Officiating video: Why roughness is the right call for an unabated attack

Senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino released his weekly media tape (below), which began with the most controversial call — or no-call — of the week. In the Bills-Seahawks game, a defender jumped offside and had an impeded path to the kicker. The play was blown dead but due to the stadium noise, the players continued to play and the defender touched the ball and ran into the kicker’s plant leg. Touching the ball does not negate a roughing the kicker penalty when the ball hasn’t even been kicked’; the ball has to be touched in flight. But since it was not a live play, it should have been unnecessary roughness. (Roughing the kicker only applies to a live play.) Football Zebras mentioned this as it happened, and Blandino also tweeted this fact.

Also from the Monday night game, once the quarterback leaves the pocket, all rules regarding illegal contact cease to exist until he presents himself as a passer again. The theory is that once the quarterback becomes a potential runner, the receivers become potential blockers and defenders have to be able to use whatever means available to shed blocks. Only defensive holding still applies.

Blandino also covered instant replay criteria. In the Colts-Packers game, the officials ruled that a defender touched a loose ball while he was out of bounds and possession reverts back to the fumbling team. The Colts challenged the ruling since there was a clear recovery, but picked up their challenge flag, which was granted by the crew. The referee miscommunicated the circumstances of the “immediate recovery” provision that was necessary by rule, which made it seem unreviewable to Colts coach Chuck Pagano. Had it been reviewed, the ruling on the field would have stood, as there was no clear evidence to overturn the ruling that an out-of-bounds player touched the loose ball.

Also with instant replay, a fumble by the Jaguars at the goal line and recovered by the Chiefs in the end zone was reviewed but do to no clear and obvious evidence, the fumble call stands (see Sunday’s liveblog). In review, replay officials are not able to determine if the player had possession while he crossed the plane of the goal line and they cannot use still frame images to determine if a player does or does not have control. Ruled a fumble, call stands.

In the Steelers-Ravens game, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell whiffed on the onside kick, and as the ball came to a rest 1 yard in front of the tee, he kicked it downfield again and it was recovered by the kicking team. As we covered in our liveblog, several fouls were in play:

  • illegally kicking a live ball, enforced 10 yards from the spot of the kick and forces a re-kick
  • illegal touch because the kicker touched a ball that didn’t go 10 yards; return team can take the spot of the foul and no re-kick.
  • a short free kick could have been ruled if the ball was ruled dead before the second kick, and the receiving team would take the ball at the spot of the foul plus 5 yards.

The illegal kick was declined and the illegal touch was accepted, taking the ball at the 36.

Lastly, from last night’s Browns-Ravens game, a Browns defender intercepted a pass and his momentum carried into the end zone and out of bounds. Prior to 1955, this would be a safety. However, this is an exception to the safety rule. If a player’s original momentum carries him into the end zone, then it’s not a safety, as we covered in a post last July. If player catches the ball in the field of play, tries to avoid a defender, and gets tackled in the end zone, it’s a safety. In this case, the defender knee comes down in the field of play and his momentum carried him into the end zone. It then becomes Browns ball at the 1-yard line, the spot where his second foot (or, in this case, his knee) comes down.

3 thoughts on “Officiating video: Why roughness is the right call for an unabated attack

  1. Regarding the Browns interception: if it is deemed that defender was down by contact, then the spot it would be at the 1 yd. But shouldn’t then the WR be penalized for OPI? If my eyes don’t lie, WR pushed defender in his back. Shouldn+t then that be enforced from 1 yd line, puting Browns on 16 yd line?
    If defender wasn’t down by contact, shouldn’t this be a touchback?

  2. Andrej – for the first part, standard push-in-the-back OPI is a 10-yard penalty, not a 15-yard personal foul that can be carried over. If an OPI had been called and the Browns had accepted it, the Ravens would have gotten the ball back, 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage that existed before the interception.

    I would expect that if the WR committed OPI that was also a personal foul (such as facemasking), then that personal foul could be carried over. This would be the inverse of the situation that happened in the Miami-San Diego game on Sunday, where the defender committed defensive pass interference against the receiver by facemasking and both fouls were enforced (spot of the interference plus an added 15 yards). Perhaps Football Zebras could confirm this.

    As for the defender not being down by contact, I think Rich explained it pretty well. Not sure if this will help, but I’ll add that because the ball was possessed by the defender fully within the field of play, it removes the potential responsibility of the offense (the Ravens in this case) for the ball being dead in the end zone. As Rich noted, years ago the fact that the ball became dead in the end zone when the Browns defender went out of bounds with it would have been scored as a safety for the Ravens. The ball being placed at the spot of possession for the Browns outside the end zone is the acknowledgment of the rules that there was no real way for the Browns to both get the interception and not end up with the ball being dead in the end zone, and thus the Browns should not be punished with a safety being scored for the Ravens. Or, as Blandino put it, the Browns should not be punished for their defender making a great play.

    Had the pass instead been thrown into the end zone and the Browns defender intercepted it before either going out of bounds in the end zone or being touched down by a member of the Ravens in the end zone in the immediate continuing action, then it would have been a touchback (assuming no fouls by the Browns, of course).

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