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Officiating Dept. VideoOfficiating video: Riveron explains another reversed catch by Serferian-Jenkins

Officiating video: Riveron explains another reversed catch by Serferian-Jenkins

Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron released the week 12 officiating video today (video below). In it he covered: 

Catch/no catch. In a scoring review from the Panthers at Jets game, it was quite controversially determined that tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins did not maintain control going to the ground. When a receiver is in the act of going to the ground and does not become a runner long enough to ward off contact, he must maintain control through contact with the ground. In this case, Seferian-Jenkins knee hit the ground so the next step is to determine if he maintained control. Riveron claims the replay showed that he lost control of the ball as he made contact with the out-of-bounds line, automatically making the pass incomplete. Hitting the out-of-bounds line is not grounds for an automatic incompletion as long as the receiver maintains control through the act of hitting the ground out of bounds.

4th down/inside 2-minute fumble. Also known, as the “Holy Roller” rule, the fumbling team may only advance a fumble recovery if it is not 4th down or inside 2 minutes of the half. Riveron showed a play which was a legal forward fumble recovery that scored an Eagles touchdown, but described other scenarios where the touchdown wouldn’t be allowed

On 4th down or inside two minutes, the spot of the fumble is treated as the recovery spot, so even if the ball is fumbled at the 2-yard line and is recovered in the end zone, the spot of the recovery is treated as the 2-yard line. As Football Zebras editor-in-chief Ben Austro noted in So You Think You Know Football:

The rules were changed in the next off-season to curb any advantage on such a fluke play in a desperate situation. What continues to be referred to as the Holy Roller Rule to this day restricts the ability of the offense to recover fumbles that occur after the two-minute warning.

The fluke play of course being the fumble in a 1978 Raiders at Chargers game in San Diego when Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler intentionally fumbled the ball forward into the end zone with 10 seconds remaining.

Roughing the passer. A Minnesota defender was flagged for roughing the passer after he made forcible contact with Lions quarterback Matt Stafford at or below the knee area in the Vikings at Lions game on Thanksgiving Day. However, after a quick conference between the officials, the flag was picked up as it was determined that the defender was blocked into the quarterback and though the contact was forcible, there was no foul. 

Illegal contact. Illegal contact goes away as soon as the quarterback pitches or throws the ball, or muffs the snap and picks it up and throws it. There can still be a foul for defensive holding. In a play in the Vikings at Lions game, Stafford took the snap and pitched it to the running back, who passed it back to Stafford before throwing it downfield. There happened to be defensive holding during the play as a Lions receiver got behind the defense. Since it was holding, the Lions get the 5 yard enforcement and an automatic first down.

First touching. In a punt during the Giants at Redskins game, a Redskins player “first touched” the ball after it hit the ground, and as he scooped it up, he kept running toward and into the end zone. Even though he took possession at the 6-yard line, all momentum is counted into the end zone under the first touch rule, even though he could avoid it. This was ruled a touchback. If he stopped completely or even droped the ball some time after he takes possession at the 6-yard line and before the goal line, the ball is spotted where the “first touch” occurred.

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One thought on “Officiating video: Riveron explains another reversed catch by Serferian-Jenkins

  1. “When a receiver is in the act of going to the ground and does not become a runner long enough to ward off contact, he must maintain control through contact with the ground.”

    “Hitting the out-of-bounds line is not grounds for an automatic incompletion as long as the receiver maintains control through the act of hitting the ground out of bounds.”

    The first sentence makes no sense what-so-ever. The rules do not state “in the act of going to the ground”. They state “in the act of catching a pass”. There is a huge difference between these two statements. “In the act of cathing a pass” is a time specific requirement. It refers to nothing but the act BEFORE control is obtained and both feet or any other part of the body touches the ground inbounds. Whereas, “in the act of going to the ground” could be at any point beyond having those requirements satisfied. Plus, it is the completion of the pass that makes the player become a runner. That is stated in the definition of RUNNER. Also, the rules state “he must maintain control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground”, NOT through contact with the ground. His contact with the ground NEVER ENDS, until he has both feet off of the ground again. It is these vague statements that confuses the rules and everyone who is trying to understand them.

    The second sentence is true, except that the rulebook states “he must maintain complete and continuous control of the ball until after his initial contact with the ground, or the pass is incomplete.” But the NFL DOES NOT officiate the play the way this rule is written. This is proven by the reversal of the touchdown call made in the second week of the session where Sterling Shepard clearly makes a legal catch for a touchdown INBOUNDS. He was not going to the ground until after his third foot contacted the ground inbounds. And it was that third foot that caused him to stumble.

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