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5 officiating observations from Super Bowl 50

No iconic calls, but Blakeman’s crew handles business

The game wasn’t a classic, but it was more competitive than the 24-10 score. While none of the calls from Super Bowl 50 will make our list of best all-time calls, the officiating crew can be satisfied with their efforts.

Here is what stuck out to me officiating-wise Sunday night.

  1. Good coin toss. Referee Clete Blakeman had a moment during his overtime coin toss in the playoffs, but tonight he handled himself well. First of all he had a classy introduction, and was entirely in command during the coin toss. He didn’t rush, was deliberate, and the coin toss went off without a hitch. The media crush of this coin toss is ridiculous and Blakeman did great.
  2. No nonsense. Last year the league was embarrassed as one of the last plays of Super Bowl XLIX degenerated into a fight, leading to the first-ever ejection is Super Bowl history. Tonight, Blakeman’s crew was quick to flag late hits and was quick to flag taunting and other unsportsmanlike conduct. Some of the calls tonight have been “talk-to’s” in the past where officials warn players to tone it down and cajole them to play with good sportsmanship. Not in Super Bowl 50. The crew set the tone early and were consistent in enforcing late hits and taunting. Therefore, the teams concentrated on football and not running their mouths.
  3. No officials injured, but some close calls. Two members of the crew took a spill. In the first half, back judge Keith Ferguson was hit from behind and took a nasty spill when Broncos safeties were chasing a Cam Newton scramble. Ferguson got right back up and didn’t miss a beat. Late in the game, referee Clete Blakeman faced a nightmare. Cam Newton fumbled and as Blakeman moved forward to rule on possession, the ball squirted out of the pile and landed right at his feet. Blakeman slipped and stumbled trying to get out-of-the-way (video). Fortunately he was not hit by any players. To the best of my knowledge, a Super Bowl alternate has never gotten into the game. I’m glad that streak remains intact.
  4. Possible catch ruled incomplete (video). In the first quarter, it appeared Jericho Cotchery appeared to catch a great pass. Back judge Keith Ferguson moved in to spot the ball like it was a catch, but head linesman Wayne Mackie come in, emphatically waving it off. He apparently ruled that the ball was moving too much and Cotchery didn’t control the ball to the ground. I thought it was a catch, Mike Carey thought it was a catch, but the ruling was that there was no indisputable evidence to reverse the call. If it was called a catch and reviewed, I would guess it would have stayed a catch. To me, that was the most controversial moment of the game. Mackie had a good angle to make the call and he made it with conviction. He wouldn’t have waved it off unless he was sure.
  5. The fouls were there. There are no tight calls in this game like the Mario Manningham catch in Super Bowl XLVI, the David Tyree Catch in Super Bowl XLII or the Santonio Holmes toe-tapper in Super Bowl XLIII. When the officials threw a flag, the replay clearly showed the infraction. Fans of both teams will quickly point out and claim a horribly officiated game, but they are wrong. The game was hard-hitting and the officials called what needed to be called. 

It ends so suddenly. Six months go so fast from the Hall of Fame game to the Super Bowl. We will tie up any loose ends as it pertains to Super Bowl 50 officiating this week, and Football Zebras will be here in the offseason to report on rules changes, officiating roster changes and any other pertinent NFL officiating news.

Photo: Umpire Jeff Rice and the rest of the officiating crew rule on possession after a fumble a pile-up. (Getty Images)

Mark Schultz
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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72 thoughts on “5 officiating observations from Super Bowl 50

  1. All of the calls were there, but the issue was that there were others to be made without getting into borderline calls (kick catch interference, Kony Ealy coming off the bench to engage a Bronco, Denver pass interference right before Carolina FG). That isn’t even getting into whether Talib was offsides on the missed FG

  2. Wow, so no comment on Talib being offside, on the FG attempt. No comment on Denver`s tight end pushing off to get clear for an 18 yard reception on the first play of the game. No comment on Talib, who should have been ejected for the worst facemask I have ever seen. No comment on roughing the passer at the end game against Carolina that should have been called. I am NOT a Carolina fan, but I love the game and that game looked pretty crooked to me. How do you miss Talib being offside by a good two feet on a FG attempt, yet call every false start penalty against Carolina?

  3. Without a view down the line of scrimmage, it’s hard to tell whether Talib was offside or not. But if you look at the video on this page [http://fansided.com/2016/02/07/super-bowl-50-graham-gano-hits-upright-video/] (you’ll have to scroll down; it’s not the long video at the top of the page), you can use the on-field yard markers–the so-called “hash marks”–to get an idea as to where he was as well as where he should have been. Given that it was a 44-yard kick, & the ball is usually kicked from 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage, & the distance also includes the 10 yards for the end zone, the line of scrimmage must have been the 27. Talib may have lined up a yard or so behind the line of scrimmage, i.e., at the 26, & started moving a split second prior to the snap. Be that as it may, his left foot was on the 26, & the rest of his body, including his right foot, was behind it a split second after the ball was snapped. Therefore, unless the line of scrimmage was the 26 (which doesn’t appear to be the case, based on the positions of the interior linemen), Talib was NOT offside.

    The call was correct.

  4. Sorry but the blown reception giving carolina first down at the 38yline was gigantic, since the sack td followed 2 plays later…

    The blown pass interference call with Ginn (in addition to the blown def holding call two seconds earlier) at the bronco 10yline was also critical… first and goal, or field goal….

    Not to mention norman’s lame holding call well within 5 yd at start of game was also a handcuff against carolina… this interpretation was not followed consistently as game moved on… easily shown as a bias in ginn’s no call above…

  5. Still no talk of clete being out of position in cam’s late fumble huh?

    So out of position he didnt see von?miller throw the ball toward the Panthes’ end zone… A 100%clear illegal batting call…. but we know the refs don’t know?that rule.

    Anyone disagree?it should have been an ilelgal bat?

  6. Mark this article shows your lack?of ability to use your eyes. This is what my review of you was last time you applied. You ref with your ears not your eyes like you should.

    Because phil sims or the golf announcer didnt mention something?didnt mean it didnt happen.

    I have spoken to roger about this today… he has promised me big changes.

  7. On the Cotchery catch – that is an absolutely terrible job by Wayne Mackie, who is not a bad HL. Cotchery had his back to him and there is no way he saw that ball hit the ground. Mostly because it did not as Cotchery’s left hand was cradling the ball as he hit the ground. This was clearly a catch. Not sure where the two wing guys were, but it seems like they and the BJ would be more suited to make that call as the play was fairly far down the field. But, bad job by 106.

    As for the comment about Talib and ejection by Shirelle and SteveO – have either of you watched much football? You want there to be ejections for a facemask in the process of making a tackle in a full speed chase? Are you serious?

    Tbone- Great observation and I have a question – I also wondered why Blakeman got meshed up in that play too. Commentary after the fact (nothing from Simms and Nantz) said he was trying to get a close look to determine possession. Probably would have been better off waiting for play to further develop. In his defense, he made a very athletic move to get out of the way when the play came his way. The rest of his crew might have been run over due to lack of mobility caused by large guts. But, you are right, it did appear that the ball was batted. The tv camera did not pick up by who (although it would seem by a Denver player). Anyone know what the judgement would be if a Denver player had batted the ball? Would they still get possession? If so, would the ball go back to where it was batted?

  8. It was very, very obvious that the close controversial calls went in favor of Denver. By getting the close calls(and that ridiculous punt return situation) they are able to win the game with less than 200 yards of offense. Denver won the game, but the saying that “if you just get in the game anything can happen” was never more true. Fine stuff happens in the games, but after the game I don’t care for the rhetoric coming out of Denver rubbing it in and putting Cam Newton in his place. Denver can call Newton a bad loser, but the Broncos are a bunch of bad winners, which is probably worse. And Talib should have been tossed.

  9. I thought this was a rather well officiated game. I agree that the Cotchery catch was probably a catch, but Cotchery might want to actually find the handle to help the referees out with that call. There were some pass interference and holding calls that the referees refused to call, because when it gets playoff time they’ll let you get away with that more than you can in the regular season (which is wrong and needs to change), but that’s just how it is. The best thing about it all is that no one was talking about the referees after the game.

    I do want to give some special credit to the Carolina defense too. They really did an exceptional job with what they had to work with and gave a great effort.

  10. No one is mentioning the blatant holding by the Carolina tackles especially in the 4th quarter and the obvious grounding by cam at least twice.
    Btw a batting call should only apply in the open field or when obvious. Von was stripping the ball out of a pile. That would have been a super ticky tack call.

  11. Matt very clear batting. He threw the ball 10 yards downfield.

    Should have been carolina ball first down.

    look at von Miller’s left hand.

  12. Definitely a bunch of bad and no calls. The no catch caused the game. Talib should have been ejected for the ugly face mask. Off size and yes the ones I saw all favored the Broncos.

  13. Overall it was a mostly fair job. Thinking that the officials called against the Panthers is laughable. Lots of calls that could have gone either way. The Talib facemask foul (and Panther TD) wouldn’t have occurred except for the taunting call on Talib for an exchange that was started by the Panther WR. In the photo of Miller knocking the ball out on the first strip sack, the lineman is pulling Miller’s shirt in a clear hold. For every “biased” call against the Panthers, there were some that weren’t called, like the 2 or 3 grounding calls that should have been made. Oh, and replay showed the nose of the ball hitting the ground and jarring loose from Cotchery’s hand and ending up pinned by his elbow — the ground played a big part so, not a catch.

    Panther fans need to man up and admit their team got handled and their QB lost composure rather than trying to blame the officials.

  14. @CJ
    I have not heard any credible person complain of bias.

    Still,

    They messed up the Cotchery catch.

    They messed up the punt interference.

    They messed up the second Miller strip fumble by missing a batted ball.

    They missed a defensive offsides that was pretty obvious.

  15. The officiating in this game sucked. That is for lack of a better word. Every call against Carolina was justified but the lack of calls for pass interference and defensive holding and even offsides were not even seen by the officials. I saw them. They had this rigged from the start. It would have been a much closer game if the officiating had been fair.

  16. As I predicted the gloating and bad behavior by the Broncos after the Super bowl that even extended up to Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips is now a story. Its right on the front of the Sports Illustrated web page. We teach kids to be good losers, but its even more important to be a good winner. Manning and some others on the team get the gravity of the moment and have been gracious, unfortunately Talib and some others(PHILLIPS!) have been atrocious winners rubbing it in and putting Cam in his place. Pretty disgraceful and its tarnishing the Super Bowl win for Denver. Its not justified by Cam being a showboat. When you win you should be gracious and show some class regardless.

  17. “No one is mentioning the blatant holding by the Carolina tackles especially in the 4th quarter and the obvious grounding by cam at least twice.”

    “the lack of calls for pass interference and defensive holding and even offsides were not even seen by the officials. I saw them.”

    Apparently, you all missed my post before the playoffs… or didn’t believe me… when I said the truth: the officials let the defensive players get away with murder in the playoffs. It’s not a bias against any team, it’s just the way it is. That’s why teams like New England, Green Bay, and Manning’s Colts and Broncos (before the Broncos got a defense) have had so many seasons where they’re offensive juggernauts in the regular season but they can’t close the deal in the post season. It’s wrong, and it needs to stop. But until it does, we should stop being surprised by it.

  18. What everyone fails to realize is you are remarking on what cbs showed you. Unless you were at the game or have access to nfl footage you only saw a fraction of the game

  19. I think all in all it was called fairly, there were more than a few missed holding calls on carolina, two missed intentional grounding calls the incomplete pass the ball touched the ground before he had complete control so it was the right call. the first taunting penalty was bs and gave carolina the touchdown as well as that late hit on a cam newton that wasnt even on the ground yet. I dont think carolina would of had a single point on the board without the refs calling it their way for a large portion of the game.

  20. Dear “NOT Carolina fans”! Could you be so kind to tell me why is it so hard for you to open nfl.com and find there the rules of the game you are talking about with so much passion?
    Why is it so hard for you to find that “catch” video and find that the ball touched the ground?
    Why is it so imposible for you to find “falsestart Talib” video to see that he was cleary a yard behind?
    Why you could not even understand that an ejection is not applied only because you don’t like a player’s move?
    Why you just try to blame the officials instead of admit that your… oh…. i’m sorry… THAT Carolina team played worse than Denver?

  21. I wasn’t rooting for either team, but I have two issues nagging at me regarding fairness:

    1) The Replay Assistant assigned by the NFL is from Denver. His wife was wearing a “Broncos Pride” jersey at the game. I’m not sure how this happens.

    2) No fouls were called against Denver in the last 36 minutes of game time, despite a very physical game. The only flag thrown was picked up without explanation. Eight were called against Carolina in the same time period.

  22. Assigning Jimmy Oldham to this game was a huge mistake in optics by the league. I have no doubt he did a fine, unbiased job, but WHAT was the league thinking? It gives the whole game a bad odor, and it would have been so easy to assign someone else and avoid all the second guessing.

  23. This website apparently won’t upload my lengthy analysis. Therefore I will have to upload it in several parts.

    PART 1

    Here is my analysis of the major calls in the game. I give the crew a C grade at best. Too many mistakes for a game of this level.

    First, consider the source of the commentary which starts this section. He comments “Fans of both teams will quickly point out and claim a horribly officiated game, but they are wrong. The game was hard-hitting and the officials called what needed to be called.“ This is an inaccurate statement. The commentator is a high school official and has never worked in the upper echelon of this sport. Nor has he evaluated upper level football officials. So take his comments for what they are. In essence, commentary by a fan of the game who happens to have a little bit of knowledge of officiating, but not the in-depth knowledge, training and experience that is necessary to effectively comment on the calls made or not made in this game.

    In my expert opinion, this crew cannot be satisfied with the effort put forth in this game. As a crew, if they are critical (show me an official who is not his own worst critic and I will show you a horrible official) of themselves, they will learn from their mistakes, and strive to improve. At this level, however, they should not be making these type of basic mistakes. With the current hiring process, mistakes such as these are not unexpected. Just examine the nepotism tree on this crew and you will understand. The NFL does not hire the best officials available. Everyone on this site, if they are being fair, should realize this.

    I won’t cover all the mistakes in this game, but will touch on a few that stand out. If you don’t believe me, rewind your DVRs to the plays commented upon, sit back, and perhaps learn a few things.

    Let’s start out with the dropped/caught pass at 7.16 in the first. The receiver who made the catch/drop was initially keyed by the LJ, who came running in with a strong incomplete signal. That is his key; he has to make a call. He sold what he thought he saw. The only problem is the back judge had the best look at this play. The back judge, at the time the ball went up, had to switch off his key and go to ball and he needed to see and rule a catch, or not. It was right in front of him and he had the best look at it. (The opposite deep wing could have helped out on this also) Kudos to the LJ for selling it, but no way the LJ can see the result from his position. The problem is the BJ hung his LJ out to dry. The BJ had to see this, and had to come in and make a call as far as the catch was concerned. He did not, so the LJ gets praise for at least making a call, albeit late and incorrect, because the BJ froze. The BJ forced the LJ’s hand. I don’t blame the LJ he did what he had to do and sold it strong. Replay should have bailed him out. I blame the BJ completely, here. Terrible piece of officiating by the BJ. If you look at the BJ’s face as he came in late, he had a look of bewilderment on his face, a deer in the headlights look. The BJ had absolutely no idea what occurred, when that was his responsibility. Take a look at the play and take a look at the BJ’s face. He was completely lost when he had to rule on this play. He was desperately looking for help, when it was he who should have ruled catch. Perhaps the back judge’s huge gut, indicative of being out of shape, slowed his reaction time down. Nevertheless, he needs to see this and help out his wing official. I laughed when I read Item 4 in the commentary above, that the BJ was coming in to spot the ball. No he was not. He was lost in space. In the NFL, this spot has to come from the short wings, who get all the spots up until the 2 yard line. As for the LJ, he couldn’t possibly see this catch. He guessed, because that’s all he could do with the BJ hanging him out to dry. As far as replay goes, that is a tough one. We all know Carey was not one of the better R’s which is one reason he “retired” to the booth, and if you were a betting man this past season and bet against what Carey ruled this season, you would have ended up a winner by the end of the season. This play, however, I believe Carey was correct. This was a catch. From every CBS camera angle I reviewed, even though the ball was bobbled, it never touched the ground when the receiver rolled up with it. Even if you argue it did touch the ground, this alone does not make it incomplete as the receiver controlled it at this junction. It was only bobbled when he rolled up, when he could (and did) still possess it because after this, it never touched the ground. This was a catch. If this isn’t clear evidence of a catch, I don’t know what is. Blandino is once again sticking up for his guy in the face of convincing evidence otherwise. Another game changing mistake, not from the on field official, but from replay. Why have replay when it isn’t used properly? Just get rid of it. This was a game changing mistake by replay. Two plays later, Denver sacks Newton and recovers the fumble in the EZ for a TD. Wow.

    I recall many years ago, I had a receiver on a short out have a ball thrown to him, down low. As I was moving downfield per mechanics, I was straight-lined and didn’t see whether he made a catch, or it hit the ground, as the player had his back to me and it was as short out pattern with the pass low to the ground. I had to make a decision so I ruled catch because I had to make the call. It was a 3 yard gain. My deep wing from all the way across the field, came running across the field and said “Are you sure you had a catch?” Note to rookie officials – notice how my deep wing did not accuse me of missing the call. He said “Are you sure you had a catch?” I replied I guessed at it as I did not see it. My crew mate from way across the field said he saw it hit the ground. I replied “Are you sure?” He said he was sure. The R was over with us and I told him its’s incomplete. No fuss, no muss, second and ten and the TV announcers simply commented on how one official may have a different look, they got in and talked about it and they got it right. We did. I ruled complete and was called off it by my deep wing who had a great look that I did not have. That is what should have happened in the foregoing play, but the BJ (as shown by his deer in the headlights look) had no clue and offered no help. He needed to see this catch but he did not. He was a deer caught in the headlights. The “lost” look on his face when you review the play is priceless. NFL officiating at its best.

  24. PART 2

    At 11.29 in the 2d, there was an interesting play worth commenting upon. Carolina challenged whether Manning was down on a sack, as the officials did not blow it dead even though it was clear Manning was down. In any event, Denver 79 pushed the defensive end of Carolina clearly in the back as the defender swatted at Manning in an attempt to bring him down. Normally, this foul simultaneous with the “sack” would not result in a foul. But here? The crew did not blow him down; the block in the back was crystal clear and pushed the defender away from Manning prohibiting him from making the sack. If Manning was not down (as the crew ruled) we would want a flag here for an illegal block in the back. No flag was thrown, and the play was allowed to continue. The covering officials can’t have it both ways. Either the U or R should have blown Manning down, or had a flag for the illegal block in the back. Neither occurred and Carolina was forced to challenge that Manning was in fact down. Another mistake by the crew, and now? Carolina, even though they won the challenge, was now out of challenges for the game. This is a problem, caused by the crew not seeing that Manning was down. There should have been a flag for illegal block in the back because they did not rule Manning down. Or, rule Manning down and pass on the illegal block.

    Later in the 2d quarter at 9.16, we had “interference with the opportunity to catch a kick.” See Rule 10.1.1. Item 1. Whether or not a fair catch signal was given is of no significance, as “members of the kicking team are prohibited from interfering with any receiver making an attempt to catch the airborne kick, or from obstructing or hindering his path to the airborne kick, and regardless of whether any signal was given.” Here, the K player brushed the receiver as the ball arrived which is a foul that must be called. The fact that the kick was returned for a huge gain and the penalty would be declined is of no significance. What happens if the returner fumbled, and K recovered, and we had no flag? Big problem. That is why in this case, we needed a flag even though it would be declined. A huge missed call. As an evaluator, I am questioning what the heck the deep guys were looking at. Of course, the high school official above commented in another post that this was “good work by deep officials” ruling that R did not make a fair catch signal. Lack of a fair catch signal has nothing to do with anything. The announcers even commented on this, but it was not relevant as no fair catch signal was made. No matter, the receiver has the unfettered right to make the catch, untouched by K. An elementary rule, an easy call to see and make, yet the crew missed it.

    One of the biggest misses of the game was the DOF in the 3rd quarter which was not called on Gano’s missed field goal. This has to be called as the defensive end (Denver 21) gains a huge advantage with this early start, albeit only a split second. With the camera parallax, it was tough to see whether he was or was not, but it does not matter. Per the NFL philosophy on this type of action by a defender in a three point stance, this was DOF and must be called in this situation. I quote from the 2010 NFL Officiating Philosophy Book “If a defensive player is in a 3 point stance and is “crowding” the neutral zone and then moves forward toward the neutral zone, this will be penalized as an automatic DOF.” This philosophy was spelled out in 2007 Training tapes 2 and 3 and I do not believe this has been changed for this season. Here, the defender 21 on the left side of the formation was down in a stance and was crowding the NZ and moved forward prior to the snap. This is a foul. My hand written notes from way back when, during a lecture where we also reviewed film while getting ready for the season stated, after we reviewed a similar play “Any defender crowding the neutral zone who gets an early start – even if it is ever so slight – we want a call for DOF. Even if the defender is technically not in the NZ a call here will be supported if defender moves slightly early. This is too big of an advantage and a call is supported.” NOTE: At 11.29 in the second quarter, on the Carolina try, Denver 21 (the same player offsides on the Gano missed FG discussed above) was the player called offside on the try on the other side of the field. Why did this official call this offside in the 2d quarter on this try, then NOT CALL it in the 3rd quarter on the Gano miss? This was the SAME OFFICIAL, as they switch sides at the half. The movement by Denver 21 was the exact same on each of the plays, except one was from the right end position, the other from the left end position. Denver 21 was called offsides on the try, but not called offsides on the missed field goal. This is yet another example of a “terrible piece of officiating” because of lack of consistency and more important, lack of focus. An official cannot take a play off. Here, the short wing was obviously sleeping on the play to have missed what he had called earlier in the game. How, at this level of football officiating, can this wing be so inconsistent and unfocused? Just another example of why this crew did not have a stellar game.

    I recall many years ago, when Steve Spurrier was coaching Florida, and Jevon Kearse (The Freak) was on his team. Spurrier spoke at our rules clinic and showed us film of Kearse. In the first quarter, he was lined up maybe 4 inches into the NZ. It wasn’t called. 2d quarter? He is now 6-8 inches into the NZ. Still not called. By the 4th quarter, Kearse was almost a foot into the NZ and it wasn’t called. It was kind of funny, watching the progression of the film. Back then we were taught well and had to earn our stripes. We didn’t receive a free pass into top level football because of who we knew or who we were related to. Spurrier told us he taught his players “You know darn well they won’t call it for the first time in the 4th, so keep sliding up until it gets called. Guys, you are darn right I coach my players to do this. If it’s not going to get called? Move up.” I learned a lot that day. Anyway, Gano missed the kick. There should have been a penalty, and a re-kick from 5 yards closer. Odds are he wouldn’t miss it a second time. But we will never know. A monstrous missed call that had an effect not only on momentum, but on the outcome of the game. This miss alone should bring the entire crew grade down 2 notches, as you live and die as a crew even though only one official completely blew this call.

  25. PART 3

    At 13.34 in the 3rd, right tackle 74 Carolina had his feet beat bad (by Von Miller, MVP of the game) so he committed a take-down hold right at the point of attack and right in front of the R. Miller was beating this guy bad the whole game, and this play was a prime example of a hold which must be called. It occurred right in the R’s line of sight and he missed it. I know a lot of holds were missed this game and I understand why some should not be called, but this one had to be called and was not. Huge missed call.

    The UNS against Carolina 70 on the next play? Many will argue it should not have been called. Certainly, it did not look like much, but it was a foul that had to be called per philosophy. Not much there, not too violent, but the shove is late and will not be tolerated. Correct call.

    In the 4th quarter, there was a very embarrassing mechanical mistake committed by the R, on Newton’s fumble. The R lost focus, over-hustled, and reacted towards the pile when he should have stayed back and surveyed. You saw the result. The ball was swatted out of the scrum, the R got caught inside and he had to momentarily stop officiating because he was falling down. In those brief seconds where he was trying to recover his balance, the R missed the illegal bat. Instead of bagging it and staying patient (AND FOCUSED) and back sliding to GL in reverse mechanics, he bagged it and rushed into the scrum, got turned around and fell down. Simply an embarrassing mechanical mistake for an official at this level.

    Unacceptable, yet here he is working the biggest game of the year. You simply cannot lose focus, from the opening kickoff until the final play of the game. Ever. This R lost focus for this play, which no matter how good he was the rest of the game (and he was, for the most part) this was a big downgrade, as he missed the illegal bat.

    As for the play itself, let’s look at the rule, in pertinent part:

    Article 1 Illegal Bat. It is an illegal bat if:
    a) any player bats or punches a loose ball in the field of play toward his opponent’s goal line;

    Did Denver defender 58 (MVP Von Miller) commit an illegal bat, or not? Two camera angles show 58 reaching for the ball with his left hand as a Carolina player was about to recover it. As 58 was not in a positon to recover the ball, he had no choice but to clear the ball out of there, with the hope 1) an illegal bat is not called; and 2) his teammate recovers the ball. This was a smart play by Denver 58. It’s a win-win for 58. If Carolina recovered the ball, Carolina keeps the drive alive. If 58 bats the ball away, there is a chance his guy recovers and the officials miss the illegal bat. If the illegal bat is called? Well, nothing ventured nothing gained. It was a tough call but if the R was in the correct position and not rushing into the pile, he would have seen this and could have made a judgment to throw or not to throw. R gets a big downgrade for being out of position; he was simply too close on this play and should not have moved into the pile. Complete loss of focus. As for the enforcement, if a flag was thrown? Let’s take a look at one of the ARs governing this situation:

    A.R. 8.77. Second-and-10 on B30. A backward pass or fumble hits the ground on the B35 and a defensive player bats the ball to the B40 where he recovers. Ruling: Illegal bat of a loose ball. Enforcement is from the previous spot as it is behind the line. A’s ball first-and-10 on B20.

    Thus, we would have Carolina ball, enforced from previous spot, ten yards, first down. Since it was 3rd and 9 from the 25, we would have first and ten from the 35 and Carolina’s drive remains alive. Again, a huge momentum changing non-call, simply because we had an R out of positon on the play which caused him to fall down and miss it. Inexcusable at this level. A huge officiating error. The illegal bat was there to be seen, and was similar to the missed illegal bat in the Seahawks-Lions game earlier in the season. This was a missed call of game changing proportion. It was an overt act by a smart player, just like the illegal bat (in the end zone) which was not called earlier in the season, which cost the Lions the game.

    See this link for the blown call in the Seahawks-Lions game:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/182650/faq-what-in-the-world-is-an-illegal-bat

    The illegal bat is a very difficult call to discern, but as you saw earlier in the season as well as in the Super Bowl, they were missed calls. This link should shed some light on the issue and its difficulty.

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/10/06/espn-dropped-the-ball-on-illegal-bat/

    Nonetheless, the illegal action by Miller in swatting the ball back towards the goal line was overt, and illegal. A flag needed to be thrown and it was not, because the R made a mechanical error which could be attributed to “over” hustling.

  26. PART 4

    On the ensuing Denver series, on 3rd and goal. Manning heaves a pass into the stands. There is considerable difference of opinion on this call. This is an example of if the play was sent out to six different evaluators for a second opinion, three say good call and three say no call should have been made. Here, the deep wing throws for a hold. Was there really a material restriction? Was this just hand fighting? Here is the philosophy, which doesn’t help much:

    Defensive Holding against an Eligible Receiver
    • If there is a grab of the receiver’s jersey and there is a stretch or extension of the jersey, this is a foul for DH.
    • If while in press coverage there is a quick extension (stretch) of the jersey coming off of the line of scrimmage, this is not a foul. Look for the one after the receiver makes a break. If while in press coverage, the defender grabs the collar of the jersey and there is a quick jerk or spin, this is a foul for DH.

    We have no extension here. The receiver is pushing the defender, who has his hands all over the receiver. Is this merely incidental hand-fighting that we see on every pass play between a corner in press coverage and a receiver? The main question is did the defender actually hold and materially restrict? Or did the receiver get hung up on the turf, causing that stutter step which may have been interpreted as being caused by the defender, by the deep official? Further, did it matter because Manning was throwing the ball away anyway as the receiver was blanketed in coverage? In my opinion, the better judgment is not to throw. I believe the receiver’s feet got hung up in the crappy turf and he slipped but it seems the calling official saw this and believed a hold had something to do with this. In any event there was no effect on the play, so in this particular situation, the better decision would be to let it go. Manning was looking for a flag and the deep wing obliged Manning. I would grade this as a partially correct call (yes it is a foul, but we didn’t really need to call it). I could be talked out of it, but that is the way I would lean. This call put an end to any hopes the Panthers had, to win this game. Pretty huge call.

    Although I haven’t touched on all the mistakes, there were a few more including a UNS that should not have been thrown in the first half. It was not a game control foul it should not have been thrown at all. But this crew was too worked up and too tense at the start of the game, and rather than taking control early with voice and presence, they threw UNS flags which in some cases should not have been thrown. At 13.45 in the 2d period, there was a play that ended in the Carolina bench, and the crap started up again. This time, as you can see when you look at the play, the crew did an excellent job of controlling the nonsense, by using their voices and being a presence. This should have been done in the beginning of the game, instead of throwing the BS flags for this nonsense. On this play, the R did an excellent job coming into the sidelines as a presence, the short wing was there as a presence, and the deep wing ran all the way into the nonsense, again as a presence. The aftermath of play was well controlled by these three officials with presence and voice. The question is why wasn’t this done earlier? Because the crew was too tense and worked up at the beginning of the game. A high school official usually does not comprehend this facet of officiating, but a good crew working together can control a game with voice and presence, not flags. Throw on only the egregious UNS’s. This is why the NFL should use crews in the post season, not slap together officials from different crews. A crew develops a rapport over time. Piece-mealing it out like they do for the playoffs only increases the chances of mistakes. It took over a quarter for this crew to get their rapport going. Wouldn’t it be better to have an entire season to build your rapport? The NFL should keep crews together for the playoffs, but the union won’t allow this.

    On a non-rules/mechanics topic, whatever happened to top level football officials being in good shape? The R certainly is in great shape. Why aren’t all the officials at this level in tip top physical condition? Where is the pride in one’s appearance? You would think when you are being compensated with very large game fees, you would devote time to making sure you don’t have a huge gut. The H and L had big guts; the U and B had bigger guts, and the FJ had a gut. The SJ was passable. This is what you get, however, with a union. No standard because there will be no accountability. But I digress.

    All in all, this was not an unexpected way to close out another season of generally substandard officiating across the board. I say substandard, because at this level, we should not be seeing such a myriad of errors on a regular basis.

    Whatever happened to the old adage I used to follow? As soon as the ball kicks off, it is just another football game. Relax. Focus. It’s football, not rocket science. For the great ones, this is how it truly was.

  27. Crusty- Spot on analysis.

    I also believe that Cotchery did indeed make that catch. Also, I think it was the HL and not the LJ who made the declarative no catch call.

    Question for you regarding point 2. Isn’t an offensive lineman allowed to block a defensive lineman in the back (above the waist) in the tackle box when pass blocking? It happens all the time on slide blocks.

    On not hiring the best officials. In my humble opinion, the officials on the field from nepotism are the second worst set of officials.

  28. From the sidelines: I could be incorrect on whether it was H or L, as I don’t know who home team was. The H always starts on the visiting side, however, so you can figure it out from there as I wasn’t looking at the letter on his shirt. As for the block in the back, it was illegal, as an o-lineman per rule 12.1.3 which states ….it is a foul…..for the o lineman….to block an opponent from behind…..UNLESS in close line play, which this was not.

  29. CRV, spot on again. How about Blandino’s interviw (posted here on FZ) that more females are in the pipeline! Then look at the guts on the BJ, U, and one of the LOS guys in the Super Bowl. I guess being an overweight female who can give a team a TO when they have none left three different times in a season is the way to go.

  30. Solid write up crusty

    The biggest problem here is the bad officiating makes this look very rigged. The Panthers got shafted badly and with no other recourse besides try again next year and hope the refs aren’t paid to screw you this time….I’m not denying the Broncos defense wasn’t rock solid, but it’s clear Carolinas wind got knocked out of them early thanks to chronic b.s. officiating. And it’s much easier to dominate a deflated team.

    The wrong team may very well have won because of this and the more this happens the more even the least critical fans will notice and cry foul

  31. @ crusty-

    On the Cotchery catch it was 106/ Wayne Mackie / HL.

    Question – When they let the o-line blocking the d-line in the back go unpunished in pass block situations… are they misinterpreting that rule? They do seem to let that one go all the time.

  32. Crusty – I respectfully disagree on the catch. The nose of the ball clearly compresses into the turf, which in turn makes the ball come out of the receiver’s hands and ultimately be trapped by the players elbow. While a secured ball can make incidental contact with the ground, the movement of the ball means it was not secured and therefore incomplete. The call seems consistent with the way the rule has been called all year.

    The line play was very loosely called. Both sides were holding and blocking in the back. The most egregious one was called nullifying the 4th down conversion, but there were plenty more that could have been called.

    I think the worse two misses by this crew were the interference on the kick, and the lack of a whistle on the Manning sack. The failure to call the latter play properly cost the Panthers their final challenge. Fortunately it did not become an issue, but it was poorly done. In general, the youth movement that the league started has really bit them in the rear in terms of experienced officials.

  33. What about all the missed calls?

    A couple for you to review.

    1. Von Miller hitting Cam Newton in the head to blind him and shock him before going to strip the ball.

    2. Von Miller illegally batting the ball toward his opponents end zone while Cam Newton had Miller blocked out in the process of securing the fumble in the 4th quarter.

    Both of these missed calls led to Broncos TDs – 15 points. That would be a considerable impact in the game.

  34. All: For some reason, Part 3 of my analysis is “under moderation” whatever that means. I covered the illegal bat in that section, exclusively, with a detailed analysis. Not sure if that section shows up on your screens yet, but mine says “under moderation.” Don’t know why, it completely broke down the play and the mechanics of the play. As for the block in the back not called, yes, they let some go but this was akin to a “take down hold” in fact could have probably been called such, though block in back was more appropriate. I think it should have been called and if you look at the play you will see why. This is a “hold” that you do not want to pass on as it drove the defender right past the QB. Is “Part 3″of my analysis showing up on anyone’s screen yet? Remember, these are just my opinions and I understand we can agree to disagree and I respect that. For example, the hold (or not) when Manning sailed the ball into the stands on 3rd down at the end of the game. Reasonable, expert minds will disagree on this and that is why I said it could go 50/50 depending upon who is looking at it; on that play there is no “right” decision which is the beauty of officiating, except for when replay can fix something and does not.

    Where is Part 3 of my analysis on the illegal bat play??? Hmmmmm……

  35. @ crusty-

    the illegal bat analysis is missing.

    Am I correct in thinking that the ball should still have been Denver possession but ten yards back from where the bat occurred? I really do not know how that would be enforced.

  36. CJ
    You have been quit vocal, STS, on the balls tip compressing the ground. I have a four K television that disagrees with you. What compressed the ball was the left hand of the receiver underneath the ball, plus his wieght as he was rolling over. I am sorry sir, but the call was incorrect.

  37. Crusty Vet, excellent analysis! However, I disagree with the statements on the 11:29 2ndQ manning official review… that Carolina wss now out of challenges… due to the crew not seeing that manning was down…

    Instead, I would say that carolina was out of challenges due to a rediculous rule that penalizes a team for an official’s mistake. The fix is obvious to a third grader; if a call is overturned, the team retains the challenge.

    How the current rule was established is a testament to the overanalysis and grudge-ego mentality of the current rules comittees. Hello!… McFlag!!

  38. Crusty, still no upload on part 3, which I felt was one of the most egregious no calls. All because the official jumped the gun and was on his ass instead of being in perfect position to see the penalty

  39. Crusty retried vet: You speak of the huge game fees and then complain about the union that made them possible. Amazing!

    Do you care to share with the group the reasons for your “retirement”?

  40. @Fred.R

    You are joking right? The ball clearly hits the ground. The nose hits the ground as the other end of the ball is pointing straight up. His left hand is barely on the ground and not in a position to compressed the ball as you said it is, since it is not on the nose of the ball. The ground gave him possession.

  41. Bates, I am clearly serious, if you have seen it with any clarity, it is pretty obvious. The ball moves in his arm but his left hand is under the ball. The ball literally never touches the ground. I can’t pretend that it did.

  42. @MJ –
    Are you intentionally sarcastic on that first “missed call”? Or, are you just ignorant with regards to football?

  43. @FredR. I have watched that replay at least 100 times and not once did I ever see the ball not hit the ground.

    http://i.imgur.com/vW5K0TC.png

    Look at the ball sticking straight up. Nose on the ground. At this point in the play the ball was never controlled, as it continued to move around. He never had clear possession when he hit the ground his hands and the ball were always moving.

    https://mtc.cdn.vine.co/r/videos/79EFA1461C1308268714852012032_49568f48231.5.1.7587705435299567916.mp4?versionId=MF2wHU3XDu_ScgZfvY8kTxNxFHYF_cBk

    Now when he hits the ground his hand is indeed under the ball, but it’s only for a fraction of a second before the ball slides out from under his hand and hits the ground. Incomplete.

  44. Folks: First, above, Bates posted a still photo. You simply can’t look at a still photo in order to determine what occurred on a play. Any evaluator worth his salt will tell you that still shots look good, but show nothing as there is no motion. You have to have motion or you can’t properly rule on the play. Evaluations 101. Replay 101. When you see the motion on this play, I believe we have a catch. I understand everyone has their opinions; mine is the call should have been reversed. However, unlike Ben and his minions, if you have critical analysis of a play which disagrees with them, they will not permit your post to appear.

    Part 3 of my analysis, which still does not appear on this site, provided an in-depth analysis of the illegal bat play. The play was dissected, from the poor mechanics by the R at the start of the play, through the complete analysis of the illegal bat rule, and how difficult a call it is to make, but should have been made. Unfortunately, because of poor mechanics by the R on this play, (seen by millions on TV you can’t hide it and it is discussed in Part 3 “invisible to the readers here” analysis) the swat by 58’s left hand was not seen and therefore no call was made. I can’t say much more, as this post will not appear.

    In any event, it was enjoyable commenting on many plays this past season. Unless Part 3 of my analysis appears, however, this will be my last post. I will not participate in a forum which censors critical analysis when the analysis does not coincide with the site owner’s opinions, which for the most part, are just fluff, and will not comment on mistakes.

    Funny, how this site is called “Football Zebras. Analysis and Commentary of the NFL’s Officials and the calls they make.” Perhaps they should add “So long as it doesn’t criticize the official’s and their mistakes.”

  45. @crusty-

    Were you an NFL Official? College? High school? You do seem to have as firm a grasp as anyone on here.

  46. @crusty. I personally don’t know what happened to your infamous missing Part III post. Did you embed images? That might have tripped up the site’s malware firewalls. Just a guess. Ben might provide better insight.

    Your comment that FZ censors critical comments is laughable. Look at the comments (learned and simply loony) that have been allowed this entire season.

    Do you think FZ white washes everything? I refer you to: http://www.footballzebras.com/2015/11/24/steratore-crew-defeated-in-monday-night-game/

    and
    http://www.footballzebras.com/2012/11/14/clock-running-during-measurement-missed-by-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-officials/

    and
    http://www.footballzebras.com/2012/11/08/officials-need-to-own-up-to-mistakes/

    and
    http://www.footballzebras.com/2012/11/05/nfl-panthers-incorrectly-awarded-td/

  47. If there are links in a comment (especially multiple links), there is a chance it gets held in moderation. (Mark’s comments notwithstanding, because he is recognized by the system.) There are hundreds of comments that get filtered, so I will have to see if I can find it. I suspect it is a large wall of text that helps grind that axe a little more.

  48. Oh, lookie. I found CRV’s missing blog post — I mean, comment. I just had to scroll through until I found the entry that was as tall as the Chrysler Building. I cleared it through; even though there are 2 links to jump off to someone else’s content, but can’t win them all.

    That said, I don’t know if the NFL ever scouted you, but the overofficiousness of your “Part 3” analysis shows why they may have moved on.

  49. Glad you found and cleared his post

    That said if refs were even half as on point as crusty….the game would be 100x better

    Carolina got robbed blind by either incompetent refs or refs that were paid off all so Peyton can go out on top

    I’d also like to agree again that that was a catch on the first challenge and crusty basically covers why. That still shot proves nothing and in light of the overall officiating of the game it didn’t matter….the refs were there to screw Carolina

  50. @ Fred R. Yes, i have stated two times that the ground caused the ball to move. If that is considered quite vocal with respect to the dozen or more times the echo chamber has said the referees stole a reception from the Panthers, well then yes, I am quite vocal. If you watch with an unbiased eye, it is clear it was not a catch. If you listen to the replay call, the wording was “The call on the field is confirmed.” That means the replay equipment showed the ball moving. Lots of others on this post have said the same thing, and posted evidence. My apologies to you sir, but your 4K TV does not improve the blinders your biases have put on you.

  51. @KAYNE-
    Once you make a comment about the refs being paid off to help Peyton, you prove yourself to be a complete and total moron. You can compete with tbone who claims Wayne Mackie makes a call for his “tv time”.

    Incompetency… well, that is a legitimate issue. The league has made a conscious decision not to hire the best available officials. The NFL is obsessed with hiring based on skin and kin, and of course now the outrageous joke known as Sarah Thomas.

    For the record, I am not an official of any sort, and I am have no axe to grind for being passed over. I am a fan of the game and am very disappointed with the league’s PC leadership. I find the entire realm of Roger Goodell maddening. The same guy who pulls publicity stunts like Sarah Thomas persecutes his league’s best player over ball inflation, all while being incredibly overpaid.

  52. You can call me dumb all day but the fact remains the past TEN super bowls all except maybe a couple have been suspect

    Tom Brady and cheating which the league continues to barely punish.

    Three or four(can’t remember) send off a legend on a high note, which said legend always struggled in the playoffs.

    Football is also a billion dollar business….to say it can’t be rigged is ridiculous

    And this year especially has seen more bad referee calls than ever before

    It’s far from a stretch to say Peyton manning got a farewell gift from the nfl like that Steelers running back or that guy on the ravens…..whose names I can’t remember for some reason

    The fact remains that the Panthers were the better team by far and every time they got momentum the refs screwed them and inexplicably didn’t make one single call against Denver in the second half

    I also don’t think Carolina has had that many penalties in one game all year

    Rigged? I can’t say with 100% certainty, but it’s suspect.

  53. love all the arm chair referees in this group. I’m sure they have made all the calls correctly in their officiating lives. Other than the catch/no catch I didn’t see one call that wasn’t correct or needed to be called. I thought he caught the ball even with replay. But that happened in the first period..calls even big ones in the first period don’t determine outcomes of games in any sport. Good teams can overcome officiating mistakes. Considering how Carolina played they were not the best team on the field that day.

  54. Let me name the bad calls. I will first say the refs let them play for the most part not calling holding on both the Panthers and the Broncos protecting their QB’s. However, the Panthers played against two teams, the Broncos and the Refs. It was obvious from the start of the game on the Norman hold within the first 5 yards, which is allowed. Then the Jerricho Cotchery catch that was a non-catch. Next was the punt interference. Also the Broncos kick return that made the Carolina Panthers look stupid, but the rules state there are 2 ways to signal a fare catch, 1 by waving your arms and the other by nodding your head. The Broncos kick returner clearly nodded his head and that is when the Panthers immediately backed off. There was the fumble by Newton that was batted away, which is illegal. The clearly offsides Talib on the botched field goal. Talib should have been tossed after his blatant face mask to Philly Brown that really could have broken his neck. I have seen people on this forum post that the Cotchery catch touched the ground and that no one is talking about the refs. What Planet are these guys from? All the Sports stations are talking about the bad calls that went the Broncos way. It has been all over the ESPN, NFL, and FOX Sports Networks all week. USA Today, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post all wrote articles on the bad calls. The catch has been reviewed time and time again. It never touched the ground. The back field ref called it a catch, but the line judge ran up and overturned his call into an in-completion. Once they ruled in-completion, there had to be enough evidence to overturn. The catch rules need to be made more clear going into next season. Also, Talib was a good 2 yards into Carolina’s side of the ball, before the ball ever got hiked. Should obviously have been called off-sides, which would have given the Panthers enough yardage for a first down. All the crucial calls and non-calls of the game clearly helped propel the Broncos to the victory. Too much money for the NFL to lose if the Broncos lose.

  55. I can’t believe all the whining look at the video that’s linked right here on the website. The nose of the ball CLEARLY hit the ground yet carolina fans/bronco haters still want to cry about it. All you have to do is at the start of the 22 second mark keep hitting play/stop to watch it in slow motion. You clearly see 3 fingers under the football and the nose of the football along with his elbow hitting the ground, then as you go through the next second of the video you clearly see the ball rotate and he loses possession and regains possession against his side. I mean if you truly look in slow mo you see there is a portion where the nose of the ball clearly is touching the ground, it boggles my mind that so many refuse to see that.

  56. I have watched the replay of the Cotchery controversial play 100 times. Each time, it clearly looks like it should’ve been ruled a catch. First of all, while he’s going to the ground, he clearly has his hand underneath the football and control. There are those that say because the nose of the football may have touched the ground, it should be ruled incomplete. That statement is false. If you read the Bert Emanuel Rule, the ball may touch the ground as long as he has control on his way to the ground and when his body hits the ground, The video shows Cotchery did both. Next, there are people that argued that since the ball moved he lost control and it should be ruled incomplete. I believe that statement is incorrect. The ground did not cause the ball to move. What caused the ball to move was the defensive player diving in and making contact with the ball with his helmet. Then, the ball moved to Cotchery’s side. However, during that process, the ball was pinned against Cotchery’s side with his arm wrapped around the ball. That is not losing control because his arm continued to stay with the ball. Then, Cotchery rolled over, completing the play with his arm wrapped around his side while the ball clearly never touching the ground on that sequence at the end. This was a catch. While Cotchery should have cleanly caught the ball initially, he made a spectactular recovery to do everything he needed to do to make that a catch. I 100% believe he succeeded. The refs totally messed up the original call and the replay as well. Ultimately, it should have been ruled a catch.

    Also, on Inside The NFL, they miked up Ron Rivera and Clete Blakeman talking about the ruling. According to Blakeman, had it been ruled a catch on the field, it would’ve remained a catch. He said there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn it either way. This bothers me even more in light of Crusty’s post and expert analysis. The Line Judge made the call of incomplete. However, as Crusty said, The LJ was on the other side of the field, did not have a clear view of the play, and was only making a “guess” call because the Back Judge, who was in the best position and had the best view of the play bailed and failed in his responsibility to make the call when the call was clearly his to make. So what are we left with? A ruling on the field that was made on a “guess” that needed irrefutable evidence to overturn. No ruling on the field of the play should ever be the result of an official making a “guess” when he had no clear view to make the call. That call was the BJ’s to make. That shows clear incompetence of Blakeman’s crew and totally messed up on handling the play in every way.

  57. Now peter king is following my great lead.

    I was thr first to say illegsl batting on twitter and on here.

    Peter calls the bat “Crystal clear” and should have been called by Clete but as we know he was out of position.

    Really happy roger told peter about this.
    Also expect some changes to replay this off-season roger doesn’t like Dean handling replay doesn’t give league enough of a fall person on Monday.

  58. NJFootball fan: That is a complete and accurate analysis of the catch. Very good work. Whether Ben and the minions “get it” or not. I thank Ben for his information on why Part 3 above – my spot on and correct, unbiased analysis of the missed illegal bat call stemming from poor mechanics by the R, had a delay in posting. I did chuckle at Ben’s ignorant comment above, however, regarding over-officiousness. Rest assured, when I was scouted in the 90s (through no application on my own), after one look at me in one NCAA game, I was put into the system and was soon hired. Unlike others who continue to believe they can work on the field at an advanced age when the reflexes are not as quick as they used to be because of either age or being out of shape (look at all the guts we saw in the playoffs), I came off the field. Presently, I will continue to collect my pension and comment on this site under the moniker Crusty, in order to help all learn. Although the body may slow down, the brain will remain sharp if you keep working it. If I spot an error in analysis made as I browse the site, by those who have never worked (nor trained others) at the highest levels of the sport, I will comment if I am not out fishing. If posters want to insult, rather than critically comment upon my analysis, have at it. I can handle it, which of course “handling the BS coming at you” is a small piece which contributes to one being a superb official. As you can see from my comment in my Part 4 above, if the issue can be seen in 2 opposing ways, I will note same. Sometimes, plays simply are too difficult to rule one way or the other. They should just get rid of replay and let the official’s officiate to the best of their ability. As Tex Schramm said, (something like) “replay is taking the human element out of the game.” I think he had a valid point.

  59. @CRV
    If you are a retired NFL official, congratulations on your career and your contributions to officiating. I am a HS official. Time, age, ability, job status and commitment vs. family time never lined up for me to try for a higher level. I watch NFL officials do brain surgery each Sunday while I can perform an emergency appendectomy.

    Your comments would bear more weight to me if they were made in the light of your true identity. You have said, quite rightly that replay has made it a very hard game to officiate. You, of all people, should know how difficult a job it is to call a perfect game and be in perfect position every time – even when the ball squirts out of the pile.

    Yet, 90% percent of your posts contain long, exhaustive and sometimes vitriolic criticism of the officials and leave the impression that officiating has never been worse – or at least not as good as when you were on the field. These are your former colleagues. This is the profession you aspired to and attained. This is the job that you did and that you admit is nearly impossible to do. Any of these guys ever make a good call or are in good position? Why the angry criticism?

    If you are who you describe, I have a few guesses judging by NFL hires having a shorter than average career.

    Tell us your name and then we can judge your credentials and motives.

  60. @mark-

    I also am not an NFL official. But, I do have a perspective from the sidelines. And, I have a guess as to who crusty may be…just because the timing and his sheer volume of commentary brings one official in particular to mind. Read through and tell me if he was on your short list.

    I think the officials in the NFL in general are very good. Most are very qualified, and most take their jobs very seriously. Furthermore, the league office micromanages their performance to ensure that they are good.

    Crusty does raise a few valid points. But, I would have to say the officials are very good. The game moves at such speed and the rules are so intricate and yet, most of the time, they are correct on even the bang bang plays.

    One – there are officials on the sidelines who appear to be out of shape. This is certainly an issue. I know of a few officials who stayed on way too long. I also know some who worked into their 60’s and were great. Age is not an issue if you stay prepared – just look at HL #5.

    Two- there are officials in the league that are subpar. Some are very subpar! They tend to be in the league due to nepotism or minority status. The league would never hire players in such a manner. Now, there are many good refs who have a connection (R 114 for example) and there are minority officials (HL 106 or 98) who are very good.

    Now, Mark, I will tell you my guess as to who Crusty is and you can tell me if he was on your short list – Dale Williams who was HL in the league for maybe 5 or 6 years and even did a super bowl along the way if I recall.

  61. Regarding the Cotchery catch, if replay is insufficient in order to overturn either ruling on the field, is it POSSIBLE that this play is the perfect shade of gray? No one knows what the men in stripes saw. One certainly sold the hell out of his call. I feel it is safe to say that all of them sell what they saw and do not guess at that. Too much training and experience for these men to BS about what they saw (after the fact).

    Players, coaches, fans, media, the whole universe has ALWAYS disagreed with calls made on the field of play. Get over it and yourselves. What short memories we have to suggest that ‘officiating is the worst it has even been’.

  62. Very interesting discussion, gentlemen. I have been experiencing gastric distress since the game Sunday before last (I AM a panthers fan) – been feelin kinda cheated. It all started with the Cotchery Catch. After reading this thread (and detailed analysis) tonight, I now feel REALLY cheated. But yet somehow less gastrically-distressed. Thank U for that…

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