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Week 11 officiating video: That punt, that kickoff, and that loose-ball recovery


This week’s officiating video for the media from officiating vice president Dean Blandino covers what appears to be this season’s most difficult calls (video download).

  • As we broke down on Sunday, the fourth-quarter punt return by the Lions was negated by a replay of a Cardinals possession at the goal line. Blandino emphasized the two rules in play: possession of a kick by the kicking team is a dead ball, but if the ball (or the player in possession of the ball) go into the end zone, it is also a touchback.
  • In our quick calls on Sunday, we dissected the touchback vs. safety debate on a Patriots kickoff that was muffed by the Colts. A touchback was awarded, but Blandino acknowledges that this was close to the ball being ruled “nearly at rest.” This determination would swing the gate on who provided the impetus to put the ball in the end zone, which largely defaults to the team last in possession or, in this case, kicked. The resting-ball ruling was upheld by Blandino, inasmuch as a 2-point penalty would be harsh if there is a borderline determination.
  • A review that we summarized on Sunday involved a recovery of a loose ball by the Vikings on an incomplete ruling for the Bears. Recovery is permitted after the whistle in case of a replay reversal. Since the Vikings players stopped, and then recovered, there was no immediate recovery, and the Vikings were unable to win the challenge. Of note, Blandino said that the open-hand ruling (quarterback’s arm going forward without the ball) of a fumble or if it is incomplete is the referee’s call.
  • Holding fouls that occur nearly simultaneous to the end of the play are not fouls, unless the runner is tackled by the virtue of the holding. Conversely, illegal block above the waist will be called if it is simultaneous to the dead ball, because it is a player-safety issue. If the block is clearly late, the illegal block becomes an unnecessary roughness foul.
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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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5 thoughts on “Week 11 officiating video: That punt, that kickoff, and that loose-ball recovery

  1. This is a ridiculous explanation on the downing rule. You have to keep the ball out of the end zone (you explicitly said this); you also said that if the downer carries it into the end zone it will be a touch back. The downer was CLEARLY falling into the end zone. THAT IS WHY the downer passed the ball backward. Everyone thought it was live after that. Many times this rule has happened.
    You cannot possibly have us believe that the team can have it both ways. It is either a touchback or a live ball situation.
    The call on the field after review cannot possibly be the right call.

  2. Dave the NFL has spoken. they have CYA’s the officials and the league and you will get no more satisfaction from them.

    Its sad and hard to take, but they can “explain” any rule to cover what mistakes they make.

  3. That Viking fumble recovery gets my vote for dumbest interpretation of the week.

    The player stopped because of the whistle…then jumped on the ball. But the NFL won’t define “immediate” so, again, they CYA and move along. Nothing to see here.

  4. Certain teams just get no respect from NFL officials; the problem is greater on the road. The linesmen made two different bad spots in key situations in the Lions-Cardinals game-both disadvantage go the Lions. The negated punt return would NEVER have been called against a respected team.

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