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Officiating Dept. VideoWeek 5 officiating video: Fumbles and catch calls at the goal line

Week 5 officiating video: Fumbles and catch calls at the goal line

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In this week’s officiating video, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino discussed, first and foremost, player safety. An injury that occurred in the Buccaneers versus Panthers Monday night game required a medical timeout. Body language is a tipoff and the ATC spotter (certified medical trainer) upstairs is looking for certain behaviors that would prompt a medial timeout. In this instance, a Buccaneers offensive lineman tried to get back into his stance after being hit in the head and had difficulty doing so, leading the ATC spotter to determine a medical timeout was necessary. They have to remain out for one play and have to be evaluated by sideline medical staff. If the play occurs inside two minutes, an injured player triggers a charged team timeout but when the ATC spotter signals a medical timeout, the team is not charged.

Blandino also discussed instant replay review of turnovers. Late in the Eagles-Lions game, an Eagles fumble was recovered by the Lions defense. As we discussed on Sunday, the play went to review and the officials were looking to see if the player out of bounds clearly touched the ball. It was ruled on the field that the Eagles lineman did not touch it and there was not sufficient video evidence to overturn the call of a legal fumble recovery by the Lions defense.  

Among several other instances discussed in the video, Blandino discussed the impetus rule. In the Redskins-Ravens game, the Ravens defense intercepted a pass and the defender fumbled it out of bounds through the end zone on the ensuing runback. The play was ruled a touchback. Impetus is the force that puts the ball into the end zone, and if a team provides the impetus, they are responsible for it. If the ball goes out of bounds and is not recovered, it’s a touchback. The fumbling team is responsible for recovering their own ball. This rule has been reviewed by the Competition Committee several times and has remained as it has for over a century. The reason that the Ravens are “penalized” harshly for fumbling into their end zone was explained: since the Ravens could have recovered the fumble in the end zone and gotten a touchdown, the inverse means there should be an equivalent negative. Blandino also stated that, by the fumble going out of bounds, that Washington had successfully defended their goal.

Also from the Buccaneers game, Blandino discussed the 2-point conversion try. A Buccaneers receiver caught the two point conversion and bobbled it. For the two-point conversion to count (and, similarly, a touchdown), the receiver has to control the catch when he has broken the plane of the goal. The Buccaneers receiver secured the ball and broke the plane of the goal line before contact drove him backwards into the field of play. Replay officials are looking to see 1) where he secured it and 2) if he secured it before coming back into the field of play. Had he bobbled it after contact, the two point try would not have counted. The process of the catch may continue to establish the catch, which, when successful, reverts back to the point where control part of the process was established.

Lastly, from the Monday night game, Blandino covered the 10 second runoff rule. Two false starts occurred at the end of the first half in the Panthers Monday night game, one with a running clock at 15 seconds left and one with the clocked stopped at 10 seconds left. On the first, any offensive foul that prevents the snap would normally trigger a 10 second runoff of the clock. The officiating crew asks if the defense wants the runoff, which they can decline and accept the penalty. The clock resets to the time of the foul. If the defense declines the penalty, they cannot get the runoff. In the second instance, the clock is stopped at 10 seconds remaining in the half. In this instance, there is no runoff because the clock is not running prior to the snap. The automatic five yard penalty for false start is enforced and the clock is reset to 10 seconds.

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