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CallsSuper Bowl LI liveblog: Patriots vs. Falcons

Super Bowl LI liveblog: Patriots vs. Falcons

Follow us here and through the game for our live coverage of the calls and rules interpretations of Super Bowl LI from NRG Stadium in Houston.

This will conclude our coverage of our eighth full season, and we have four new writers completing their first with us: Cam Filipe, Matt Holmquist, Patrick Weber, and Rich Madrid. We will have our all-star crew on the game which also includes Marcus Griep, Josh Lewis, assistant editor Mark Schultz, and editor-in-chief Ben Austro.

Carl Cheffers is the referee for Super Bowl LI. His all-star crew includes:

      Yrs 2016 crew College Occupation
R 51 Carl Cheffers 17   California-Irvine sales manager
U 64 Dan Ferrell 14 Corrente Cal State-Fullerton director, parts logistics and supply chain management
HL 79 Kent Payne 13 Cheffers Nebraska Wesleyan teacher
LJ 45 Jeff Seeman 15 Parry Minnesota brokerage sales
FJ 67 Doug Rosenbaum 16 Morelli Illinois Wesleyan financial consultant
SJ 109 Dyrol Prioleau 10 Triplette Johnson C Smith manager, law firm
BJ 30 Todd Prukop 8 Corrente Cal State-Fullerton medical sales representative
ALT R Walt Coleman 28   Arkansas manager dairy processor
ALT U Tony Michalek 15 Hussey Indiana USA Football officiating director
ALT LoS Mike Spanier 18 (swing) St Cloud State middle school principal
ALT DEEP Michael Banks 15 Vinovich Illinois State carpenter foreman
ALT BJ Greg Yette 7 Torbert Howard defense contractor
  • Replay official: Tom Sifferman (Hochuli)
  • Replay assistant: Marvin LeBlanc (Houston-based)
  • Supervisor: Gary Slaughter
  • Observers: Dean Blandino, Al Riveron

Image: Football Zebras graphic by Chad Young, photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images Sport

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 6, 20173:43 am

Despite some isolated situations — each with their own mitigating factors — this was definitely a solid crew for a game for the ages. I’m going to echo my colleagues that Jeff Seeman came to this game to kick some ass, and he did. On the juggled catch by Julian Edleman, he came in to signal emphatically that the catch was made. It was the call that the Patriots used to counter the David Tyree catch against them as a rarely disputed “best ever Super Bowl play” in a victory that the Patriots countered that same defeat with the newly crowned “best ever Super Bowl.”

Carl Cheffers had an outstanding day leading the crew who all brought their best into the game, and with their experience, that says a lot. Three officials previously earned Super Bowl rings. This ring will be one to be especially proud of.

Jeff Seeman is the son of the late Jerry Seeman, who was a Super Bowl referee and the head of officiating prior to Mike Pereira. The elder Seeman, to encapsulate his contribution to the game succinctly, is the only official whose jersey number has been retired. He obviously imparted a great deal of wisdom to his son and was here in some way for one more Super Bowl.

It is fitting that, on the game of Jeff Seeman’s career, he had this view on the final play of the game. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 6, 20173:26 am

11:49 | OT. Okay, to address the big elephant in the room, yes, there is a chop block that occurs on the swing pass that gets the Patriots inside the red zone. (Look at the block in the video that occurs at the 26-yard line.) This unfortunately slipped through, but it was coincidental timing that factored into the non-call.

It is clear that the engagement is high/low, which would draw a flag. This season, the Competition Committee threw out most of the exceptions to the chop block rule; only if the Falcons player initiates the high contact is this not a chop block, which does not apply here.

Typically, a chop block occurs on the line, but as seen in the video below, it is also possible in the open field.

Line judge Jeff Seeman would have picked that up, if not for the fact that he is the primary on the catch. The chop occurs far enough from the ball, that, by the time he’s able to look upfield, he sees a player is blocked, but can’t rule on a chop. The field judge or back judge could have called this also, but that depends on the view they have. The head linesman seems to have too many bodies in the way to get a good look at it.

If the umpire was positioned in his traditional location behind the linebackers, this has the best chance of being called. I don’t know if the middle judge position being proposed by the league would have picked this up from 20 yards away, but it appears this would be at least the MJ’s key.

With seven officials and happening a fraction of a second later, and this is probably a flag, because Seeman is seen turning his head upfield just in time to see the aftermath of contact, and not the illegal contact itself.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 6, 20173:03 am

:57 | 4th qtr. There was a question on a potential offensive pass interference on the game-tying two-point conversion. While there was a fair amount of contact at the goal line (which squarely places it beyond the 1-yard zone for legal contact), the two receivers were also being blocked simultaneously. This mutual engagement wipes out a call of pass interference in either direction.

In the NFL there cannot be offensive pass interference behind the line of scrimmage, but, unlike the NCAA, it does not matter if the pass crosses the line of scrimmage. The fact that this was a swing pass does not factor into a foul/no foul.

video (at :38)

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 6, 20172:39 am

3:50 | 4th qtr. With the Falcons holding an 8-point lead and attempting to maintain field-goal range, the Falcons faced a 3rd and 23 with a potential 52-yard field goal if they don’t gain any yardage. Matt Ryan connected with receiver Mohamed Sanu to make it 9 yards closer. Offensive tackle Jake Matthews had a very obvious hold, which was called by Cheffers, with shades of the call he made in the divisional playoffs.

At the end of the play, Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan lost his helmet, and the reason why was apparent on the replay. Sanu initiated contact with Ryan’s facemask legally with an open hand — a runner is permitted to do this as long as he doesn’t grasp, twist, or control the facemask. It appears that Sanu’s glove got caught, because his hand remains open, yet he tugs at the facemask with a few fingers. Occasionally, these inadvertent finger tugs can be waived off if there is a small amount of pulling, but in this case the force of the pull is enough to draw a flag.

Ryan also grabbed the helmet opening of Sanu, which is illegal under the same facemask rule. The head linesman didn’t have an angle to see these infractions, and the field judge should be able to offer some support here (although, I don’t have an angle that gives me his perspective).

The Patriots accepted the holding call, but if two facemask fouls were called, everything would offset, and the 3rd & 23 would be repeated.

Patrick Weber Patrick Weber February 5, 201711:41 pm

Super Bowl LI turned out to be a fantastic game, and the seven men that made up the on-field officiating crew were up to the task. It’s already been mentioned below, but line judge Jeff Seeman really stood out to me as having an absolutely fantastic game. Referee Carl Cheffers was also outstanding leading his crew in his first Super Bowl, allowing the game to run nearly seamlessly from start to finish.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 201711:10 pm

I am interested to hear what, if anything, the NFL says about that potential chop block. If it was a miss, it was the only miss of the game. This was, in my opinion, the best officiated Super Bowl game ever. Super Bowls XLII, XLIII and XLIV all had outstanding calls, but this game forced the crew to make extremely difficult calls right after the other. Not only did the crew nail tough sideline and catch calls, they also made gutsy holding and pass interference calls. Each and every member of the crew can be proud of their efforts, but a special recognition goes to Jeff Seeman for reasons Cameron outlined below.

Matt Holmquist Matt Holmquist February 5, 201711:07 pm

Super Bowl LI was a very smoothly officiated game in which Carl Cheffers and crew obviously had things under control. Preferring to handle player conduct mostly through preventative officiating, the crew chose to pass on a couple close hits out of bounds (one per team with almost equal timing elements), but immediately the players were given a warning by the crew. There were other evidences of the preventative control, such as side judge Doug Rosenbaum dropping his beanbag at his out of bounds spot on a punt to go break up a tense situation out bounds. The teams’ passing yards accounted for about 73% of the game’s total yardage, and the officials were staunch defenders of a legal passing game: defensive secondary fouls were spot on, with clear pass interference and defensive holding calls. The crew nailed the big calls and intense situations, as well as taking care of the little things throughout.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 201711:01 pm

Here was my original opening sentence of the postgame recap, which I wrote just after the second half started: “In a game where the score was out of control for all of the 60 minutes, the exact opposite can be said about the officiating.” Well, scratch that – the former of the two statements, anyway. Carl Cheffers and his all-star crew had a handle on this game from start to finish. After a nearly penalty-free first quarter, the crew started letting the flags fly, including three third down defensive holding fouls to give New England new life – and they were all correct. Replay was not much of a factor, and aside from a potential miss late in the game, it can be safely said that the officiating crew had a wonderful game. If any one official on this crew can be singled out for their performance tonight, it should be line judge Jeff Seeman. He had the game of his life – nailing two tight catch calls, a late pass interference call, and being able to hoist his arms on the game winning touchdown in overtime. Congratulations to all seven men; their efforts on the field tonight deserve that ring.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 201710:55 pm

11:49 | Overtime. On a swing pass setting up the first and 10 at the 15-yard line, there appeared to be a chop block on the Patriots at the 25-yard line. A chop block is either a delayed or simultaneous block where two offensive players block at defender high and at the thigh or below.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 201710:48 pm

Patriots 34-28, final, OT

Penalties, 15. New England 4/23 (+3 declined), Atlanta 9/65.

Replays, 3. Two Atlanta challenges (one call reversed, one call confirmed), booth review inside 2:00 (call confirmed).

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 201710:28 pm

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 201710:26 pm
11:02 | OT Patriots TD — James White 2 yd. run. NE 34-28 key

That’s your game!

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 201710:15 pm

First ever Super Bowl overtime coin toss! New England selected “heads”. The coin came up on “heads”. New England elected to receive.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 201710:15 pm

In case you’re wondering, the longest overtime playoff game was 82:40 in the Christmas Day, 1971 Chiefs-Dolphins AFC Divisional Playoff.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 201710:15 pm

Overtime rules

  • Timing rules as if it is the first quarter.
  • Each team gets 3 timeouts for the first
  • If the first team to possess scores a field goal on the first possession, overtime continues
  • Otherwise, first score wins
  • If the score is tied after one 15:00 overtime, a second overtime is started as if the second quarter starts

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 201710:07 pm
:57 | 4th qtr. Patriots TD — James White 1 yd. run (2-pt good). Tied 28-28 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 201710:04 pm

2:03 | 4th qtr.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 201710:01 pm

Jeff Seeman having the game of his life.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 201710:00 pm
2:03 | 4th qtr. (video pending) Falcons challenge — Completed catch. Call confirmed. key

Line judge Jeff Seeman is having the game of his life. An amazing call on the catch that is confirmed in replay. Head linesman Kent Payne comes in to confirm Seeman’s call on the field.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20179:51 pm

4:38 | 4th qtr. Great plays make for great calls. Julio Jones with a spectacular catch and line judge Jeff Seeman makes the call of the game.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20179:45 pm
5:56 | 4th qtr. Patriots TD — Danny Amendola 6 yd. pass from Tom Brady (2-pt good). ATL 28-20 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20179:44 pm

8:31 | 4th qtr. Matt Ryan is ruled to have fumbled on a potential pass attempt. Since the ball comes loose before his hand comes forward, this is called an “open hand” and ruled a fumble. Patriots recovered the fumble. The replay official confirmed the ruling before the next snap without having to stop down for a review.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20179:29 pm
9:44 | 4th qtr. Patriots FG — Stephen Gostkowski 33 yd. ATL 28-12 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20179:16 pm

2:05 | 3rd qtr.

Rich Madrid Rich Madrid February 5, 20179:14 pm

2:05 | 3rd qtr. Penalty on the Patriots for touching the ball on the kick-off before it went 10 yards. Falcons recover anyways. 5 yard penalty assessed from the spot of the recovery.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20179:08 pm

Carl Cheffers lends a hand.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20179:06 pm
2:06 | 3rd qtr. Patriots TD — James White 5 yd. pass from Tom Brady (kick hit right upright). ATL 28-9 key
Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20178:54 pm
8:31 | 3rd qtr. Falcons TD — Tevin Coleman 6 yd. pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 28-3 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20178:52 pm

13:19 | 3rd qtr.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20178:48 pm
13:19 | 3rd qtr. Falcons challenge — Runner stepped out of bounds at ATL 47. Call reversed: Punt returner stepped out of bounds at NE 47.

The replay was not shown in the broadcast until Cheffers had made his decision under the hood. After returning from a commercial, a replay of Dan Quinn holding his challenge flag while talking to head linesman Kent Payne and alternate referee Walt Coleman was shown. The call was reversed and Atlanta gained six yards of field position before a New England three-and-out.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20178:04 pm

Falcons 21-3, halftime

Penalties, 8. New England 2/15 (+2 declined), Atlanta 4/22.

Replays, 0.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20178:03 pm

:12 | 2nd qtr. When the blocker is pulling the jersey over the head of the blockee, that is holding. So it was with the Patriots’ Martellus Bennett. Good holding flag by one of the deep officials (I think Todd Prukop).

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20178:02 pm
:02 | 2nd qtr. Patriots FG — Stephen Gostkowski 41 yd. ATL 21-3 key
Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20177:51 pm

2:21 | 2nd qtr. Robert Alford slowed down and did a little showing off going into the endzone. That isn’t a foul in the NFL, but that is a flag for unsportsmanlike contact all day in high school and in college.

There are two different penalties in the two codes. In high school, the touchdown stands and the penalty is enforced on the try. In NCAA it is treated as a live ball foul. The touchdown is wiped off the board and it would have been Atlanta’s ball first and 10 at around the 25 yard line after enforcement.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20177:45 pm
2:21 | 2nd qtr. Falcons TD — Robert Alford 82 yd. interception return (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 21-0 key

Alford makes up for his defensive holding call on the drive with a crucial interception return as the half nears its end.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20177:43 pm

5:12 | 2nd. qtr. Three straight unsuccessful third downs by the Patriots kept alive by defensive holding by the Falcons. All three fouls have been there.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20177:38 pm

8:02 | 2nd qtr. Back judge Todd Prukop all over the defensive holding call. Falcons’ Robert Alford tugging on the arm of Patriots’ Julian Edelman as he makes his cut toward the middle of the field. This is the first accepted penalty of the game on a non-special teams play.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20177:38 pm

8:48 | 2nd qtr. On the extra-point attempt, Patriots linebacker Shea McClellan was flagged for an illegal formation. McClellan was attempting to leap the line, but was in front of the center at the time of the snap. There must be a gap in the defensive line opposite the center on an XP/FG attempt. With McClellan in that gap on the snap, he is “on the line” and therefore creates an illegal formation.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20177:30 pm
8:48 | 2nd qtr. Falcons TD — Austin Hooper 5 yd. pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 14-0 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20177:28 pm

10:11 | 2nd qtr. Julio Jones keeps the toes in bounds on the catch.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20177:27 pm

11:25 | 2nd qtr. By this point in the game last year, the Panthers had already used both challenges.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20177:16 pm
12:15 | 2nd qtr. Falcons TD — Devonta Freeman 5 yd. run (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 7-0 key
Marcus Griep February 5, 20177:15 pm

Atlanta forces the Patriots to take a timeout to get a breather from Atlanta’s no huddle offense. The defense doesn’t get any extra time to substitute if the offense chooses not to substitute, tiring out the defense and making it harder to get in position before the snap.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20177:14 pm

Close to a late hit by New England defensive back Duron Harmon on Julio Jones. Line judge Jeff Seeman immediately had a word with Harmon after the contact was made — most likely a warning of some type.

Rich Madrid Rich Madrid February 5, 20177:11 pm

LeGarrette Blount with the fumble and Falcons recovery in their own territory at the 29.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20177:04 pm

Very quiet and quick first quarter! One early foul and no score.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20177:01 pm

Hey, hosers. This is the third consecutive Super Bowl with a former Canadian Football League official. Field judge Doug Rosenbaum also officiated in the CFL championship game, the Grey Cup.

Hé, hosers. Il s’agit du troisième Super Bowl consécutif avec un ancien officiel de la Ligue canadienne de football. Le juge de terrain Doug Rosenbaum a également officié dans le championnat de la LCF, la Coupe Grey.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20176:53 pm

10:22 | 1st qtr.

The extra shove out of bounds probably should have drawn a flag, although the contact was minimal.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20176:49 pm

Head linesman Kent Payne was first eligible for Conference Championship assignments in 2006 and for the Super Bowl in 2008. Here is his playoff résumé since 2006:

  • 2006 — NFC Championship
  • 2007 — NFC Divisional Playoff
  • 2008 — NFC Championship
  • 2009 — AFC Divisional Playoff
  • 2010 — Super Bowl XLV
  • 2011 — AFC Championship
  • 2012 — NFC Divisional Playoff
  • 2013 — AFC Championship
  • 2014 — NFC Championship
  • 2015 — NFC Championship
  • 2016 — Super Bowl LI (plus a divisional game)
Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20176:48 pm

10:22 | 1st qtr. Head linesman Kent Payne and side judge Dyrol Prioleau pass on a potential late hit out of bounds on Julian Edelman.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20176:44 pm

13:37 | 1st qtr. Don’t be confused by Cheffers’ announcement, the holding foul on the punt was not ten yards, but enforced half the distance to the goal — actually, seven.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20176:41 pm

13:37 | 1st qtr, That didn’t take long. First flag is a hold on the Falcons during the punt return.

Matt Holmquist Matt Holmquist February 5, 20176:39 pm

On a touchback, the offense gets their choice of which hash the ball is placed on. The Patriots chose the right hash.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20176:38 pm

Gotta be ready right away. Remember the first play of Super Bowl 48 and the illegal motion/fumble/safety.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20176:37 pm

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20176:36 pm

A wonderful coin toss.

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20176:34 pm

As the designated visiting team, New England had the option to call the coin toss. Captain Matthew Slater selected “heads”. Former President George H.W. Bush flipped the coin,and the coin came up on “tails”. Atlanta elected to defer their choice, New England chose to receive, and Atlanta chose to defend the north goal.

Official. #SB51 #Patriots #RiseUp 📷: @ben_liebenberg/NFL

A post shared by NFL (@nfl) on

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20176:30 pm

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20176:23 pm

In Super Bowl I, there were five people at mid-field for the coin toss. Referee Norm Schachter and the offensive and defensive captains for the Packers and Chiefs. Today, dozens of media, officials, celebrities and assorted hangers-on will be on the field as Carl Cheffers determines who gets the ball first. The Super Bowl is the only game where the coin toss is rehearsed the day before. This pregame ceremony usually goes fine….until it doesn’t.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz February 5, 20175:12 pm

Even the most cool customers get nervous. In his book Impartial Judgement, referee Jim Tunney talks about the time he was a little uptight right before Super Bowl XI. A woman came up to him and asked him if he was nervous to work the game. Tunney said he wasn’t. She then asked him, “Then why are you in the ladies room?”

Cameron Filipe Cameron Filipe February 5, 20175:02 pm

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20174:08 pm

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20174:04 pm

From last night:

What could possibly go wrong for the coin toss?

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20172:51 pm

Before the game, let’s remember that time 10 years ago when Prince, with not a single supporting act, rocked out the best halftime performance ever.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20172:49 pm

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20172:48 pm

Even the Pope provides a nondenominational message of unity for Super Bowl Sunday:

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20172:12 pm

Pregame reading

Referee Carl Cheffers and head linesman Kent Payne worked the tie game between Cincinnati and Washington in London this season. Roger Goodgroves was a member of the chain crew and offers his perspective:

Super Bowl ref no stranger to the international scene

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20171:53 pm

Super Bowl LI media flip card

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20171:51 pm

Super Bowl LI game program

Click to view the digital version for free.

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20171:50 pm

This is the fifth time the Super Bowl was played in a retractable roof stadium.

  • XXXVIII (Houston) — closed
  • XLII (Glendale, Ariz.) — closed
  • XLVI (Indianapolis) — closed, naturally
  • XLIX (Glendale) — open

Super Bowl XLIX had an open roof despite the kickoff temperature of 66° and that the Cardinals never opened the roof for any of their games that season. (When there is no threat of precipitation, the roof is often closed because of the heat.)

Ben Austro Ben Austro February 5, 20171:43 pm

75°, mostly cloudy, 10% chance of precipitation

Forecast: 67° for trophy presentation

From Football Zebras editor Ben Austro

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15 thoughts on “Super Bowl LI liveblog: Patriots vs. Falcons

  1. Big missed pass interference on the Patriots on the opening drive of the third quarter. This should not decide the game, but as tight as they called it against the Falcon’s defense, they need to call it both ways. They make up for it with the pass interference near the goal line.

  2. Aside from the questionable non-DPI calls, this looked to be a well-officiated game. I think the officials deserve a pat on the back for a good job well done.

  3. Can someone please explain the difference between a good block and a hold? It really seemed Brady would have been sacked a bunch this game if his o line didn’t hold back the falcons.

  4. This was one of the worst officiated games I have ever seen. The New England Offensive line was not called for holding even one time. The replays showed holding on numerous occasions. There were several chop blocks that were never called. New England had a flagrant face mask on a Falcons receiver, but the officials were too busy calling holding on the Falcons offensive line and ignored the face mask. This took the Falcons out of field goal range. The officials, once again gave this game to New England.

    Truly pathetic officiating. I wonder if Bob Kraft paid off the officials before the game started?

  5. Would the facemask on sanu been offsetting if they called 2 facemasks and an offensive holding?

    I think that was a bad missed call

  6. Once again, poor officiating by yet another set of the “best.” Where do we start? I haven’t analyzed fully, but let’s take a look at some calls that could have been game changers, depending upon how the game played out. Again, here is just a few I can remember: Atlanta 2d TD, defender times jump perfectly, no flag should have been thrown, and kick was missed. Incorrect call, but it allowed Atlanta the opportunity to re-kick. Kick was good. One point that should not have been. Edelman punt return. Overweight deep wing out of position to see returner step OOB. Official was not straddling the sideline trailing the play, but 1 and a half yards off the sideline, when he was not in danger. Completely missed Edelman’s foot stepping on sideline. Officiating 101. Simply piss poor mechanics. Then, Atlanta called on a huge hold in 2d half which brought back a big gain. Only problem is Atlanta receiver was tackled by his facemask. Missed call, would have offset. Instead, Atlanta backed up ten yards. Should have offset and take it over. Then, in 2d half NE receiver held – bad hold – not called and Brady throws incomplete. Should have been first down. Pats made the first down next play, but if they didn’t? We’d be hearing about this one. A runner was clearly hit late, OOB down inside the ten; also in 2d half. Can’t remember which team, but hit should have drawn a flag. Player safety foul. No flag thrown. Then the big one. Overtime. NE first and ten at 25. Out in the open, a huge chop block is made. How they missed this is beyond me. Understood sometimes these are tough gets in the interior line, but this was wide out in the open. Atlanta defender trailing play on swing pass to back on the right side, closing in on tackle. NE RG sheds his initial block and heads downfield, attacks defender low while the NE center who was ahead of the play curls back and blocks defender over the guard who was engaged low at teh 25 yard line. Here is the rule: ARTICLE 3. CHOP BLOCK. A Chop Block is a block by the offense in which one offensive player (designated as A1 for purposes of this rule) blocks a defensive player in the area of the thigh or lower while another offensive player (A2) engages that same defensive player above the waist. All Chop Blocks are illegal, including in the following situations…. This was a dangerous block; another player safety foul that can’t be missed. Should have backed NE up 15 yards. Instead, NE gains ten yards and the next play the DPI is called, game over. Huge miss. These are just a few. That’s what you get when you have no accountability in the ranks. Suck up and move up. Sad to say there is another female coming in next season, who believe it or not is worse than the one currently employed, and you can’t get any worse than Sara Thomas.

  7. Quite a few calls were missed in this game which were obvious (i.e., facemask, chop block, illegal formation, etc.). As usual the Patriots came out on the winning side both in points and w/ the nod from officiating.

    NE 4 – 23
    ATL 9 – 65

    That’s a 3x advantage in penalty yards. One could firmly conclude NE only first half points were nearly entirely the by product of ticky tack calls against ATL D. I am fine w/ games that are called a “certain” way a long as it’s both ways. It was clear that late in the game the officials put away their whistles if it was NE question, but reached quickly for whistle when was ATL issue.

  8. Chop block play was marginal foul at best, no call was clearly the correct call. The defensive pass interference on Butler from NE was bad call, perfect defense. Plus the two late hit OOB calls that were not made. Additionally missed two obvious false start calls on Atlanta . Lastly the NE defender perfectly timed the snap on the block of the PAT by Atlanta, no foul, missed call.

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