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.

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.

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.