You 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.
Bengals at Steelers (video)
Another 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.
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.
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.
Packers at Cowboys (video)
Head linesman Jerry Bergman jumps in to break up the fracas after a Packers touchdown.
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.
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.
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
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.
Redskins at Falcons (video)
Gene Steratore’s crew has to rule on three fumbles during three consecutive plays.
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.
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.
Seahawks at Giants (video)
Head linesman John McGrath nails this Luke Willson toe tap on the sideline.
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.
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.