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NewsCascading errors hit Anderson crew in final seconds of the half

Cascading errors hit Anderson crew in final seconds of the half

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Week 9: Bills at Seahawks (video)

With 3 seconds remaining in the first half on Monday night in Seattle, what appeared to be a routine end-of-half field goal became anything but. After the discussions revolving around Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner’s leaping tactics a few weeks ago, this time it was teammate Richard Sherman who started the chaos tonight. Sherman jumped offside, and as the play was being blown dead he plowed into Bills kicker Dan Carpenter. The whistle being late could excuse minor contact, but a major hit to a kicker’s plant leg should not be ignored.

It is important to note that this cannot be a roughing-the-kicker foul, because we do not have a legal snap. Therefore, the provision of touching the ball negating the contact does not apply, either. This may only be penalized under the general unnecessary roughness categories.

In a postgame interview with a pool reporter, referee Walt Anderson, who has primary duties keying the kicker, said about the lack of a flag, “We were shutting the play down, that would be my call.  I just didn’t feel like the actions and the contact, because we were shutting the play down, warranted a foul.”

Although Sherman should have been hit with an unnecessary roughness foul, he was only called for being offside. Senior vice-president of officiating Dean Blandino confirmed the error shortly after the play. 

Carpenter was hurt on the play, and because the roughness foul was not called Carpenter had to sit out for a play. The Bills were also charged a timeout for the injury. Because they were out of timeouts, the Bills were charged with an excess timeout, although there is no penalty for the first excess timeout. The Bills spiked that ball for Carpenter’s “bench” play, and set up for another field goal.

The craziness, however, was not over.

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The play clock was correctly set to 40 seconds, but the Bills were called for delay of game after umpire Butch Hannah held the snap late in the play clock. The reason is not clear, as there is no substitution issue, but it might have been due to spotting the designated kicking ball for the field goal attempt.

The flag was thrown by the back judge several seconds after the clock expired. The only possible explanation is that the back judge held the clock for the minimum 10 seconds after the umpire came off the ball, although the clock really should have been reset to 25 seconds.

Anderson also admitted that he was unaware of the play clock winding down and should have given the Bills a fresh 25.

Any time we end up with the teams coming out, we end up putting a regular ball out, bringing in the kicking ball, we will hold up the play, just for the teams to get their substitutes in and then we will move off the ball.  If there was that little time left, then that’s probably a mistake on my part in terms of not pumping the play clock back up.  But, I was not aware that it was that far into the play clock.

After all that, Carpenter missed the kick and the half ended.

Anderson generally runs a tight ship but these are major crew errors, especially in a nationally televised Monday night game. By missing the roughness penalty on Sherman, Anderson caused the Bills to have to run an extra play, and cost the Bills several yards in field position which eventually led to a missed field goal.

This post was edited by Ben Austro to add postgame comments.

Pool interview with referee Walt Anderson

Q: (On the sequence of the play at the end of the first half, on why the play wasn’t blown dead for unabated to the kicker.)

Anderson: It was.  We were blowing it dead for unabated to the kicker, that is what the foul was.

Q: (On why there was no roughing foul for hitting the kicker.)

Anderson: We were shutting the play down, that would be my call.  I just didn’t feel like the actions and the contact, because we were shutting the play down, warranted a foul.

Q: (On the sequence of the trainer coming on the field.)  

Anderson: With the trainer coming on, and Buffalo out of timeouts, we end up having an injury time out.  Even though they were out of time outs, it counts as a fourth time out.  There is no penalty assessed, unless you get to the fifth one, for that, but it does require him to go out for one play.

Q: (On whether that applies to any player at any time if a trainer comes out.)  

Anderson: Correct.

Q: (On standing over the ball until 3 or 4 seconds left on the play clock.)  

Anderson: Any time we end up with the teams coming out, we end up putting a regular ball out, bringing in the kicking ball, we will hold up the play, just for the teams to get their substitutes in and then we will move off the ball.  If there was that little time left, then that’s probably a mistake on my part in terms of not pumping the play clock back up.  But, I was not aware that it was that far into the play clock.

Q: (On how he determines whether it is roughing a kicker after an unabated situation.)

Anderson: We didn’t end up having a kick, so one of the things we’re just looking for is does the player have a chance to realize that we’re shutting the play down from that standpoint and whether or not he has an opportunity to avoid any type of contact once he realizes that we’re getting the play shut down.  I know it was loud out there for everybody.  That’s probably what took us a little bit of time to get everything shut down.  But that’s what we’re looking at.  Does the contact rise to the level where we feel like it was clearly avoidable, and rose to the level of a personal foul.

Q: (On whether he determined that Sherman couldn’t have told that the play was blown dead.)  

Anderson: Well, that’s just what it looked like to me.

20 thoughts on “Cascading errors hit Anderson crew in final seconds of the half

  1. That’s horrific. These kind of mistakes make me want to throw up. THIS KIND OF CRAP IS COSTING TEAMS AND COMMUNITIES GAMES!!

  2. More home-cooking for the Seahawks from the NFL. I’d like to see a tally of all the bad calls that have benefited the Seahawks over the years. All things being equal, the Bills could have been lining up to tie the game at the end of regulation with a FG. The delay of game call was bogus and being called out on Twitter.

    Some folks on the Internet have tried to conjecture that Sherman’s hit was “legal” because he touched the ball first. I’d to see that question addressed.

    The fact that Blandino tweeted this out DURING the game told me he must have thought it was a very bad miss by the officials and was trying to prevent pitchforks and torches on Park Ave.

  3. Looks like #25 makes contact with the ball before making contact with #2. If so, then no roughness penalty should be called.

  4. Nice summary reports, and great headline, Patrick/Ben. This was a rough sequence for the refs: a case of “cascading errors”–in which one boo-boo gets amplified into a potentially game-altering incident.

  5. The officiating crew blew and they should be suspended for a couple of games if not indefinitely. The NFL can’t figured out why they are losing fans. With calls like this on small market teams?

    @Ian…really? LOL maybe touched the ball after he tried to break the kickers leg. Sherman will be fined severely!

  6. The ball was dead due to the offside by Sherman. UNR PF. Wassn’t it Anderson that botched the non-call on Newton in the pocket last week?

  7. I’ve been a season ticket holder (Vikings) for years but am considering giving up the NFL completely. The officials are deciding the outcomes of so many games, it is frustrating. One team gets a 15 yard penalty for spiking a ball in celebration and Richard “Dick” Sherman gets a cheap shot at a kickers knee on a dead play and nothing? One quarterback gets every call and one doesn’t get any. Pass interference is called different for every team and every game. They say viewership is down, this would be why I drop off. Sad

  8. Did anyone here actually expect the part-timers to get something right? Coaches lose jobs because of things like this, while the NFL part timers get.. what.. no playoff assignment? $160K+ a year for a joke of a game.

  9. The entire situation was handled poorly. A veteran official like Walt Anderson should’ve handled it better. He is also a college supervisor of officials. Just wondering how he would’ve handled this if one of his Referees did what he did? Can you say S U S P E N S I O N!!!

  10. I can somehow understand why Anderson decided not to throw a flag for UNR on Sherman, although I think it was.

    But I think that delay of game thing is on the league/rules commitee. When and how to reset the play clock, has been quite dubious to me for years. What is the purpose of having a running play clock in such kicking situations when it can be reset quite arbitrarily by the officials? To me, the better solution would be to write a precise rule when to suspend the play clock instead of resetting it at some random point.

    There are even more confusing situations with the game clock running and the play clock being reset at some point (although the effect on the outcome of the game might be somewhat less severe). Then, the preceding of a play might take an unpredictable amount of time off the clock. And additionally, nobody knows what happened and why the play clock has been reset.

  11. NFL officiating. What a joke. Sherman deliberately targeted the kickers leg at his most vulnerable position, and no flag for unnecessary roughness? I was not watching the game because I watch very little NFL anymore ( because the games suck and the officiating is even worse, plus all the commercials and time outs…)…..but looking at the replay I was shocked to see Sherman hit the kicker that way. And even more shocked (but not surprised) that the officials did not throw a flag on Sherman.

    And is it any wonder the officials got in the way of the play again because they literally can’t or won’t move faster?

  12. I agree the crew made a dog’s breakfast of this, especially with the second part (resetting the playclock). That said, if #25 couldn’t hear the whistle (which if you’ve been to Century Link seems likely enough and was the judgment of the official), then he shouldn’t be flagged for a UNR for what otherwise would be a LEGAL play (if no whistle occurred). That is my understanding and take at any rate.

  13. The entire thing was the worst NFL officiating debacle since the replacement refs, ironically in a stadium notorious for Monday night officiating debacles. Absurd that Walt Anderson to screwed up in the basic administration of the game by not bumping the play clock to 25 seconds after standing over the ball until 5 seconds were left on the play clock. On replay, you can see him stepping back and signaling to start the play clock, but he never signals the bump. Even though he failed to signal the bump, the clock administrator should have either stopped the play clock or bumped to 25 when he signaled to start the play clock. Then the fact that the BJ throws the flag for delay of game, and the referees fail to conference to correct the obvious administrative error is even more frustrating. How on Earth did none of the 7 officials notice that the play clock was not reset? How was it not possible for the officials to be alerted to this obvious fact by, say, the league radioing in to the officials?

    That embarrassing gaffe was on top of Anderson erring on the Sherman unnecessary roughness penalty, a blatent infraction that was not flagged despite the fact that the officials felt the need to throw numerous ticky-tack flags on defensive pass interference and holding that appeared extremely minor by comparison. Also extremely poor optics for the league to send off an injured player for a play following an unnecessary roughness infraction. If Sherman’s collision after the whistle is not a penalty, what is the point of all the excessive flags on minor contact and celebrations which are supposedly in the name of “player safety” and “conduct”?

    Just an absolute joke in a year where the NFL seems determined to make the officials, rather than the players, the stars of the game. And it ruined a rare good prime time game at that.

  14. Walt Anderson is a joke of an official. Its a total shame that his debacle effects the outcome of the game. The NFL needs to put into place a way to correct these mistakes by the crew when the entire MNF viewers are watching this unfold and commentators calling them out…..but the NFL experts can’t radio down and correct the error. If the NFL does not suspend this crew then they are losing another view in me. Once again Buffalo and REX get the shaft.

  15. Sherm should have gotten the Unnecessary Roughness penalty, but I’m not sold on Carpenter being all that injured. He rolled around like he was shot, but a moment later, he was up and walking around, getting ready for the kick. Sorta like watching soccer players go down, roll around, then pop right back up and get into the play. Seems to me he was trying to sell it.

    Having said that, though, the trainer coming out was right, and if the UR penalty was called, he would have stayed in without having to come out for a play.

  16. The legality of the spike should probably get a mention in the article (it appears to have been legal), given the confusion over it on PFT.

  17. I’ve watched this play over and over, and unless the sound is mismatched from the video, to me it looked like the whistle didn’t blow until Sherman was on the ground in front of the kicker reaching for the ball, with no way to stop himself at that point. It SHOULD have been whistled dead much earlier, that’s on the refs, but given that there wasn’t a whistle I can’t see where Sherman should have stopped and how it could have drawn UNR. Had the whistle been on time, absolutely UNR. He also clearly touches the ball, although there is no angle I can find that shows if he touched it before or after the whistle, but it would have all been happening around the same time.

    The weird thing for me is that I haven’t seen more about the timing of the whistle and what that would have meant for Sherman in that play with regards to stopping himself. They’re told to play to the whistle, no exceptions.

    The delay of game nonsense, utter bumbling by the crew. The whole thing was a catastrophe by the refs.

  18. Techvet, there cannot be enough calls in the Seahawks’ favor after the officiating debacle known as Super Bowl XL. The blown calls in that game led me to believe that Leavy was being paid by the Rooneys. I still have that in the back of my mind. Leavy did go to Seattle in 2010 and spoke at training camp to the effect that he did blow a few calls and that it still bothered him. Yeah, but not nearly as much as it did this Seahawks fan. I feel that they are still owed a few more calls just to break even. (The Fail Mary helped a little, yes it did.)

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