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Catches under review, interception wiped out by DPI: Roundtable discusses Week 9



Football Zebras Roundtable

There seemed to be quite a few calls to review this week, and more league office concessions of missed calls that I ever recall in a single week. To help us untangle the mess this week are former officiating supervisors Jim Daopoulos and Larry Upson.

Ground aids Lockette catch?

Football Zebras reviewed this play on Sunday night in a separate post. A catch by Seahawks receiver Ricard Lockette was upheld on review. Both Daopoulos and Upson disagreed with the call.

Texans slide out and bobbled; incomplete

Play: Texans receiver Andre Johnson catches a ball at the sideline and, while rolling on the ground, bobbles the ball (video at 3:53).

Ruling on the field: Initially ruled complete; on a Colts challenge, this was reversed to incomplete.

Daopoulos: The issue continues to be does the player control the pass to be awarded a catch…again, he must maintain control going to the ground throughout this process. Andre Johnson secures control, however he is going to the ground and as he rolls onto his back the ball appears to be loose and this causes the pass to be ruled incomplete. There is no specific time element, the referee must judge is the player in control throughout the process and I believe he rules correctly that Johnson did not control throughout this process.

Upson: In my opinion, the receiver doesn’t start losing possession of the football until he has been touch by the defender while out of bounds.  It appears the defender swipes the ball loose long after the play should have been dead.  I think this call should not have been reversed to an incompletion because it doesn’t clearly meet the criteria for going to the ground and losing the ball.  To me this is no different than a defender taking a ball from a runner while he is on the ground.  The play is dead once he has been touched down.

Dean Blandino, the vice-president of officiating, said on NFL Network that this reversal was correct while we were in the process of reviewing the play.

Woodhead catch stands

Play: During a catch by Chargers running back Danny Woodhead, he goes to the ground, loses control of the ball, and his helmet comes off (Game Rewind 4th quarter/6:47).

Ruling on the field: Completion and down by contact. The helmet came off after the dead ball. The play was challenged, and the call on the field was upheld.

Daopoulos: There are three elements to the completion of the catch: (1) secure the football, (2) get two feet on the ground, and (3) make a football move. Woodhead completed all three of these elements prior to heading upfield and this was correctly ruled a catch. The ball did come loose, however it was after the player was tackled to the ground so there was no fumble on this play. The contact to the runner’s helmet was legal since he was not a defenseless player and the defender did not lead with the crown of his helmet into the runner.

Upson: There must not have been enough video evidence to overturn this play.  It is very tight.  It appears that the runner is losing the ball before his knee touches, but I can’t prove it indisputably.  So, I support what was called in the game.  There is no penalty for the helmet getting knocked off.  Unlike college, the ball carrier can stay in the game after losing his helmet.

Seahawks interception nullified by penalty

Play: Seahawks defensive back Earl Thomas intercepts the ball, but …

Ruling on the play: Defensive pass interference was called on Thomas, nullifying the interception and giving the Buccaneers at the spot of the foul. This is not reviewable.

Daopoulos: Thomas  is called for defensive pass interference, and it certainly appears that he is looking back for the football, as required, and the contact that occurs is legal and non-restrictive. This is not a foul and the subsequent action should have been an interception for Seattle as the defender catches the pass and gets two feet down in bounds.

Upson: Yes, there was an apparent interception wiped out by an interference call.  I think the pass interference call is incorrect because the defender does nothing more than place an arm on the receivers body to feel for him as they are running downfield.  The defender is looking back for the ball and simply playing the receiver. He does not significantly impede the receiver in any way.

Seahawks coach Pete Carrol: They told me it shouldn’t have been called. When a defensive back placed his hands in an arm-barring position, they have to decide if he actually impeded the progress of the receiver. If you don’t, then it’s not a foul. That’s what they determined. I want to applaud those guys for getting to the truth. We wanted to be clear on telling our players if they can place their hand on the receiver. It was very incidental. Next time, they’ll call it the other way.

Here is the grading card for the plays, including the league office ruling where known:

  Daopoulos Upson NFL
Lockette catch stands
Ding Ding  
Johnson catch ruled incomplete
Checkmark Ding Checkmark
Woodhead ruled down by contact Checkmark Checkmark  
Thomas interception nullified Ding Ding Ding

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

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)

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