Football Zebras
2017 PostseasonWild Card liveblog: Falcons at Rams

Wild Card liveblog: Falcons at Rams

2017 NFC Wild Card Playoff

Follow us here for rolling coverage of the calls and rules interpretations of the NFC Wild Card Playoff game from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

If you have any questions or comments, use the comments section of this post, or tweet us @footballzebras.

Today’s crew is headed by Ed Hochui.

      Yrs 2017 crew College Occupation
R 85 Ed Hochuli 28   Texas-El Paso attorney
U 14 Shawn Smith 3 Hochuli Ferris State internal auditor
DJ 28 Mark Hittner 21 Wrolstad Pittsburg State investment broker
LJ 108 Gary Arthur 21 Steratore Wright State president, commercial printing company
FJ 72 Michael Banks 16 McAulay Illinois State carpenter foreman
SJ 88 Brad Freeman 4 Cheffers Mississippi State sports park director
BJ 119 Greg Wilson 10 Anderson USC law enforcement
  • Replay: Billy Smith
  • Alternates:
    • Walt Coleman (R)
    • Sarah Thomas (DJ)
    • Gary Cavaletto (SJ)
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201811:53 pm

While not perfect, Hochuli had a more experienced crew than Triplette did in the earlier game, and it showed. Things weren’t “let go” during this game, and that uncalled holding (based on how the rest of the game went) was missed in traffic. While Al Michaels was indefatigable about some of the officiating delays, I didn’t see anything that was an undue delay. (On one review, it looks like there was a miscommunication about whether the commercial was running, and Hochuli announced a play was under review twice.)

This crew kept the game going and the spotting of the ball and the pace of the game (even in a hurry-up) was maintained outside of those reviews.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201811:44 pm

Falcons 26-13, final

Penalties

  • Falcons — 4/51 (+1 declined)
  • Rams — 5/45 (+1 declined)

Replays

  • 4 booth reviews: 2 confirmed, 1 stands, 1 reversed
Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 6, 201811:43 pm

In the last few moments of the game, with the Rams gunning for a touchdown to set up a desperation onside kick, Deion Jones appeared to hold Sammy Watkins in the end zone. While the first clutch could be ruled either way, there was definite restriction when Watkins spun away and tried to catch the pass.

Chris Collinsworth speculated that the officials “let them play” in the playoffs and don’t call it as tightly. Officials are not instructed to to let the players play, so this is an incorrect statement by Collinsworth.

But it certainly looks like a missed defensive hold at least or, more likely, pass interference.

Video

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201811:22 pm
2:16 | 4th qtr. Booth review (score) — Touchdown catch. Call reversed: incomplete. key

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 6, 201811:17 pm

5:04 | 4th qtr. A unnecessary roughness call on the Rams’ Robert Woods. Another ball carrier was making a nice gain, and Woods blew up an Atlanta player behind the play. Four flags flew for an illegal blindside block.

You may not like the call, but it is the reality of football today from Pop Warner to pro.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201811:07 pm
5:54 | 4th qtr. Rams FG — Julio Jones 8 yd. ATL 26-13 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201811:06 pm
10:54 | 4th qtr. Rams FG — Sam Ficken 32 yd. ATL 19-13 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201810:43 pm
:19 | 3rd qtr. Falcons FG — Matt Bryant 54 yd. ATL 19-10 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201810:28 pm
6:45 | 3rd qtr. Falcons FG — Matt Bryant 25 yd. ATL 16-10 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201810:16 pm

Falcons 13-10, halftime

Penalties

  • Falcons — 4/51 (+1 declined)
  • Rams — 2/20

Replays

  • 3 booth reviews: 1 confirmed, 1 stands, 1 reversed
:03 | 2nd qtr. Rams FG — Sam Ficken 35 yd. ATL 13-10 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201810:12 pm
:18 | 2nd qtr. Booth review (2:00) — Completed catch. Call reversed: incomplete. key

On the very next play, another Rams catch is reviewed, and in this case the ground assisted the catch, making it incomplete.

Confusing the situation was an offside call that intervened. When the pass was ruled complete on the field, one of the Falcons did not get onside prior to the next snap. Replay was allowed to review because there was no legal snap.

So, since replay reversed the call, the offside foul never happens, so it is picked up.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 201810:05 pm
:43 | 2nd qtr. Booth review (2:00) — Completed catch. Call stands. key

The first catch reviewed on this series did not have any element to overturn the call on the field. Because there was a hurry-up, and a potential trapped ball, replay shut the play down when the Rams’ snap was imminent. This prevents “saving” time for the offense, and getting the clock as near as possible if there was no review.

There was 20 seconds on the clock, and they could have adjusted it to 21-22 seconds on the field. Since the clock was running and remains a running clock, this is typically not adjusted.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20189:47 pm
2:40 | 2nd qtr. Rams TD — Cooper Kupp 14 yd. pass from Jared Goff (Sam Ficken kick). ATL 13-7 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20189:44 pm

On the Devonta Freeman touchdown, he certainy had a little help from his friends to get into the end zone. The NFL rule for “assisting the runner” only applies to a runner being pulled, not pushed. The reason for the change was to include typical goal line rushes into the line where it just becomes a mixing bowl.

Freeman was being carried and pulled to some degree in the same action, making this a real borderline call.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20189:30 pm
11:40 | 2nd qtr. Falcons TD — Devonta Freeman 3 yd. run (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 13-0 key
Rich Madrid Rich Madrid January 6, 20189:21 pm

Random fun facts: the last ever Rams playoff game as the LA Rams, they lost to the 49ers at Candlestick in the NFC Championship Game. Their last playoff game actually in LA was January 4th 1986 at Anaheim Stadium (Edison Field today) against the Cowboys, whom they beat 20-0 behind a 200+ yard rushing performance by Eric Dickerson.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/199001140sfo.htm

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198601040ram.htm

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20189:05 pm
1:28 | 1st qtr. Falcons FG — Matt Bryant 51 yd. ATL 6-0 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20189:04 pm
7:17 | 1st qtr. Falcons FG — Matt Bryant 29 yd. ATL 3-0 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20188:51 pm
8:40 | 1st qtr. Booth review (turnover) — Muffed punt first touched by LAR. Call confirmed. key

The play is reviewable by the booth as a turnover, as muffed punts recovered by the kicking team are considered turnovers for the replay rule. Replay is allowed to rule on whether or not the ball is touched, and could give the Rams the ball if it was determined to touch the Falcons first.

Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 6, 20188:42 pm

8:40 | 1st qtr. On a punt, the ball touched two Rams players (receivers) before being touched by a Falcons player. This makes the ball live and the Falcons recovered the muffed punt.

There was a long pause before the play went under review, much to Al Michael’s irritation (probably booked an early flight).

But more interesting than an cranky announcer was the obvious irritation by Hochuli before the replay. He was chewing out someone on his radio. I don’t know if it was the instant replay official, or a member of his crew.

Hochuli was ready to go, but there was something holding up the works…and he didn’t like it.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20188:40 pm

The prior postseason experience of the rest of the crew, including this game:

  • Smith (U), 2 games — 1 wild card, 1 divisional
  • Hittner (DJ), 19 — 7 wild cards, 2 divisionals, 7 conference championships, Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XL
  • Arthur (LJ), 17 — 8 wild cards, 4 divisionals, 4 conference championships, Super Bowl XLVI
  • Banks (FJ), 9 — 4 wild cards, 4 divisionals, Super Bowl XLIII
  • Freeman (SJ), 3 — 2 wild cards, 1 divisional
  • Wilson (BJ), 7 — 4 wild cards, 2 divisionals, 1 conference championship
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20188:23 pm

Kickoff conditions: 62°

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 6, 20188:19 pm

This is Hochuli’s 26th postseason assignment, the most of any active official, which include 11 Wild Card Playoffs, 5 Divisional Playoffs, 8 Conference Championships, and Super Bowls XXXII and XXXVIII.

2 thoughts on “Wild Card liveblog: Falcons at Rams

  1. I guess I have seen it all now, blocking someone in the middle of the chest with your shoulder is a blindside block.

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