ever since the contract was signed, has been horrendous. No accountability on being overweight. I mean, the guts are disgusting on 1/3 of these officials. These guys would be getting the annual “fat letter” that officials in college ball get at the end of the year. The officiating has been an embarrassment this year, the worse ever seen and that includes the replacement time. Yet the media remains silent. What a joke.

  11. December 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    You are a fucking pussy. The Redskins are the Redskins. Call them by name.