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Week 5 officiating video: Clocks, crowns, bubble screens, and hand fighting




NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino released the Week 5 Officiating Video and lead with something we’ve been covering all week. Some highlights include:

  • As we’ve covered, there was a game clock issue when the Steelers visited the Chargers on Monday night that led to side judge Rob Vernatchi sitting out this coming weekend, though the league isn’t calling it a suspension. Play clock issues are not reviewable, though Blandino insists that the league is now making sure the ‘right process’ is in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
  • When the 49ers were in the Meadowlands visiting the Giants Sunday night, we saw a penalty for contact with the crown of the helmet. Many say it’s not frequently called, yet Blandino said it is something called every time an official sees it, and there are three parts that have to happen for the flag to be thrown: the defender has to line up with the opponent, lower his head, and then make forcible contact. When those three things happen, a flag is thrown, and potentially a fine is assessed.
  • We’ve seen many more penalties for offensive pass interference lately, and that was no exception in Dallas during week five. Blandino discussed mechanics when there is press coverage on both receivers, and how each official has responsibility for each eligible receiver. During a play in Dallas, both the side judge and head linesman determined that contact happened by an offensive player within one yard, which constituted the pass interference flag from both officials. An added caveat to this is that a runner can jam to go up field and it isn’t considered a foul because he’s not blocking a defender, and running downfield.
  • Bubble screens were a factor in Detroit this pass weekend. The question was: when the screen occurred, where was the ball? If the block occurs at the same time the ball is caught, then it’s legal; if the block/contact happens before the ball is caught, it would be ruled an illegal block.
  • Hand fighting questions have become more popular this season, according to Blandino. Hand fighting is legal so long as the players are jockeying for position while trying to make a play on the football. It becomes pass interference when a defender chops the arm of a receiver while attempting to catch a pass.
  • It’s important to remember during a catch/no-catch situation that a player catching a ball and going to the ground must hold on to the ball all the way to the ground, if he hasn’t established himself as a runner. If he was a runner, and then loses the ball when hitting the ground, it’s not an incomplete pass however if he has not established himself as a runner and loses the ball while hitting the ground, it will be an incomplete pass. We saw this near the endzone in Atlanta this past week.
  • Finally, when the Bills visited the Titans last week, we saw a Bills pass that was ruled incomplete and because the Bills were discussing challenging it, they incurred a delay of game penalty. However, once either the defense or offense is fouled to delay a snap, they are no longer eligible to challenge the previous play. The pass that was ruled to not be a catch stood, because the Bills could not challenge it due to their delay of game penalty on the following play.
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