Dean Blandino released his weekly officiating today for week 13. In it, he discussed the catch/no-catch rule from a play in last night’s Raiders vs Chiefs game. A Raiders receiver appeared to catch a pass and fumbled while he was going to the ground. The play was ruled a fumble but overturned to an incomplete pass because the replay official determined the runner was going to the ground after the initial catch and did not complete the process of the catch. Briefly, if a runner is going to the ground, he must maintain control of the ball after the catch for it to be considered a completion.
In a play from last week’s Thursday night game, a Vikings punt returner fumbled as he was being tackled by a Cowboys defender. The ruling on the field was the runner was down by contact. The Cowboys challenged whether the Vikings returner fumbled it and video evidence showed that the ball came out before his knees hit the ground. At this point Blandino stressed that once a play goes to review, they will look at all other reviewable aspects:
When we go into replay, we will look at all reviewable aspects. So, if the team challenged that the player fumbled it and their player recovered it and we see something else that’s reviewable, then we’re going to look at that aspect as well.
In this case, the other reviewable aspect after determining the runner fumbled was whether the runner regained possession after he fumble. Replay determined the Vikings returner did not have clear possession in the attempt to secure the ball before losing control to the Cowboys defender. The call was overturned and possession went to the Cowboys at the spot of the recovery.
Also from the Cowboys-Vikings game, Blandino covered the quarterback slide. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott scrambled and was given a first down after he appeared to slide beyond the line to gain. The play was reviewed and officials determined he contacted the ground with his knee prior to the ball crossing the line to gain, about 1 yard short. When a quarterback slides feet first, he is gaining additional protections from unnecessary contact (unless contact is imminent, a new point of emphasis). In exchange for these protections, the quarterback is giving up the ability to advance the ball once he contacts the ground with any body part other than the hands or feet. The call was overturned and the Cowboys faced a 3rd and 1 after that.
In the Giants-Steelers game, a Steelers player engaged a Giants punt team defender for a block, disengaged, and was pushed by another Giants player into the ball. By rule, a passive player pushed or blocked into a loose ball is as if that player never touched the ball and therefore the kicking team cannot legally take possession. The play on the field was ruled Steelers ball, because by ignoring the Steelers touch, it was considered a downed punt.
Lastly, Blandino covered officiating coverage areas of responsibility on extra points and field goals. The side judge and the umpire line up in the defensive back field. The umpire also covers potential line jumps between the A-gaps. The umpire covers the long snapper to the tackle. The side judge covers the opposite A-gap to the C-gap. The head linesman and the line judge focus on the ends and wings. The referee will cover the overload end, the holder, and the kicker and be watching for contact on the kicker.
Acting as a cohesive unit, the side judge and the head linesman in the Raven vs Dolphins game immediately flagged a Dolphins defensive lineman for an illegal pull-and-shoot on a Ravens blocker. A pull-and-shoot occurs when the defensive lineman pulls on their blocker and allows another defender to shoot that vacated gap created by the hold. This a penalty for defensive holding, 5 yards and an automatic first down.