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Week 1 remainders




Whenever we have a few loose items to cover, we will run a remainders column at the end of the week. Here are some things that got our attention:

Roughing the punter call stands

image In the first quarter of the first Monday night game, Lions special teamer Jerome Couplin drew a roughing-the-punter penalty for his hit on Steve Weatherford of the Giants. The foul stood, even though it appeared that a Giants lineman engaged Couplin in a block, potentially causing Couplin to crash into Weatherford.

Rule 12-2-10-f does give the defense a little bit of an out for contact after being pushed by a kicking team player:

No defensive player may run into or rough a kicker who kicks from behind the line unless such contact … occurs because a defender is pushed or blocked (causing a change of direction) into the kicker

In this case, Couplin doesn’t get relief from the rule, because he was clearly on a path to the punter, and any blocking did not fundamentally alter his trajectory. This item in the rules is intended for the defender who is really pushed off course into an unavoidable collision.

Also, this is a judgement call on the referee to determine, but the league will default to calling the foul. Borderline calls will always go in favor of calling a roughness foul. Strictly from a grading perspective, the referee won’t be downgraded for making the call, because the rules and league policy state he is to err on the side of safety. Conversely, he will be dinged if the officiating department deems it a foul and no flag is thrown.

Rules analysts squelched by yammering

On the second game of the Monday Night Football doubleheader, the Cardinals were marked short of a first down in the second quarter. It appeared that the Cardinals were considering challenging the spot, but wound up taking a timeout instead. Former NFL referee Jim Tunney is called upon as a rules analyst when ESPN has a second game, and it was expected that he would comment on the play.

Chris Berman, ESPN’s crusty old bloviator and pregnant pause virtuoso, was calling the play-by-play and seemed ready to bring Tunney in for the review with a loneliness set-up, and then …:

Jim Tunney in the booth with us, and nobody knows more about officiating than Jim Tunney: 31 years [as an] official in the NFL, 3 Super Bowls — you name it — Ice Bowl, et cetera. And, uh — they took a timeout. Jim shook his head to us, nope, they didn’t get it. That’s why they didn’t challenge, right? That had to be why they took a timeout.

Trent Dilfer took over the conversation, leaving Tunney silently nodding his head in the corner. Jim deserves better.

Alsp, in the first game of the doubleheader, rules analyst Gerry Austin was quickly name-checked by play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico as agreeing with the aforementioned roughing-the-punter penalty without any explanation as to the application of the rule.

Eagles happy with the officials — for now

Eagles center Jason Kelce told Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News that” target=”_blank”>the offense was pleased with the performance of Jeff Triplette’s crew, specifically that they kept pace with the Eagles’ high-octane offense.

That was a great officiating crew. They did an outstanding job of getting the ball set and letting us play fast. It was really good. The officials definitely limited how fast we could go numerous times last year. … Some officials really want to play fast. They want to get the ball set and let the game go. But other officials, quite frankly, stand over the ball and it takes forever to get going. You really don’t know what you’re getting from week to week.

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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