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CallsQuick calls: Week 13

Quick calls: Week 13

Keep checking here for rolling coverage throughout the day on Sunday. If you see anything confusing, unusual, or controversial, please let us know.

Ben Austro Ben Austro December 7, 20151:58 am

Panthers at Saints (video)

Saints running back Mark Ingram Jr. scored a 9-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and drilled the ball into the back wall over the head of a photographer. While television was away from the live action, a flag was thrown on Ingram for nonspecific unsportsmanlike conduct. The question is if the action was considered dangerous, and if that warranted a flag.

It is not clear if there was a subsequent action that was being called out by the crew. Announcer Joe Buck did not mention anything immediately, so the span of time between planting the ball into the wall and acknowledging the flag on air causes me to lean to some other unseen action. Ingram was asked after the game what the penalty was for, and he replied he did not know.

Ben Austro Ben Austro December 7, 201512:47 am

Jets at Giants

Certainly one of the strangest targets of a foul I have seen. Jets offensive guard Willie Colon was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. But wait, Colon is on injured reserve!

Colon was in the Jets bench area and exchanged words with Giants safety Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at the end of the play. Side judge Allen Baynes separated the two, and Colon said something as they separated. It apparently was directed at Rodgers-Cromartie, because the bench foul was announced as unsportsmanlike conduct without specifying an offense against an official.

Because Colon is permitted in the bench area, the Jets bench is assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct foul. A team bench cannot be assessed a foul for the conduct of fans or sideline personnel outside of the bench area.

Since the act was against an opponent in the continuing action of the previous down, it is a dead-ball foul. The down counts, and then the infraction is assessed, 1st-and-10. If it was a foul against the official, it would be considered a “between-downs” foul. (All fouls against officials are handled this way, even if they occur during the play.) In that case, the down counts, any other penalties are handled first, and then the next down is established. Then the distance is applied to the next down, so a 1st-and-10 becomes 1st-and-25. This is another clue that it was not a foul against an official, since this was assessed as a dead-ball foul, and not as a between-downs foul.

Ben Austro Ben Austro December 6, 201510:43 pm

Jets at Giants (video)

Replay reviewed whether Jets running back Bilal Powell stepped out of bounds during a 16-yard run. It looked like Powell might have stepped out, but it is unclear if Powell kept his heel off the chalk, and thus remaining in bounds. With that little bit of uncertainty, the replay review will let the call on the field stand.

Ben Austro Ben Austro December 6, 201510:35 pm

Eagles at Patriots (video via Vine)

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was seen being “hands on” during a discussion with line judge Sarah Thomas. As seen in the video, Belichick was demonstrating a particular play he was apparently objecting to, which looks like it could be related to the rule on horse-collar tackles.

While the pictures being filtered around the Internet show a rather comical presentation of events, this is much ado about nothing. Belichick is not being patronizing; he is very clearly expressing what he saw on the play. He wasn’t making “unnecessary physical contact with an official,” nor did he “shove, push, or strike [her] in an offensive, disrespectful, or unsportsmanlike manner,” which is the extent of the rule on the matter.

h/t Melissa Jacobs

Ben Austro Ben Austro December 6, 201510:13 pm

Panthers at Saints (video)

On a touchdown pass to Panthers receiver Ted Ginn Jr., quarterback Cam Newton tries to get the ball from field judge Doug Rosenbaum tossed the ball to the ball attendant. Newton then got the touchdown ball and gave it to a Panthers fan in the front row. Rosenbaum really has to get things moving to the extra-point try at that point and not prolong the celebration. In addition, it’s preventative officiating to avoid a situation that, without knowing what was about to transpire, could lead to an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

Incidentally, by directly handing the ball to a fan, Newton won’t be fined for sending a football into the stands. This is a $5,787 fine if a player throws the ball into the stands ($11,576 on subsequent offenses), because this causes a dangerous scramble in the stands.

Ben Austro Ben Austro December 6, 20158:06 pm

Panthers at Saints

Saints coach Sean Payton was livid on the sideline after the Panthers seemed to get away with having 12 players in the offensive huddle for the second time in the game. Coming out of the television replay, 12 players are seen breaking the huddle. The 12 players then lined up in formation for at least three seconds (the time threshold in the rule for a 12-in-formation foul on the offense). Either the too-many-in-huddle or too-many-in-formation foul must be called which precedes the snap.

The Panthers called timeout before a penalty was called.

Payton challenged the 12-man foul, but the only thing that is challegeable is 12-on-the-field, which requires a legal snap to occur, not the two fouls that precede the snap listed above. Allen was intending on granting the challenge, but was told it was not reviewable when he got to the replay equipment. The Saints were not charged a challenge nor penalized a timeout, which is the correct protocol in this case.


Ben Austro Ben Austro December 6, 20156:12 pm

Panthers at Saints (video)

Another rule oddity created with the conversion-try rule revision was that the ball remains live for a defensive recovery. Previously, this was a dead ball as soon as the defense recovered the ball or when a kick has failed.

Linebacker Stephone Anthony of the Saints becomes the first player to score two-points for defense on a 2-point conversion, as he recovered a blocked kick. The yardage is not recorded for statistical purposes, but it is probably the hardest work a player has put in for 2 points.

Ben Austro Ben Austro December 6, 20156:05 pm

Eagles at Patriots (video)

dropkickOn a kickoff, kicker Stephen Gostkowski is handed the ball by the back judge as usual, which starts the play clock. Without placing the ball on the tee, Gostkowski pitches to safety Nate Ebner who dropkicked the kickoff. A kickoff may be kicked by a placekick (using a tee is optional) or by a dropkick. (On a safety kick, the ball must be punted, placekicked, or dropkicked, but a tee may not be used.)

Incidentally, Ebner was a member of the United States national rugby union team, where kicks similar to dropkicks are a part of regular play.

This is my only recollection of a dropkick being used on a kickoff. There are three instances in recent memory of a dropkick on a safety kick.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz December 6, 20155:16 pm

Panthers at Saints (video)

Excellent discipline by Brad Allen’s crew to hold their whistles as the Saints Stef Anthony scoops and scores on this fumble.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz December 6, 20155:10 pm

Bengals at Browns (video)

Referee Craig Wrolstad overturns a goal line stand to a Raiders’ touchdown

Ben Austro Ben Austro December 6, 20155:05 pm

Titans at Jaguars

The new extra-point rule has lead to kickers being cut, but I believe this is the first game this season where the margin of defeat is a missed extra-point attempt this season — or three attempts in this case.

Jaguars rookie kicker Jason Meyers was wide right on a 2nd quarter extra-point attempt. After the next touchdown by the Jaguars, a two-point conversion was attempted to make up the difference, but was unsuccessful. In the fourth quarter, Meyers missed another 32-yard extra-point attempt.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz December 6, 20155:04 pm

Panthers at Saints

Line judge Tom Symonette not putting up with any silliness. The Panthers’ Ted Ginn, Jr., drops a pass. The Saints’ Kenny Vaccaro picks up the ball and tries to hand it to Ginn. Symonette properly throws his flag and calls Vaccaro for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting – turning a 3rd and 10 into a new set of downs for the Panthers.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz December 6, 20154:44 pm

Bengals at Browns (video)

Field judge Dyrol Prioleau rules A.J. Green short of the goal line. After consulting with line judge Jeff Bergman, Prioleau changes his call to touchdown. Turns out he was right the first time. Referee Jeff Triplette changes the call after going under the hood to Green being down short of the goal line.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz December 6, 20154:33 pm

Jaguars at Titans (video)

One of the biggest enemies of officiating is surprise. Referee Gene Steratore and umpire Barry Anderson are ready for the snap that went berserk and turned into a defensive touchdown.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz December 6, 20154:20 pm

Falcons at Buccaneers (video)

Jameis Winston picks up his own fumble and gains 20 extra yards.

First of all, great whistle discipline by all the officials – especially the head linesman and line judge – in holding the whistle as it sure looked like the play was over.

Second of all, this would be a legal play with under two minutes to go in the half as Winston picked up his own fumble.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz December 6, 20154:14 pm

Dolphins at Ravens (video)

Nice mechanics by John Parry’s crew in this fumble scrum. The first officials to arrive at the pile need to dig to the bottom while the second ring makes sure others don’t jump on the pile, while the third ring of officials orbit the pile to prevent fights from breaking out.

Ben Austro Ben Austro December 6, 20153:49 pm

49ers at Bears (video)

The 49ers punted to the Bears in the second quarter, and a spectacular save was made with Quinton Patton. Leaping into the end zone, Patton was able to toss the ball back into the field of play before his feet came down. Since Patton has not yet possessed the ball — his feet not touching the ground eliminate the possibility that he possessed — this continues to be a live play.

A Bears player attempted to recover, but he muffed the recovery, and the ball popped out loose in the end zone. Because of the muffed recovery, the automatic touchback provision of a punt crossing the goal line does not apply, so the loose ball may still be recovered. The ball rolled out over the end line, making it a touchback at that point. The 49ers challenged the play, but the only result that would benefit them is if the Bears possessed the ball — possession and down-by-contact would be Bears ball at the 1; possession and fumble would be a little more complicated, but would still be Bears ball at the 1. The review confirmed the touchback.

The Bears had an insurance policy on the play, since the 49ers touched the ball first. That means that the Bears have an opportunity to recover the ball with essentially no risk of a loss of possession. No matter what the result of the play is, the Bears can revert back to the 49ers first-touch spot. Since Patton was in the air in the end zone, his first-touch spot is deemed to be the 1-yard line, and the Bears have an option to take the dead-ball spot or take the ball where it was first touched by the 49ers. If the Bears recover the ball and fumble, they can still retain possession by taking the first-touch spot to wipe out the fumble. (The lone risk is if the Bears commit a foul with a fumble; then they cannot use the first-touch spot.)

The Bears cannot be charged with a safety, because they did not possess the ball. A kick remains a kick until possessed — and, in this case, it remained a kick until going out of bounds. Therefore, it was still a kick when it entered the end zone, and the “impetus” (not the force) is charged to the kicking team, making the touchback the only possible ruling. (There are narrow exceptions that allow the receiving team to be charged with impetus, but none apply here.)

Ben Austro Ben Austro December 6, 201512:04 pm

Today’s officials

Referee assignments for Week 13 (2015 crew rosters)


  • HL8 Dana McKenzie (swing official) to Hochuli’s crew (ATL-TB)
  • U102 Bruce Stritesky (swing official) to Coleman’s crew (DEN-SD)
  • SJ95 James Coleman (swing official) to Corrente’s crew (HOU-BUF)
  • SJ60 Gary Cavaletto to Allen’s crew (CAR-NO)
  • SJ97 Tom Hill to Vinovich’s crew (AZ-STL)
  • BJ17 Steve Patrick to Anderson’s crew (DAL-WAS/Mon.)

From Football Zebras editor Ben Austro

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22 thoughts on “Quick calls: Week 13

  1. Live from the MetLife Bowl, another John Hussey classic:
    1. Jets player goes out of bounds at NYG22. Refs spot it at NYG20, NYG challenges, play stands although it is painfully obvious player was out of bounds.
    2. NYJ15 hits NYG38 in the face, no flag. Play later, NYJ15 once again hits NYG38 in the face (who doesn’t react) – hands to the face penalty on NYG38. Because why not.

  2. it’s obvious that the refs for the minnesota game are seattle fans. the most poor calls ever. and the head people in the ref office will never do anything about it

  3. In giants game(see A above) a penalty was called on the Giant player for hand to face. Replay clearly shows Giant player legally push jets receiver coming off the line AND then the jet receiver gives giant a straight arm with hand to face. Next play, similar hand to face by jet. What is going on? Ditto with the replay shows jet went out of bounds 2 yards from where ball was spotted. That is awful.

  4. Quit Bashing The Refs They Are My Brothers, My Sisters And My Friends and i got both their fronts and their backs and i will always be behind them and back them up as a friend

  5. Did anyone try to watch the Viking Seahawk game? We had a football party at our house and because the officiating was so bad we shut the TV off shortly after the half and everyone went home.
    I don’t know if anyone is in charge of these clowns but whoever it is has to be embarrassed.
    I have watched football for over 58 years and I have never seen it as bad as it is now. The players no longer determine the outcome of a game the referees do.

    I have had a lot of fun watching football over the years but I’m done!!!

  6. Did anyone see the pass interference call that negated a touchdown in the Miami vs. Ravens game? Completely an imaginary call.

  7. Did anyone notice the refs forgot to mark off the penalty against Seattle (1:09 left in the 3rd quarter)? It would have been 2nd and 11, but they played it 2nd and 1.

    Of course, Seattle Scored on the 2nd and 1.

  8. @josh kelly:

    On that play, SEA-82 (L. Willson) was called for holding in advance of the line of scrimmage. The proper enforcement is from the spot of the foul, which is what the officials did. The officials did appear to be momentarily unsure of the exact spot at which the foul occurred, but it seems they got it right in the end.

  9. Three times Carolina had 12 players in the huddle against the Saints, and all three times the clowns in stripes couldn’t count. This game is hysterical.

  10. On the bad snap / defensive touchdown in JAX-TEN, was there a foul called for the snow angel at the bottom of the pile?

  11. Anyone know why the Colts-Steelers play, a kickoff return right before the half I think, was whistled dead? The Colts ball carrier ran into the back of a group of locked up teammates, but nobody had a hand on him, he was still upright, he still had the ball, and still had room to potentially scramble to the side. He raised a hand as if to ask what gives, but the commentators stuck with their idle chatter, the tv coverage whisked away to commercial, and I turned it off and went to bed. I might have been missing something, but my father-in-law was just as mystified as I was.

  12. @Refreviewing
    I didn’t see anything definitive to show a tipped ball. If they reviewed it (yes, touching the pass is reviewable) there would not be a reversal.

    Because the returner’s knee went down in a way that looked like the player was giving up. That wasn’t his intent, but it was judged that way. That is typical for that type of a kick that goes to a middle returner, who will sometimes give himself up, especially in the clock situation. The whistle has to be quick in this case, because a return started. Also, the knee doesn’t have to go all the way down, as long as the play is judged to be that the runner is surrendering.

  13. RE: Panthers at Saints. How can six professional zebras miss 12 men in the huddle three times in one game with the coach screaming at them about it? Did those guys put their Panther jerseys back on as they left the stadium?

  14. The only way to clean up the bad officiating is to fine the referee. Hit them in the pocketbook like league does to the players. P.s. firing Roger Goodell may not be a bad idea either

  15. As an official myself, I can tell you that fining the refs will NOT help them officiate any better. They genuinely want to get the right call. I’m constantly blown away by how often they get the call right the first time, at full speed.

    That being said, officiating has been rough this year. This coming from a Ravens fan who watched Baltimore lose to Jacksonville because of a bad no-call at the end, lose to Miami thanks to a huge phantom offenseive pass interference call in the beginning of the game, and lose to Oakland with a bad DPI call on 3rd down on Oakland’s last drive that they scored a TD on.

    How do we fix the officiating? Have an official watching from the booth. Give each coach an extra challenge, and make penalties (and the chance to review for a penalty) reviewable. I’ll take 5 to 7 minutes more of a game to get more calls right, and help the proper team win.

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