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Official Review

Official Review #8: ‘You say controversial, I say interesting’ catch reviews

Vice-president of officiating Dean Blandino reviewed the Griff Whalen fourth down catch and the overturned Darren McFadden catch-fumble from Week 8 in “Official Review”




Vice-president of officiating Dean Blandino reviewed the following plays from Week 8 in “Official Review” (video):

  • Griff Whalen’s catch for the Colts on fourth down that was reviewed if the ball touched the ground. The evidence was inconclusive whether the ground helped him control the ball, not whether the ball did touch the ground. The review stayed with the call on the field.
  • A catch-fumble by Cowboys running back Darren McFadden was overturned to incomplete. Blandino said, “McFadden has to gain firm control of the ball first.” Because the ball is out of his control with the second foot down, McFadden did not have the ability to establish himself as a runner.

Notably absent from “Official Review” was Whalen’s catch near the sideline when he was ruled out of bounds, even though his foot was in the air over the sideline. The play cannot be reviewed solely to judge the status of the clock; some other element of possession or the spot relative to a first down or the end zone must be in play. If this was reviewable — for example, if the first-down marker was also a consideration — the most replay can do is assess a 10-second runoff, since there was less than a minute to go in the half.

Although it is understandable the that there is a clock advantage, that was an extraordinary tight call at the sideline made by both officials who are stationed directly on the sideline. We, at home, are not only able to watch in slow motion, but also observe two independent elements simultaneously (defensive contact at the back and the foot at the line) with the foreknowledge of the actions that had occurred (like whether there would be a ball-control issue, for example). At game speed, that call can go either way, and there was a consensus by two officials watching the line that Whalen made it out of bounds.

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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