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Roundtable: Quick snap catches quarterback and referee off guard



sd-az ilm-bad-snap

To better understand some of the more complicated calls, we are happy to welcome back Larry Upson and Jim Daopoulos to the Football Zebras Roundtable. Both Larry and Jim worked as supervisors in the NFL officiating department; their weekly ritual was to exhaustively study game tapes and grade officials on their calls. Larry and Jim will evaluate plays selected by our staff with the help of our reader’s comments.

We will post a link to the video of the play in question when it is available. We also list the time and quarter so that you can also review the play on NFL Game Rewind (a paid service of the NFL that Football Zebras does not receive promotional consideration from).

[Note: Due to an editorial scheduling issue, we will update the post with Jim’s comments later.]

Cardinals’ quick snap

Chargers at Cardinals | 2:16 | 1st Quarter | 3rd & 4 at AZ 42

Situation: Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was in shotgun formation, then walked towards the line when the center snapped the ball (above photo). Palmer was able to throw a pass, which was incomplete. Defensive holding was called on the play.

Upson: Palmer should have been called for illegal motion for moving towards the line of scrimmage as the ball is being snapped. Therefore, this would have resulted in an offset with the subsequent defensive holding that was called.  The down should have been replayed from the previous spot.

Holding call nullifies interception

Chargers at Cardinals | 2:16 | 4th Qtr | 3rd & 8 at SD 33 | video (at 1:50)


Situation: Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is intercepted by Cardinals free safety Tony Jefferson. The interception is nullified for a defensive holding foul on Jefferson.

Upson: I don’t see much to call defensive holding on this play. You never see the defender grab or tug on the receiver’s jersey. If anything, why not call illegal contact on the defender for initiating contact with the receiver beyond 5 yards from the line of scrimmage? Or, why not call offensive pass interference on the receiver for shoving the defender to create space in an attempt to make the catch? I think at best this is a no-call situation, and the official should leave the flag in his pocket.

Flag pickup for holding

Bills at Bears | 2:54 | 4th Qtr | 3rd & 10 at CHI 30

Situation: Bears quarterback Jay Cutler completes a pass for 15 yards to Brandon Marshall. A flag was thrown, but referee Brad Allen announced, “there is no foul for offensive holding.”

Upson: I have no explanation for why the flag was picked up for offensive holding because it sure looked like the left tackle held the defender and would not allow him an opportunity to make a play on the quarterback. Some might say the hold is taking place as the ball is being delivered.  Yes, but the grab prevents the defender from jumping to block the ball.  I think this is a hold and should have been enforced as such.

Here is the grading card for the plays:

Upson Daopoulos
SD-AZ Cardinals’ surprise snap
SD-AZ Holding call nullifies interception
BUF-CHI Flag pickup for holding

Images: NFL/Game Rewind, ESPN, Fox Sports

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