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FJ Edwards owns, nails difficult call on Steelers lateral play

Week 14: Dolphins at Steelers (video)

week14An incredible ending to the game, as a multiple-lateral play could have given the Steelers a game-winning touchdown. Field judge Scott Edwards called the play dead, with Steelers receiver Antonio Brown stepping out of bounds.

Edwards could have let the play run out, and let replay sort it out. Instead, he clearly, decisively, and correctly ruled the play dead. This was a huge call, as there is no replay allowed of Edwards’ call. He may have had an assist by the line judge, but Edwards owns the call if he’s right or if he’s wrong.

He made the correct call in the end. While running full speed. And looking backwards.

It was what the late officiating director Jerry Seeman would call “a Super Bowl call” in the regular season. Edwards was an alternate to last year’s big game. Could this call propel him to an on-field assignment? Make a note of this.

Postscript: Had the play been ruled a touchdown, the lateral by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that went forward would have likely overturned the call to an illegal forward pass. However, referee John Parry would have had only 60 seconds to determine either the out-of-bounds or the lateral to overturn the call.

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Ben Austro
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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8 thoughts on “FJ Edwards owns, nails difficult call on Steelers lateral play

  1. Tremendous athleticism (and alertness) demonstrated by Edwards in his control of his own motion and his perspicacity on making this game-defining call.

  2. Great call on the out of bounds. But it seemed obvious to me in real time that Rothlisberger made a forward lateral. The refs should have caught that and thrown a flag.

  3. There is no possible way to establish a fixed position to observe every lateral, when the play is going all over the place (or with a full-width backward pass, shifting sides of the field). Pretty much stay loose and stick to your keys and your zone as best as possible. Above all, stay out of the way.

  4. For a good wing official, deep or not, this is not a difficult call. I do not know why all the props for a routine call of a runner moving down the sideline. On this play, his primary focus is the sideline and the runner – in or out? As soon as the runner touches paint, kill it. Pretty darn simple and it is clear the runner stepped out. Routine call, nothing special. This official kept a good cushion in icy conditions as he retreated ahead of the play. He was in a good position to see what was there to be seen – runner stepping OOB at the 5. There was nothing special or difficult about this call. The runner stepped out of at the 5 – kill it. The only thing that needed improvement was that as soon as the runner stepped OOB, the covering official needed to square up, come back to the spot, and as he comes back to the spot kill the clock, then hit the whistle. The whistle is unimportant here, yet this official seemed to think he needed to hit it. Rather, he should have given the proper signal as he came back to the spot – two arms. There is not a one arm signal as was provided here; this is clearly improper. As you see in the video, it looks poor giving an invalid signal (one arm). In any event, the footing was treacherous and this official did a very nice job moving smoothly and in control, down the sideline and because of this he was able to make this easy ruling. The issue on this play is what the heck is the short wing doing? Not sure if he was the H or the L (The H must start downfield as soon as pass is read – this short wing froze on the LOS. The L will hold the LOS until ball crosses, then get moving downfield.) Neither happened. This official whether the H or L was slow getting downfield. Then for some unknown reason, he started back upfield after being set up in nice position downfield. if you want to make an excuse for him that he came back upfield to observe the passes, he did not. This wing was situated at the exact spot when #7 threw an illegal forward pass. He was in perfect position to see this, and choked. No flag thrown. This would have been corrected by replay. In any event, this short wing who should have been trailing the runner, probably by about 15 yards if he had even the slightest athleticism (he does not, I have seen him move plus he has a protruding gut which is not as pronounced due to the baggy vinyl winter shirt). This short wing should have been in a good position to also see and rule on this play, if he had any athleticism. Remember, the short wing should be obtaining all spots up the field. The short wing was saved by the judge. In short, good routine call by the judge which saved the short wing’s butt. The short wing has zero situational awareness and should not be working a game of this caliber. But we all (should) know how that works. No accountability; no repercussions once you are “in.”

    Kudos for a top call in a tight situation should go to the B at the Vikings/Ravens game. That was a tough call in a tight situation and that official stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with that call at the end of the game.

  5. Agree with everything above.. Get the out-of-shape-guys off the field and major props to the ROOKIE BJ in Baltimore. Awesome call!!
    If a replacement had made that “GREAT” call at Pitts., would the props have been there? Of course not. Is ANYONE counting the regular ref. screw ups this season vs. the replacements? I have seen/read THREE different plays in the last 2 weeks labeled by players or bloggers as the “worst call ever.” I guess Lance Easley and company are off the hook. No media accountability either.

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