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Patriots no-holding call, Cowboys loose ball on punt: Roundtable examines Week 6 calls



pats saints gwtd

Everything on the receiving end indicated touchdown for the Patriots with ten seconds remaining. What about behind the line of scrimmage? [Keith Nordstrom/New England Patriots]

Football Zebras Roundtable

We asked our officiating roundtable to review the Patriots game-winning touchdown for a possible holding foul and a Washington punt with an interesting recovery. Helping us interpret the call are two former officiating supervisors, Jim Daopoulos and Larry Upson. They were responsible for reviewing game film each week to determine the grades for all of the officials.

Patriots no-hold

Play: On the Patriots game-winning touchdown, it appears that left tackle Nate Solder committed a holding foul (video, see angle from behind quarterback)

Ruling on the field: No penalty was called.

Jim Daopoulos: The Patriots left tackle, number 77, is in good position initially, as the defender beats him to the outside. There is a potential “rip” but the blocker’s feet are beaten. This block certainly appears to be a hold, but what you must consider is the timing of the action. As Tom Brady releases the pass, the defender gets twisted, and normally a call would not be made for this action, since it occurs just as the pass is being released. Had Brady held onto the ball longer and then thrown the pass, I feel offensive holding should have been called. However, in this situation, the officials correctly did not make a call for offensive holding.

Larry Upson: In my opinion, there is a definite hold by the left tackle.  The umpire, referee or the line-of-scrimmage official should have made this call.  This is a foul and should have been called regardless of the outcome of the play.  At no point are officials ever to ignore a foul.

Punt wasn’t touched, he was blocked into it

Play: On a Washington punt, a Dallas player was blocked into the ball and it was recovered by Washington. The video is embedded below and is presented here for critical review.

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Ruling on the field: Punt downed by Washington. Walt Anderson’s crew determined that the Cowboys player was blocked into the ball, and considered to have not touched it under Rule 9-2-4:

There is no distinction between a player touching a ball or being touched by it, but a player is not considered to have touched the ball if he is blocked into it by an opponent, provided he is in a passive position and not blocking. A player who is engaged with and blocking his opponent when he contacts the ball is deemed to have touched the ball.

Because of that ruling, it is not reviewable.

Jim Daopoulos: This punt play was a very unique situation. As the ball was kicked and bouncing around, Dallas #20 was in a blocking position (not knowing the status of the ball), and as he attempted to block Washington #45, the football bounced into his backside. This is a touch by the receivers and the ball, when recovered by Washington, should have been given to the Redskins. Rule 9, Section 2, Article 4 explains blocked into the kick. The ruling by the crew was the Dallas player was passively blocking. I disagree, as I feel he was not standing waiting for the play to be completed, he was looking at the Washington player and prepared to block him. Passive blocking is when the kick has not been touched and players are standing around waiting for it to stop rolling, and then a player blocks another into the ball. That’s passive blocking when the player being blocked has not intention of contacting his opponent.

Larry Upson: In my opinion, the Dallas player is not in a passive position when he is contacted by the ball.  At the exact point when the ball strikes him, he is assuming a defensive posture to deliver a block on the Washington player trying to cover the punt. To me the Dallas player is an active participant in keeping the Washington player from the punted ball.


Here is the grading card for the plays:

  Daopoulos Upson
Patriots not called for holding
Checkmark Ding
Cowboys ruled to have not touched punt
Ding Ding

Football Zebras Roundtable is a periodic feature we will present on an ad-hoc basis to analyze select calls with experts.

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Patriots no-holding call, Cowboys loose ball on punt: Roundtable examines Week 6 calls

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)