2017 AFC Divisional Playoff
Follow us here for rolling coverage of the calls and rules interpretations of the AFC Divisional Playoff game from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
If you have any questions or comments, use the comments section of this post, or tweet us @footballzebras.
Today’s crew is headed by Brad Allen.
|R||122||Brad Allen||4||Pembroke State||non-profit CEO*|
|U||20||Barry Anderson||11||Wrolstad||North Carolina State||builder/developer*|
|DJ||91||Jerry Bergman||16||McAulay||Robert Morris||sales executive|
|LJ||10||Julian Mapp||9||Wrolstad||Grambling State||project leader|
|FJ||73||Joe Larrew||16||Blakeman||St Louis||attorney|
|SJ||87||Walt Coleman IV||3||Boger||Southern Methodist||financial advisor|
|BJ||93||Scott Helverson||15||Hochuli||Iowa||sales, printing and promotions*|
*indicates full-time official
- Replay: Jim Lapetina
- Walt Anderson (R)
- Carl Johnson (LJ)
- Greg Steed (BJ)
- January 14, 2018 - 4:15 pm 1:45 | 4th qtr. Jaguars FG — Josh Lambo 45 yd. JAX 45-35 key
- January 14, 2018 - 3:53 pm 4:19 | 4th qtr. Jaguars TD — Tommy Bohanon 14 yd. pass from Blake Bortles (Josh Lambo kick). JAX 42-28 key
- January 14, 2018 - 3:35 pm 10:34 | 4th qtr. Jaguars TD — Leonard Fournette 3 yd. run (Josh Lambo kick). JAX 35-21 key
- January 14, 2018 - 2:58 pm 9:09 | 3rd qtr. Steelers TD — Le’Veon Bell 19 yd. pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Chris Boswell kick). JAX 28-21 key
- January 14, 2018 - 2:32 pm :25 | 2nd qtr. Steelers TD — Martavis Bryant 36 yd. pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Chris Boswell kick). JAX 28-14 key
- January 14, 2018 - 2:23 pm 2:33 | 2nd qtr. Booth review (turnover) — Fumble. Call confirmed.
- January 14, 2018 - 2:03 pm 8:20 | 2nd qtr. Steelers TD — Antonio Brown 23 yd. pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Chris Boswell kick). JAX 21-7 key
Kickoff conditions: Clear 16°, Calm
This is Brad Allen’s second playoff assignment in his third year of postseason eligibility. Last year, he worked a Wild Card Playoff. The playoff experience of the rest of the crew, including this game:
- Anderson (U), 6 games — 3 wild cards, 3 divisionals
- Bergman (DJ), 10 games — 6 wild cards, 4 divisionals
- Mapp (LJ), 5 games — 2 wild cards, 2 divisionals, 1 conference championship
- Larrew (FJ), 10 games — 2 wild cards 6 divisionals, 1 conference championship, Super Bowl XLVII
- Coleman IV (SJ) — first playoff game
- Helverson (BJ), 13 games — 4 wild cards, 3 divisionals, 4 conference championships, Super Bowls XLII and XLV
Tempers start to flare early, but the crew does a good job of stepping in to prevent any further damage to either team.
8:20 | 1st qtr. Fans in Heinz Field may have not liked the call, but Bortles was able to shovel the pass forward to his running back after the pump. When a pass vs. fumble ruling is in question, look at the hand of the quarterback: if his hand is empty when the ball is propelled forward, it’s a fumble. Here, Bortles had total control, so incomplete pass is the right call.
Normally, the line of scrimmage official (in this case, down judge Jerry Bergman) has the mechanic of watching the feet of any runner near the sideline, while the deep wing (here, side judge Walt Coleman IV) keeps their eye on the placement of the ball. This is a good reversal in replay, as the runner’s feet stay in bounds at the pylon and the ball breaks the plane.
14:35 | 2nd qtr. While defensive holding is called on players in the secondary in most cases, occasionally, you’ll see a defensive holding call at the line of scrimmage, mainly when defensive linemen hold offensive linemen to allow linebackers to move into the backfield. On this play, Steelers’ L.T. Walton grabbed a Jacksonville offensive lineman in the front portion of his collar, which is a good call for defensive holding by back judge Scott Helverson. This is not a personal foul for a horse collar, as the back of the collar and/or nameplate was not grabbed.
2:38 | 2nd qtr. If Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey had made the catch off the tipped ball, there would have been no foul for illegal touching. Once the ball is touched by a defender or eligible receiver after the pass is thrown, any player is eligible to catch the ball.
Jaguars 28-14, halftime
- Jaguars — 2/25
- Steelers — 1/5
- 1 booth review: confirmed
- 1 JAX challenge: reversed
2:33 | 2nd qtr. During his return of Ben Roethlisberger’s fumble, Jaguars defender Telvin Smith pointed directly at an opponent as he neared the endzone and was correctly flagged for taunting. Although the action occurred prior to Smith scoring, unsportsmanlike fouls are treated as dead ball fouls and enforced from the succeeding spot. In this case that is the kickoff, and there is no option to have the penalty enforced on the PAT.
There was also a replay review of the scoring play. If the play had been overturned, the unsportsmanlike foul still would have been enforced because all personal and unsportsmanlike conduct fouls are applied regardless of the outcome of the review. This foul also counted towards potential disqualification for Telvin Smith.
12:54 | 3rd qtr. Interesting sequence there. Jalen Ramsey seemed to shove Le’Veon Bell late out of bounds, drawing a flag from both line judge Julian Mapp and field judge Joe Larrew. In actuality, JuJu Smith-Schuster was blocking Ramsey into Bell, and Bell appeared to over-exaggerate the contact. The call was for unsportsmanlike conduct, so the foul may have been for something different that was unseen, and not the contact, as a late hit would be an unnecessary roughness personal foul. The difference with this, is that now Ramsey has one foul under his belt leading to potential disqualification.
There was a flag thrown on that play for defensive pass interference, if you’re wondering. It was declined.
9:21 | 4th qtr.
I can see that if a QB is presenting himself as a runner, then the roughing rules don't fully apply. But this should have been a roughing foul as Roethlisberger clearly isn't imitating possession #JAXvsPIT https://t.co/GbwiRrwyiw
— Fᴏᴏᴛʙᴀʟʟ Zᴇʙʀᴀs (@footballzebras) January 14, 2018
One additional circumstance to consider in the call is that there isn’t a “punishing” hit on Roethlisberger, who was allowed to land on the defender rather than being planted into the ground.
Roethlisberger did cross the line of scrimmage, but the pass was thrown backwards, which is entirely legal. Line judge Julian Mapp was on the call, extending his arm backwards, indicating a backward pass.
Jaguars 45-42, final
- Jaguars — 3/40 (+1 declined)
- Steelers — 4/25
- 1 booth review: confirmed
- 1 JAX challenge: reversed
Brad Allen and crew did a good job handling this game. Flags only touched the field eight times, and there were only two replay reviews, so there was not much of an officiating presence here. The unsportsmanlike conduct call on Jalen Ramsey for the “late hit” may have been a tad questionable, but overall, Allen and the crew had control over the game. Especially, handling some pushing and shoving early that quickly died down there and did not re-appear for the rest of the game. This crew should be proud of how this game was officiated.
:01 | 4th qtr. On the onside kick by the Steelers, the only scenario that would work in their benefit would be if the Steelers recovered the kickoff without the Jaguars touching the ball. The clock runs as soon as the receiving team touches the ball, but it is dead when the kicking team recovers. If the Steelers had successfully recovered and kept the Jaguars off the ball, the Steelers would have a snap at the point of recovery.