2016 NFC Championship
Follow us here for rolling coverage of the calls and rules interpretations of the Conference Championship game, the final game to be played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
If you have any questions or comments, use the comments section of this post, or tweet us @footballzebras.
Today’s crew is headed by Bill Vinovich.
|R||52||Bill Vinovich||12||San Diego||accountant, former NFL officiating supervisor|
|U||121||Paul King||8||Torbert||Nicholls State||school teacher|
|HL||28||Mark Hittner||20||Wrolstad||Pittsburg State||investment broker|
|LJ||10||Julian Mapp||8||Wrolstad||Grambling State||software QA tester|
|FJ||97||Tom Hill||18||Allen||Carson Newman||teacher|
|SJ||80||Greg Gautreaux||15||Torbert||SW Louisiana||athletic programs manager|
|BJ||93||Scott Helverson||14||Hochuli||Iowa||sales, printing and promotions|
- Replay: Paul Weidner
- Alternates: Walt Anderson (R), John McGrath (HL), Gary Cavaletto (SJ)
- January 22, 2017 - 6:16 pm 6:43 | 4th qtr. Packers TD — Jared Cook 1 yd. pass from Aaron Rodgers (2-pt run failed). ATL 44-21 key
- January 22, 2017 - 5:55 pm 12:07 | 4th qtr. Falcons TD — Tevin Coleman 3 yd. run (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 44-15 key
- January 22, 2017 - 5:54 pm :38 | 3rd qtr. Packers TD — Jordy Nelson 4 yd. pass from Aaron Rodgers (2-pt: Aaron Ripkowski run). ATL 37-15 key
- January 22, 2017 - 5:50 pm 3:33 | 3rd qtr. Booth review (turnover) — Interception. Call reversed: incomplete, ball touched ground before possession was secured. key
- January 22, 2017 - 5:38 pm 4:11 | 3rd qtr. Falcons TD — Devonta Freeman 4 yd. pass from Matt Ryan (kick wide right). ATL 37-7 key
- January 22, 2017 - 5:21 pm 9:19 | 3rd qtr. Packers TD — Davante Adams 2 yd. pass from Aaron Rodgers (Mason Crosby kick). ATL 31-7 key
- January 22, 2017 - 4:59 pm 13:51 | 3rd qtr. Falcons TD — Julio Jones 73 yd. pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 31-0 key
- January 22, 2017 - 4:52 pm :03 | 2nd qtr. Falcons TD — Julio Jones 5 yd. pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 24-0 key
- January 22, 2017 - 4:14 pm 7:24 | 2nd qtr. Falcons TD — Matt Ryan 14 yd. run (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 17-0 key
- January 22, 2017 - 3:40 pm :14 | 1st qtr. Falcons FG — Matt Bryant 28 yd. ATL 10-0 key
- January 22, 2017 - 3:19 pm 8:24 | 1st qtr. Falcons TD — Mohamed Sanu 2 yd. pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 7-0
Falcons 44-21, final
- Penalties, 12 — Packers 6/63 (+1 declined), Falcons 4/31 (+1 declined)
- Replays, 3 — Falcons challenge reversed, booth review reversed a turnover, booth review of touchdown confirmed
7:23 | 4th qtr. Robert Alford tries to draw a flag on Aaron Rodgers by taking a flop. Ironically, today’s referee, Bill Vinovich made some headlines a few seasons ago by saying there was no foul because the player took a flop.
When do they finalize Oscar nominations? And do they have a category for "Best Pratfall"? Robert Alford. Like something out of La La Land. pic.twitter.com/8QYT7Mlk94
— The MMQB (@theMMQB) January 22, 2017
7:23 | 4th qtr. Aaron Rodgers is flagged for a facemask foul on a run near the sideline, as Falcons cornerback Robert Alford loses his helmet. A runner (but not a defender) is allowed to make open-hand contact with the opponent’s facemask, however he may not grasp, twist, or control the facemask. In this case, it’s a clear call to make.
Rodgers adds a punctuation mark to the play, bumping Alford in the shoulder. Alford does deserve the Razzie award for Worst Performance in a Flopping Posture.
6:52 | 4th qtr. Side judge Greg Gautreaux flags Robert Alford of the Falcons for pass interference. This is similar to another DPI in the end zone called on the Packers in the 3rd quarter. Alford had his hands on the receiver, and while he was looking for the ball, his hand was grasping the receiver’s jersey and impeded his chance to catch the ball. Good flag by the veteran side judge.
Do you ever wonder why the official drops his bean bag at the spot of the interception? It is much more than to help the statistician. It is for potential penalty enforcement. For example: Team B intercepts the ball at their 40 yard line. During the return, Team B commits a block in the back foul at the 50 yard line. Team A commits a face mask foul on the tackle at the 10 yard line. Since both fouls happened after the interception (double foul after change of possession), the officials bring the ball back to the 40 yard line and give the ball to Team B at the spot of the interception. So, when an interception happens, the official has to remember to “bag the spot.”
2:44 | 3rd qtr. Great example of crew communication and a good decision to pick up the flag for unnecessary roughness for the hit on Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers did not slide feet first, and therefore does not get protection as a defenseless player.
2:52 | 3rd qtr. No flag for a hit on quarterback Aaron Rodgers because he did not slide feet first. For protections, he must slide feet first. If he doesn’t he loses all the protections afforded a runner in that situation. More here.
— Fᴏᴏᴛʙᴀʟʟ Zᴇʙʀᴀs (@footballzebras) January 22, 2017
5:50 | 3rd qtr. The Packers were flagged for defensive pass interference. The Packers defender jumped into the wide receiver before getting his head around to play the ball. Contact appeared to be intentional.
9:19 | 3rd qtr. The Packers were assessed a delay of game on the kickoff following their score. The play clock runs as soon as the back judge hands off the ball to the kicker, but he can’t kick it right away. The referee then gives a chop signal to the kicker when it may be put into play, once the back judge has gotten into position. This means the kicking team has roughly 10-15 seconds to kick off. This doesn’t give the kicking team an opportunity to audible at this time, as they’ve had the entire commercial break to get the play set.
So, a little bit of officiating minutae here. As mentioned earlier, referee Bill Vinovich had to leave the field due to a heart condition. Line judge Julian Mapp was hired while Vinovich was working as an officiating supervisor, and given Vinovich’s number 52.
In the 2012 season, the officials returned after their lockout with Mapp wearing his number 52. Vinovich returned to the field after his medical leave the following week. Vinovich got his number 52 back, and Mapp’s number went to 10.
8:24 | 3rd qtr. Julio Jones overcomes a holding penalty by LeDarious Gunter and the Super Bowl party begins early in Atlanta. As Jones starts running his route, Gunter grabs a handful of jersey and momentarily throws him off stride. The defender can contact (or “chuck”) the receiver within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but he can never hold the receiver trying to run a pass route. The flag most likely came from back judge Scott Helverson or possibly field judge Tom Hill.
Falcons 24-0, halftime
- Penalties, 3 — Packers 1/15, Falcons 2/10.
- Replays, 0 (although ….).
15:00 | 3rd qtr. This game might be over. The Packers might make a miraculous comeback for the ages. No matter what happens, the officials must work the game like it is a tie. If both teams start going through the motions, that is when frustrations boil over and cheap shots start. If the officials think the game is over and the Packers make a comeback, they could be caught flat-footed. Focus is the key.
10:59 | 2nd qtr. The fumble recovery and touchback ruling is its own post.
10:59 | 2nd qtr. A nice drive by the Packers ends on a fumble recovered by the Falcons in the end zone. The Falcons player’s leg was touching the end zone when he secured possession, so it was a touchback, instead of Falcons’ ball at the one yard line.
Gained possession with left leg touching the goal line so it is a touchback. Momentum and ball at 1-yd line if body part not in EZ.
— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) January 22, 2017
10:11 | 2nd qtr. Nice call by line judge Julian Mapp on a Falcons’ toe-tapping catch.
5:35 | 1st qtr. GB — Mason Crosby missed a 41-yd. field goal. ATL 7-0.
8:25 | 1st qtr. Looks like a good call for unnecessary roughness by LJ Julian Mapp. Although it is not illegal to block a receiver when the quarterback is out of the pocket, it appeared that the play was over when the contact occurred.
In addition to being a certified public accountant, Vinovich is a Division I basketball referee.
The 12 seasons Vinovich has been an official are not consecutive, as Vinovich was sidelined with an aortic aneurysm in 2006. He left the field to work in the league office as an officiating supervisor and grader. Doctors gave Vinovich a clean bill of health, and he returned to the field after the 2012 labor impasse with the referee’s union.
Vinovich was hired by the NFL in 2001, making this his 16th season of NFL service.
Bill Vinovich is in his 12th season as an NFL official, 9th as referee. This is his 9th postseason assignment and 3rd Conference Championship. He has also worked 2 Wild Card Playoffs, 3 Divisional Playoffs, and Super Bowl XLIX.
This is the third consecutive season Vinovich has worked a Conference Championship or a Super Bowl.
60°, fog/mist, 90% of thunderstorms
Tornado watch in effect until 8 p.m.
This is the final game in the Georgia Dome, so the outside weather will be largely irrelevant to the game, unless there is a need for people to take shelter.
Next season, the Falcons will be have a retractable roof on their stadium. While the decision to close the roof would be academic under these conditions, the league controls all aspects of the game, and the commissioner (or his designate) makes the final decision on the position of the roof.