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First-year BJ Dale Shaw ices tight call on Ravens’ epic game-winning TD

shaw mbrown Rookie officials get their trial by fire at some point of their first season.   Rookie back judge Dale Shaw faced his trial in a frigid Week 14 in Baltimore between the Ravens and Vikings.   In a game where the lead and momentum switched back and forth several times in the fourth quarter, the outcome finally came down to a toe-tapping catch by receiver Marlon Brown on the end line that gave the Ravens an emotional, hard-fought victory over the Vikings (video).

First of all, Shaw employed excellent mechanics.   He was in the proper place, straddling the end line.   He made sure to watch the receiver’s feet come down in bounds first, then he and side judge Rob Vernatchi (#75) looked at each other to made sure the ball was secure.   Once both were satisfied that the catch was good, both went up with the touchdown signal.

On that play, it was Shaw’s responsibility to make sure the feet land in bounds.   He had to concentrate, find the end line through the snow, and then make his ruling.   Watching to see if the feet come down in bounds is very difficult.   Shaw couldn’t blink, sneeze, or have a snowflake fly into his eye — or he would have missed the call.   It takes intense concentration, and officials train their mind to slow down and process the play almost like a slow-motion projector.   It takes many years of experience to learn this technique, but the rookie Shaw showed great skill in mastering the mechanics needed to make this game-deciding call.

Rookie officials are, by rule, not assigned to playoff games. (I think the great Ron Botchan was the last rookie to get a playoff assignment was in 1980.) Shaw definitely gets high marks for making this great call at the end of the game — a game the Ravens desperately needed to keep their playoff hopes alive.   If this his how he makes calls in his first year, look for big things from him as a veteran.  

Image: Baltimore Ravens photo

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Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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5 thoughts on “First-year BJ Dale Shaw ices tight call on Ravens’ epic game-winning TD

  1. GREAT call! Fantastic work. MUCH better than the so-called “call of the year” in Pittsburgh. Rule that rookies can’t work playoffs is bogus. Put the best officials out there, period. Looks like two ‘veterans’ missed 12 on the field in tonight’s game, yet they could work playoffs over a rookie who makes that great call. All the luck to Dale Shaw to get a post-season assignment.

  2. This post is totally garbage and farce. I am so disappointed in Oberver2’s comments and Ben’s post. You two are a disgrace for officiating commentary. Dale Shaw was the back judge that incorrectly called 2 critical PIs on Minnesota. The calls were so bad that VP of Officiating Dean Blandino had to personally call Leslie Frazier to clarify. Dale Shaw and Dale SHaw was a poor and bad hire by the NFL and the NFL clearly regrets hiring him; there are so many better back judges in College better than DALE SHAW. There is no way rookie officials gets to work playoff games, they are inexperienced and they become easily influenced, just like Dale Shaw. This is why there was many inconsistent calls regarding PI in the Minnesota game and this is why I hope Dale Shaw will never get an playoff assignment in his career!!!!!!!!! And no I am not an Vikings fan.

  3. This observation was made on ONE call in comparison to the so-called ‘call of the year’ the same day. Moreover, I have seen plenty of “experienced,” out-of-shape, slow officials make HORRIBLE calls this year time and again. Experience does not mean better. Did you see Hochuli face the wrong way in announcing a penalty this season? Of course, b/c he was “experienced.”

  4. Does Ed Hochuli facing an wrong way hurts a team’s chance to win the game or affects the outcome of the game like Dale Shaw’s despicable PI calls? No I don’t think so!

  5. Just shows that praising and criticing is fickle and that experience on no way = better officiating as you imply.

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