NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino released his weekly video on Friday (download) discussing some controversial and noteworthy calls for Week 1. As we expected, illegal contact, defensive holding and instant replay were among the points discussed.
- By the Numbers Total number of fouls was down in Week 1 from Preseason with an average of 17 fouls per game total. That number translates into roughly 14 fouls per game that were accepted by teams, which is an increase from Week 1 of 2013.
- Fouls were up in the areas of points of emphasis during Week 1, but not up to the degree of preseason.
- Illegal contact. Blandino highlighted an illegal contact penalty thrown during the contest between the Chiefs and Titans. At one point in the game, the receiver is contacted beyond 5 yards downfield by the left arm of the defender. Ronald Torbert’s crew enforced the illegal contact rule because contact is not allowed beyond five yards when the quarterback is still in the pocket.
- Re-routes were the subject of debate in the Cowboys-49ers game on Sunday as well. While the quarterback is still in the pocket, a two-handed reroute on a receiver that is not incidental and designed to force the receiver out is ruled illegal contact.
- Pass interference. Blandino deemed an offensive pass interference call by Terry McAulay’s crew incorrect after the game. At one point, 49ers receiver Brandon Lloyd turned into Cowboys defender Morris Claiborne when Claiborne clearly had established his position. It is legal for Claiborne to use his hands to deflect contact that is initiated by Lloyd. However, because the defender wrapped both arms around the receiver, it should’ve been called as defensive holding. Blandino said this call was addressed with the crews.
- Horse-collar tackles. We were reminded that a horse collar call can only be made when the hand of the defender gets inside the collar pad or the player’s jersey. The Competition Committee continues to look at and discuss what constitutes a horse collar in terms of how close the hands have to get to the collar to throw the flag. We were also reminded that pulling of the hair is legal as it is considered part of the body, unless it is in the helmet or tucked into the collar pad.
- Illegal participation. During a timeout in the game between the Panthers and Buccaneers, a timeout was called when quarterback Cam Newton (who was inactive for the game) ran onto the field to discuss play calling in the huddle. During timeouts, playing rules remain in force, therefore a player cannot run onto the field unless they are an incoming substitute. Instead of penalizing the team with 15 yards, referee Pete Morelli issued a warning to both Newton and head coach Ron Rivera, which is in Morelli’s discretion whether to warn or flag. However, teams are notified that in the future this will incur a penalty.
- New replay rule. You might recall in the NFC Championship game the NaVarro Bowman recovery that was not reviewed, by rule, during the 49ers loss to the Seahawks. As you know, that rule has been changed. This new rule was put into practice Monday night during the Cardinals and Chargers game when the Cardinals fumbled the ball, and it appeared that they also recovered the ball. After a challenge from the Chargers, there was a reversal. The replay showed the Cardinals did not secure possession but that the Chargers subsequently did. It is important to note that this must be discernable on video for a reversal, and not based on who emerges from a like with the ball.