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CallsHochuli has ‘the magic words’ in replay review calls

Hochuli has ‘the magic words’ in replay review calls

Week 6: Washington at Arizona (video)

A fourth quarter fumble by Washington receiver Andre Roberts was reviewed by referee Ed Hochuli. The replay official called for he review to check if Roberts’ knee was down prior to the fumble, which would have Roberts down by contact and reversing the fumble.

Hochuli announced that the ruling on the field would stand as called due to a lack of indisputable video evidence that the knee came down first. “We did not feel that there was conclusive proof that the knee was down when the ball started to come loose,” Hochuli told a pool reporter after the game. “Not when the ball is completely loose, but ‘when does the ball start to come loose’ is what keys it.”

Hochuli further stated that the announcement of “stands,” of course, means that the call on the field will be the final call, even though there was not enough evidence either way: “With ‘stands,’ whatever the ruling on the field is, it’s going to stay. Had there been a ruling on the field that he was down, we would have stayed with that, too. If not, I would have said ‘confirmed.’ That’s always the key; those are the magic words.”

Pretty much as we suspected, but we like to report any instance where a referee talks to a pool reporter.

Pool report

Q: Ed, I just wanted to bring to your attention to the start of the fourth quarter, approximately 11 minutes remaining, Andre Roberts, the Redskins wide receiver, caught a ball and was stripped as he went to the ground by Jerraud Powers. It was ruled a fumble on the field, it went to review, and it was upheld. What did you see under the hood?

Hochuli: I have to start with, as you know, unless we have conclusive evidence, we have to be able to prove it in order to change something. Otherwise, we go with “stands”; we leave the ruling on the field. So, there has to be conclusive evidence — conclusive video proof — in order to reverse it. And we did not feel that there was conclusive proof that the knee was down when the ball started to come loose. Not when the ball is completely loose, but “when does the ball start to come loose” is what keys it. And we couldn’t be sure one way or the other, and when that’s the case, that’s the definition of “stands.”

Q: OK, you went to [the Gameday Central officiating command post in] New York for the call, correct, when you guys were reviewing?

Hochuli: Well, New York is on the call. I am also talking to New York. So, I consult with New York in making that decision.

Q: And, what was their advice in the situation? What were they telling you?

Hochuli: It was a decision that I came out with. It is ultimately my decision, and consulting with New York, and we agreed that it was “stands.” New York agreed with me that we would stand.

Q: If it was ruled a catch on he field, would it have also stood?

Hochuli: You mean if it was ruled down by contact, would that have stood?

Q: Correct, yes.

Hochuli: Yes, that is the definition of “stands.” With “stands,” whatever the ruling on the field is, it’s going to stay. Had there been a ruling on the field that he was down, we would have stayed with that, too. If not, I would have said “confirmed.” That’s always the key; those are the magic words.

Q: So, basically, because there was no conclusive evidence in summary on the replay, you guys deferred to the call originally made on the field.

Hochuli: Yes, we stayed with the call on the field, because we could no conclusively prove that the knee was down before the ball started to come loose.

Ben Austro
Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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