Dean Blandino, NFL vice-president of officiating, released his weekly video highlighting several penalties and rules highlights throughout the league for Week 4 (video download). We’ve wrapped them up for you here:
- Blandino hinted that a new point of emphasis for the league going forward would be illegal formations. He highlighted an illegal formation during the Colts-Jaguars game from week 3 in which a tackle (or two, perhaps, according to the video) lined up with a slight advantage behind the ball. While referencing it in week 4 during a punt return, Blandino stated that the mechanic is first to warn the player (if its not deemed egregious by the official), and then flag it. We should expect to see more emphasis on illegal formations going forward.
- We also got a refresher today on the basic 10-second runoff rule. Remember, inside the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters, replay reversal can result in a 10-second runoff. We covered this on Sunday as it was happening. In the contest between the Falcons and the Vikings, a Vikings touchdown was overturned to down at the one-yard line, creating a 10-second runoff and the ball was placed on the 1-yard line. In this instance, the referee will approach the defense first to ask if they want the runoff (Atlanta affirmed they did want the runoff). To avoid the runoff, Minnesota could have chosen to take a timeout, but they declined.
- You may have seen the touchdown catch by San Francisco wide receiver Stevie Johnson. Johnson caught the ball while in the end zone, ensuring the ball broke the plane. He was then immediately shoved out of bounds by Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Cary Williams. Johnson was granted forward progress at the point where he secures the ball with two feet down. The subsequent step of maintaining possession is critical for completing the process of the catch; but the spot of the catch is granted in the end zone. Johnson clearly did this and it was correctly ruled a touchdown on the field.
- Finally, Blandino discussed the rules of an onside kick and referenced the surprise onside kick Sunday during the game between the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. When a ball is kicked directly into the ground, all fair catch rules go away and the receiver cannot then have direct, unimpeded access to the ball since it was not kicked into the air. In this case, the receiver was contacted beyond 10 yards but it is legal, because the ball was kicked into the ground. This resulted in a successful onside kick by the Colts.