Football Zebras
2017 Postseason2017 Divisional PlayoffsDivisional Playoffs liveblog: Falcons at Eagles

Divisional Playoffs liveblog: Falcons at Eagles

2017 NFC Divisional Playoff

Follow us here for rolling coverage of the calls and rules interpretations of the NFC Divisional Playoff game from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

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.

      Yrs 2017 crew College Occupation
R 52 Bill Vinovich 13   San Diego accountant, former NFL officiating supervisor
U 131 Mark Pellis 4 Parry Allegheny financial advisor
DJ 134 Ed Camp 18 Boger William Paterson physical education teacher*
LJ 18 Byron Boston 23 Anderson Austin tax consultant
FJ 97 Tom Hill 19 Allen Carson Newman teacher*
SJ 56 Allen Baynes 10 Hussey Auburn realtor
BJ 83 Shawn Hochuli 4 Allen Claremont financial advisor

*indicates full-time official

  • Replay: Charles Stewart
  • Alternates: 
    • Terry McAulay (R)
    • Hugo Cruz (DJ)
    • Mike Weatherford (FJ)


Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20184:39 pm

Kickoff conditions: Sunny 31°, wind 18mph

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20184:39 pm

Bill Vinovich is in his 12th season and 9th as referee. This is his 10th postseason assignment, including 2 Wild Card Playoffs, 4 Divisional Playoffs, 3 Conference Championships, and Super Bowl XLIX.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20184:47 pm
9:04 | 1st qtr. Falcons FG — Matt Bryant 33 yd. ATL 3-0 key
Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 13, 20184:56 pm

14:46 | 1st qtr. The first flag of the day was pass interference on the Atlanta Falcons on a wounded duck of a pass by the Eagles’ Nick Foles. Even though the receiver had to come back to the ball, the defender is still responsible to avoid contact. Allen Baynes and Shawn Hochuli tossed the laundry.


Patrick Weber Patrick Weber January 13, 20185:15 pm

2:29 | 1st qtr. (video). After failing to reach the line to gain on a third down play, the Falcons got on the ball to go for it on fourth down. The play clock ran to zero, and even though the Falcons ran a quick play (and would have been unsuccessful) they were called for a delay of game foul. On replays it is clear that the back judge, who is responsible for the play clock, was killing the play immediately.

The defense always has the option to decline the yardage for a penalty, but because the play never technically happened they can not take the apparent result of the play. Since the Falcons were clearly going for it on fourth down, the Eagles accepted the penalty and this becomes a rare instance of a foul benefiting the offenders.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20185:38 pm
10:51 | 1st qtr. Official review — Touchdown. Call reversed: short of end zone. key

Just as they drew it up, I’m sure.

A botched handoff is recovered by Eagles quarterback Nick Foles who initially is ruled to have a touchdown. It was reversed to short.

This is a legal advance by the offense. There are different rules for fumbles that occur on 4th down or after the 2:00 warning, but that still won’t affect the play if that was the case. Foles had possession and the running back did not, so Foles is allowed to recover the fumbled ball and advance it.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20185:40 pm
10:28 | 2nd qtr. Eagles TD — LeGarrette Blount 33 yd. run (kick hit left upright). PHI 6-3 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20185:42 pm
7:41 | 2nd qtr Official review — Punt touched by the receiving team, recovered by the kicking team. Call confirmed. key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20185:45 pm
5:41 | 2nd Falcons TD — Devonta Freeman 6 yd. pass from Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant kick). ATL 10-6 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20185:53 pm

7:31 | 2nd qtr. Eagles safety Rodney McLeod is flagged for unnecessary roughness in the end zone for making contact with the receiver’s helmet. In real time, this seems a reasonable call. However, the defenseless player provisions in the rules only apply in the case of forcible blows to the head or neck area. With the benefit of replay, it doesn’t appear that the contact to the head was forcible.


Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 13, 20186:06 pm
:55 | 2nd qtr. Official review — Running into the kicker foul. Call reversed: no foul.

The Eagles avoid a running into the kicker foul thanks to replay. If a defender tips the kick, there is no running into the kicker or roughing the kicker foul. Replay showed the Eagles defender barely getting his middle and ring finger on the punt, thus Vinovich picked up the flag.

Touching of the ball is a reviewable aspect, but the foul itself is not reviewable. The flag can only be picked up because of the touch, but no other aspect (such as whether contact was made) of the foul can be reviewed.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20186:21 pm
:00 | 2nd qtr. Eagles FG — Jake Elliot 53 yd. ATL 10-9 key

Longest field goal in the playoffs by a rookie

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20186:21 pm

Falcons 10-9, half


  • Falcons — 3/68
  • Eagles — 3/19


  • 3 booth reviews: 1 confirmed, 2 reversed
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20186:33 pm

:01 | 2nd qtr. Following a quick pass, the Eagles fortunately had 1 second remaining on the clock.

Clock operators are local hires who are managed under the officiating department, and there is not a biased one among them. For the postseason, the league does not use the local clock operators, and will bring them from a neutral city.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20187:00 pm

Scrimmage balls, unlike the kicking balls that are single-game use, are in the team’s ball supply and are even used in practice. Each game they are used, they are examined by the officiating crew and the ball pressure is checked. With a silver marker, the referee’s uniform number is applied to the ball, with Vinovich’s “52” at the end of the list.

Game ball procedure revised in wake of Deflategate

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20187:07 pm
:15 | 3rd qtr. Eagles FG — Jake Elliot 37 yd. PHI 12-10 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20187:16 pm
6:05 | 4th qtr. Eagles FG — Jake Elliot 21 yd. PHI 15-10 key
Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 13, 20187:36 pm
3:30 | 4th qtr. Eagles challenge — Completed catch. Call reversed: incomplete. key

In real time it looks like a catch, but 21st century technology and the NFL’s interpretation make this in incomplete pass.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20187:39 pm
1:05 | 4th qtr. Booth review (2:00) — Completed catch. Call stands. key
Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 13, 20187:43 pm

:58 | 4th qtr. Good encroachment call all the way. The Eagles held still and didn’t give the officials a tough call.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 13, 20187:45 pm

Eagles, 15-10, final


  • Falcons — 4/73
  • Eagles — 4/24


  • 4 booth reviews: 1 confirmed, 2 reversed, 1 stands
  • 1 PHI challenge: reversed
Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 13, 20187:50 pm

There were some tight calls that needed a second look (especially in the playoffs), hence the five reviews. Other than one unnecessary roughness that might not have been there, I think the crew did a fine job.

Referee Bill Vinovich prepared his the crew well and he ran a typically smooth game.

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