A lofty punt by Cowboys punter Chris Jones appeared to scrape the bottom of the massive video screen hovering over the field at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. When the video board was installed in 2009, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said it would be unlikely to be hit by a punted ball. In the stadium’s first preseason game, Titans backup punter A.J. Trapasso made the unlikely happen, necessitating a quick rule change that remains in effect today.
If an official notices this happen, he is to blow the play dead immediately. Then, in a unique procedure, the down is replayed and the game clock is reset to the time of the snap. All penalties are disregarded except for personal fouls, and the clock starts on the snap of the do-over down.
But what if none of the seven officials saw it? After all, they are supposed to be watching the actions of the players and not be fixated on the ball.
This is one situation where the replay official can intervene, regardless of the time of the game (before or after the two-minute warning of either half). Either coach may also throw a challenge flag (but only before the two-minute warning), making it the only situation where both the replay official and the coaches are authorized to request a review of the same play.
The replay official did not call for a review. In cases where the replay official must make a decision to review or not review (after a score or turnover), the league has told Football Zebras that the proper mechanic is to verify that decision with the officiating vice president, Dean Blandino, at the Officiating Command Center in New York. The league declined to comment on whether this apparent videoboard doink was reviewed by Blandino, but a league source told us that it was reviewed by Blandino and determined to be inconclusive that the ball contacted the screen.
In addition to the video screen, any object suspended over the field that interfered with the play would have a similar ruling, such as a guy wire, a camera, or Jerry Jones’s massive ego.
Image: NBC Sports/NFL