This week, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino covered noteworthy penalty enforcements throughout the league from Week 12. The video presented a rarely seen enforcement during kickoffs and punts (video download).
Over the past few seasons, the NFL has been moving toward designing rules and penalty enforcements to reduce the number of re-kicks throughout a game, and to instead present a post-kick enforcement option. In the match up between the Rams at Chargers last week, we saw just that scenario. After the snap, and during the kick, a receiving team player was flagged for using his left arm to wrap up a kicking team player attempting to advance down the field. The umpire determined this was a hold nearly simultaneous to the kicking of the ball down field. After the receiving team caught the ball, the kicker then was flagged for a low block below the waist on a receiving player making his way down field.
Here, we have two penalties that one would initially think (and used to warrant) a replay of the down. However, with the current rules, the illegal hold that was called against the receiving team happened after the kick, and even though the ball hadn’t physically changed possession, it is considered to have happened after the change of possession. This is applicable only because the receivers maintained possession throughout the down. Normally, if there were no other foul, the penalty by the receiving team would be enforced from the end of the kick. However, with the inclusion of the kicking team foul that occurred after the change of possession,
Combined with the kicking team penalty, this is a “double/after” enforcement (two fouls after a change of possession). In this case, the ball goes to the spot of the kicker’s foul, or where the ball became dead, whichever is further from the end zone for the new offense. Referee Carl Cheffers and his crew conferenced for several minutes to determine the proper enforcement, which meant the ball was placed where the illegal hold happened, not the end of the run (dead-ball spot). As determined by the league and according to the rules, this was the correct enforcement.
Other items Blandino covered this week:
- Defenseless player safety for snappers during field goals and extra points will continue to be a focus. Remember, a snapper during a field-goal or extra-point attempt has the same defenseless player protections throughout the play and cannot be hit by an opponent with direct, forcible contact to the head or neck area. If flagged, it’s a 15-yard penalty.
- In the Thursday night game between the Chiefs at Raiders, the Raiders sacked the quarterback and then celebrated in the Chiefs backfield, yards behind the quarterback. When the Chiefs lined up to snap the ball, the Raider defenders were still in the backfield, and then immediately called a time out. If they hadn’t called timeout, the play — if snapped — would have been blown dead. Think of the unabated to the quarterback rule, here.
- Also during the same game, Blandino also reviewed the difference between eligible and ineligible receivers. During a downfield pass play, the field judge released his hat to signal the Raiders receiver had stepped out of bounds. Before reestablishing himself in bounds, he was interfered with by a Chiefs defender. However, once a receiver steps out of bounds, he is then an ineligible receiver, and by rule, cannot be interfered with after the fact. Though the pass interference flag was thrown, John Parry’s crew conferenced and picked up the flag as the receiver was out of bounds. (There is an exception for a player who is out of bounds due to a foul, which did not apply here.)
- The basic foundation of instant replay is to determine if, after a challenged or reviewable play, there is indisputable evidence to overturn a call on the field, not to re-officiate a call. The NFL has been sticking to this standard and we see that reversals are down this season throughout the league. It is especially critical to determine possession and/or ball placement when the entire ball can be seen in the replay, as well as the exact position of the player. In New Orleans last Sunday night, this was key to a possession call when the Ravens visited the Saints which stood in replay due to inconclusive evidence.
Image: NFL photo