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Six Super Bowl XLIX officiating observations


The Super Bowl XLIX officiating crew is back at home and recovering from a frenzied season that was capped off with a frenzied Super Bowl.   While some may disagree with a call here and there, the biggest controversy is the Seahawks’ play calling at the end of the game and not a call made by the zebras.

Here is what jumped out at me in regards to the officiating.

1.   The officials were not afraid to eject.   In the past 10 years, there have been some Super Bowl scrums that I thought deserved an ejection.   Well, Super Bowl XLIX featured the first ever ejection in the big game after a fight broke out after a Tom Brady kneel-down (video) leading to the Seahawks’ Bruce Irvin being ejected.   I think side judge Tom Hill was the official that threw Irvin out of the game.   It would have had more impact had it happened in the middle of the second quarter, but give the crew credit for doing the right thing and dishing out a consequence.

2.   Calls in the secondary evened out.   The deep officials, Bob Waggoner, Tom Hill and Terrence Miles let both teams get a little hands-y on offense and defense, but they let both sides play.   There was some mild complaining by both teams during the game but nothing egregious.   Teams want consistency and they got it in the secondary.

3.   Bill Schuster is now a model umpire in the NFL.   Over the years, the NFL has seen great umpires show hustle and presence on the field:   Lou Palazzi, Pat Harder, Art Demmas, Ron Botchan, Garth DeFelice.   Now, Bill Schuster (along with Carl Paganelli) are the umpires all amateur officials should emulate.   In Super Bowl XLIX, Schuster showed hustle, presence and sound judgement.   Well done, number 129.

4.   It should have been roughing the kicker.   Bill Vinovich should have called roughing the kicker instead of running into the kicker on the first Patriots punt in the first quarter.   The defender hit the punter’s plant leg.   While not an egregious hit the rule states that if the hit is on the plant leg, it is roughing the kicker.   Does this call allow for judgement on the referee’s part?  It is speculation on my part, but Vinovich must not have thought the hit egregious enough to warrant a personal foul (Mike Carey thought so and tweeted as such).     Nevertheless, by rule it should have been 15-yards and an automatic first down for the Patriots.

5.   Tom Hill showed great concentration on the Jermaine Kearse catch (video).   Great plays make for great calls.   Kearse had to concentrate to keep the ball alive and Hill had to concentrate for the entire play.   Any anticipation could have made for an inadvertent whistle or a blown call.   Hill stayed with the play and got it right (see photo above).

6. No replays!   Not one coach’s challenge or booth challenge.   Vinovich didn’t have to go under the hood.   There were some close calls during the evening, but nothing to warrant a second look.

The 2014 NFL season is now in the record books and culminated with a dramatic Super Bowl.   The officiating crew can be proud of their efforts.

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Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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8 thoughts on “Six Super Bowl XLIX officiating observations

  1. If the Patriots’ punter had taken a flop by staying on the ground holding his knee and then getting assistance leaving the field, he would have gotten the roughing call. So by not following the rules, Vinovich incentivized punters to flop and delay the game in the future. If the rule doesn’t allow for discretion, the ref should not apply it. That to me was the one inexcusable call in the game. Butler’s trip of Lockette could have been interpreted as feet getting accidentally tangled, which is not a penalty. That’s a hard call to make at game speed. My only other complaint with the rules is that a second Patriots’ defender was rapidly closing on Kearse when he made his circus catch. Back in the day, that defender would have pounded Kearse on the ground and prevented a catch, but with the new rules, the defender decided to jump over without making contact to avoid a roughing penalty. Guess players just need to adapt to those rules and find someway of completely the play to the whistle without drawing a penalty. I would have liked to see that catch better defended.

  2. Besides the trip…the missed H2H on Edelman…not only missed the call but allowed him to stay in the game.

  3. I aware the call should have been against the Seahawks. NBC’s angle of the replay showed H2H. That image is after the initial impact I’m pretty sure.

    None the less if you want to believe it was a shoulder to the head he was still wobbly and out of it and didn’t have to leave the field. Not saying that’s on the officials per se…just that the shot to the head was a missed call.

    AND the trip…lol.

  4. From what I recall, the missed roughing the kicker was huge. No judgment here, no “what ifs.” Stop making excuses for this guy, he flat out blew it. You lose what little credibility this site has, as most of the authors are blind to these mistakes. Plant leg hit? 15 yards. Monstrous mistake. Terrible spot in 2d quarter about a yard short would have been reversed on replay, surprised no challenge. OPI New Eng 4th quarter – receiver was basically playing defense for ten yards with an arm bar. Huge missed call. Deep judge is looking at one player only and can’t miss this as it was coming right at him. 4th quarter DPI New End defender falls and reaches up and grabs ankle of receiver – missed it. Can’t miss it if this is your key. Easy call. Late hit OOB marginal at best. Should have read, paused, and not thrown. Mut I’ll give him a marginally correct. All in all, a few major gaffes as we have come to expect by these part timers, a B minus at best.

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