NFL senior VP of officiating Dean Blandino reviewed the final play from Sunday’s game between the Bengals and the Ravens during his “Official Review” segment on the NFL Network (video). During the play, the Ravens players intentionally held the defenders to run out the clock before taking a safety. Football Zebras reported a “strong indication that this will be sorted out in the offseason.” Blandino confirmed that the play was properly officiated, and that the Competition Committee will likely look into such plays when they meet after the season.
To reiterate how the play should be called, officials have been told to consider this tactic a palpably unfair act, but only on the second occurrence in the game. This means that the first occurrence is a freebie, and the second occurrence is not likely. Blandino made no reference to this fact, despite being widely reported.
This was the second instance of that type of play this season, after the 49ers used a similar tactic while on the defensive side of the ball in their game against the Saints. The Ravens also executed a nearly identical play during Super Bowl XLVII, although no flag was thrown on the play. While these plays do happen, they are rare enough that the Competition Committee may not make any significant changes to the way those plays are officiated.
As for now, any warnings are reset every week, so the Ravens and 49ers are allowed to commit these intentional fouls without additional sanction, so long as they don’t do it more than once a game.