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20192019 PreseasonOfficiating video: crackback blocks, process of the catch, and more use of helmet fouls

Officiating video: crackback blocks, process of the catch, and more use of helmet fouls

In his second weekly video of the preseason, senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron highlighted more plays from last week’s slate of games regarding use of the helmet, blindside and crackback blocks, and the process of the catch.

Use of the helmet (UOH)

In more discussion regarding the foul for lowering the head to initiate contact, Riveron picked out two plays to illustrate a foul for use of the helmet versus bracing for contact, which is not a foul. In the first play, from the Titans-Eagles game, a Philadelphia defender, pursuing a Tennessee receiver, lowers his head, lines up his opponent, and initiates forcible contact to him. This is a foul for use of the helmet. At the same time, the Tennessee receiver who is the recipient of the contact, also lowers his head, but it is in an attempt to brace for contact, and not to initiate contact against the defender who is making the tackle.

In the second play, from the Colts-Bills game, the same scenario happens on a running play. The Buffalo runner is running up the middle, and the Indianapolis defender comes in, lowers his head, and makes forcible contact with his helmet, thus creating a foul. Here, the runner is also lowering his head, as in the example before, but this is to brace for the imminent contact, as opposed to initiating his own contact with the defender.

Legal contact to a defenseless receiver

In another play from Titans-Eagles, a receiver goes up to catch a pass, and while still in a defenseless posture and before he becomes a runner, he is forcibly contacted by a defender. The contact is legal since the defender kept his head to the side, and used his hands and arms to contact the defenseless receiver in the shoulder, knocking him to the ground. If the defender had led with the crown of his helmet and contacted any part of the receiver’s body, or contacted the receiver in the head or neck area, this would have been a foul for unnecessary roughness.

Illegal crackback block vs. legal contact

Illustrating the crackback block restrictions, Riveron used two plays to distinguish what is and what is not a foul for an illegal crackback block. In the first play from the Broncos-Seahawks game, a Seattle receiver, who is in motion and never becomes fully set prior to the snap, runs back in the direction of the ball at the snap, and forcibly contacts a defender in the head and neck area while initiating a block. Since the receiver was in motion at the snap, and was moving laterally on the play, this is a foul for an illegal crackback block.

On the contrary, in the play from the Patriots-Eagles game, a New England receiver also runs back toward the ball at the snap and forcibly contacts the defender, but unlike the play above, he first runs forward, then cuts inward to make the contact. Since the receiver moved forward at the snap, known as “north and south”, this is not a foul for an illegal crackback block since he did not initiate his movement in such a manner that was parallel to the line of scrimmage.

Illegal blindside block (BLI)

After an interception from the Texans-Packers game, a Green Bay defender, after his team gained possession of the ball, ran back toward his end line and forcibly blocked a Houston receiver using his shoulder and forearm, which constitutes an illegal blindside block. As part of the new rule for this season, if a player forcibly contacts his opponent using his forearm, shoulder, or head while running toward or parallel to his own end line, this is a foul, which takes place in this play.

Process of the catch

In another highlight from the Colts-Bills contest, a Buffalo receiver jumped up to make a catch, and after falling to the ground, the back judge ruled a completed pass. However, after the play was challenged, it was shown that the receiver never gained full control of the ball prior to the ball hitting the ground, resulting in a reversal of the on-field ruling. As part of the new catch rules instituted last season, in order to make a catch, a receiver must establish control of the football, get both feet down, and make an act common to the game, such as a reach, a lunge, or a third step, among others.

Cameron Filipe
Cameron Filipe
Cam Filipe is a junior at the University of New Haven, majoring in forensic science. He has been involved in football officiating for seven years and currently works as a flag football official in college. This is his fourth season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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