Vice president of officiating Dean Blandino addressed some points on the rules from the Week 3 games (video):
- The first use of the medical timeout rule occurred in the Steelers-Rams game. Steelers defensive back Antwon Blake was determined by the independent athletic trainers to be in need of an evaluation after his head hit the turf. Since Blake didn’t withdraw, and the officials and the medical staff did not notice, the trainer notified the field before the next snap. Because the contact occurred away from the dead-ball spot, this was not readily apparent, so the trainer is to intervene as a fail-safe procedure.
- The apparent touchdown catch by Bengals wide receiver Tyler Eifert (as discussed in our Quick Calls) and the catch-fumble by Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans that were both overturned in replay to incomplete. Both involve completing the process of the catch all the way through the initial contact with the ground. Blandino sounds exasperated, and even concedes, “I know there are two sides to this debate. I get it.” He then explained that the looks-like-a-catch standard can easily be applied, but that it would lead to inconsistency.
- Blandino also explains the standard of evidence required for a replay of a potential touched punt (also in the Quick Calls), which would have created a live ball in the Bears-Seahawks game. The video was convincing, but not 100% conclusive in Blandino’s estimation, which lead to the call standing.
- Returning to the Ravens-Bengals game, Ravens punt protector Anthony Levine took the direct snap on a fake punt. Near the first down line, he fumbled the ball and recovered it in advance of the first-down line. In this case, the fourth-down-fumble rule applies that Levine is the only Ravens player that can pick up the fumble, which he did. The advance was legal, and the Ravens achieved the first down.
- The remnants of the Tuck Rule came into play on a fumble by Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Because the ball was in a downward swing of the passing motion, it is deemed Stafford began to tuck the ball to his body. Under the old rule, this would be incomplete; the current rule makes it a fumble as soon as the quarterback initiates a tuck. This was contrasted to the fumble/incomplete decision on a pass by Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton