Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron released the week 16 officiating video today. (video below)
Use of the helmet
In it he covered, as we have been all season, the use of the helmet rule. The rule applies to any player at any time anywhere on the field, whether or not they are the ball carrier. Both offensive and defensive players can be flagged for lowering their helmet to initiate contact.
In the first quarter of the Browns/Broncos game last weekend, Browns linebacker Jamie Collins was flagged under the new rule. Later in the game, Broncos running back Devontae Booker lowered his head to initiate contact on a defender after he caught a pass and turned up field. He was not flagged despite the criteria of the rule being met.
In Patriots/Steelers game, the Patriots attempted a late substitution similar to the one that occurred in week 14 in the Rams/Bears game. In that game, line judge Carl Johnson accidentally got knocked down by a player on the Bears punt team subbing on to the field, so the officiating crew stopped the play. In the Patriots game, the umpire ran in and correctly stood over the ball, indicating that the defense had an opportunity to match up while the offense was set.
The referee then gave the signal for a late substitution (both arms out) and will not release the umpire from that position over the ball until he feels the defense has had time to line up and match. The referee and the umpire will move into position where they can correctly officiate the play before the offense can snap. If the play clock were to run out, the offense would take a five yard delay of game penalty.
A catch is only catch when it meets three criteria: 1) control, 2) two feet down, and 3) a football act or the time to perform a football act. In the video example, a Colts receiver took a big hit across the middle as he caught the ball and got his second foot down. The ball came loose and was ruled incomplete because he did not satisfy the third element.
Fumble over the pylon
In a play that caused quite a controversy in the recent Monday night game, Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis fumbled the ball out of bounds near the end zone. The ruling was that he fumbled the ball out of bounds through the end zone and therefore it would be a touchback and Panthers possession at the 20 yard line. The replay crew determined that they did not have a clear angle to see if the ball traveled through the air over the front pylon at the goal line and out of bounds. The ruling was stands vice confirmed due to no clear and obvious evidence to overturn. It is a touchback because there can only be three outcomes in the end zone: a touchdown, safety, or touchback.