Football Zebras
Officiating Dept. VideoOfficiating video week 5: legal quarterback hits and the Raiders fumble controversy

Officiating video week 5: legal quarterback hits and the Raiders fumble controversy

Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron released the week 5 officiating video today. (Video below)

Legal quarterback hits

In it he covered examples of legal quarterbacks hits. Officials are looking for players to exhibit certain tackling techniques if they hit the quarterback. The players cited in the video for legal quarterback hits were shown to be tackling the quarterback in positions that allow them to brace for contact with the ground by sticking an arm out to lessen the blow or shown hitting the quarterback and rolling him to the side so that the defender absorbs most of the contact. 

Hit on a defenseless player

Hits on defenseless players were covered and in the example shown, though the defender hits the player with his helmet, it was distinguished from the use of the helmet rule. In the example, the defender hits a receiver with forcible contact to his head or neck area, automatically making it a flag for unnecessary roughness for a hit on a defenseless player. The distinguishing feature of the play is that the receiver was in the process of the catch, making the player a defenseless player.

Use of the helmet rule

Only four use of the helmet rule penalties have been called this season, and some have gone uncalled. On an example from the Monday night Chiefs/Broncos game, Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt lowered his head and initiated contact on a Broncos defender. However, the hit was not flagged but was used as an example of an illegal hit under the rule. Riveron stated in the past that lowering the helmet to initiate contact is a foul anytime and anywhere on the field by any player.

Illegal punt formation

In an example from the Dolphins/Patriots game, the Patriots lined up in an illegal punt formation when a defender lined up  over the shoulder of the center. A second foul was spotted as that defender initiated what’s called a “pull-and-shoot” where the defender grabs the lineman and pulls him out of the way so another defender can “shoot” that gap. It is a foul for holding. Neither the illegal punt formation or the holding were called on this play.

Forward progress not reviewable

In a controversial call from the Browns/Raiders game which we covered at length in a post, quarterback Derek Carr was ruled to have had his forward progress stopped as he fumbled the ball. Since forward progress was ruled, officiating central determined that the play was not reviewable, though we disagree because “replay can review an aspect of the play prior to a forward progress ruling or an inadvertent whistle.” Riveron stated matter of factly that the play would only be reviewable if the play pertained the line to gain or the goal line.

Incidental contact

In an example from the Falcons/Bengals game, Riveron showed that incidental contact occurred between a the Bengals right tackle and a Falcons edge rusher. The play was flagged for illegal use of the hands but contact was inadvertent as the tackle had his hand swatted up near the defender’s face. Riveron stated this was incidental contact and not a forcible hit to the head or neck area of the defender.

Illegal contact with a punt returner

A punt returner from the Cardinals/Seahawks game was contacted forcibly to the head or neck area but the hit wasn’t flagged. The returner never signaled for a fair catch and in that case he may be contacted but cannot be hit in the head or neck area since he is deemed a defenseless player. The Seahawks defender clearly hit the returner in the head with forcible contact but no foul was given.

Legal block

Receivers may legally block on a pass play before the ball is thrown if it’s within one yard of the line of scrimmage and the block is not initiated with forcible contact to the head or neck area.

 

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