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‘Official Review’ Week 10: tuck rule overrule, running clock, process of catch



NFL Network revives ‘Official Review’ segment with false start

(video 1) (video 2)

Update: This post was published when uploaded only one of the videos this afternoon, and now our commentary reflects the segment broadcast on NFL Network.

Hope you were not rescheduling your appointments around this one! Despite the fact that there were at least three controversial judgment calls this week, the NFL Network decided to go off the board and select three rather pedestrian calls for the reboot of the once-shelved “Official Review” segment:

  • The “obvious timing error” in the Rams-49ers game when the game clock that continued to run during a stoppage for a measurement.
  • An example of the recurrent “process of the catch” ruling which happened during the Colts-Jaguars game.
  • An incomplete pass on Monday night by the Steelers that was initially ruled a fumble return for a touchdown. After the apparent score, the Chiefs were flagged for a group celebration.

Weak, weak tea.

Carl Johnson and Dean Blandino — the vice-president of officiating and the head of replay officiating, respectively — tag-teamed the segment, with Johnson focusing on the field, and Blandino under the hood. Their choice of topics should have focused on these plays — let alone, even one of these plays:

However, the choice of plays reflected a much smoother road with a few easily avoided potholes.

The clock issue in the Rams-49ers game, while controversial, really was nothing to discuss, because it was a plain-on-its-face error.

The process of the catch rule was news in 2009, and most notably to Lions receiver Calvin Johnson in 2010. After asking oddly elementary setup questions, NFL Network host Fran Charles admitted this was, in fact, old news.

The replay reversal that took away a Chiefs touchdown, but retained the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was summarized by us during the game in one tweet. But, as long as we are discussing this tuck-rule play from the Chiefs-Steelers game, this was very clearly a fumble without the benefit of replay. Because of the incorrect initial call, replay had to sort out the call, and in the end the Steelers were awarded a first down. (This does not take responsibility away from the Chiefs for committing a stupid penalty, but they are a bit distracted by turf that’s painted a color other than green.)

It seems that Mr. Johnson will just describe a handful of complex, but noncontroversial, calls each week, end with “this play was properly officiated,” and see you next week.

The crew errors, however, were handled by the communications department press releases earlier this week, attributed to no one (every one we receive is carries the disembodied “statement by an NFL spokeman” heading). And the role of real critical review has been abdicated to former NFL employees — former vice-president of officiating Mike Pereira and former officiating supervisor Jim Daopolous — on media outlets not owned by the league, and out of the NFL’s control.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)