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


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.

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

  1. Glenn, there are degrees of training. Likewise, there are people that are better at certain tasks than others.
    Perhaps I’m giving America too much credit, but I do not believe these part-timers are the best referees the US has to offer.

  2. many people are calling for “FULL” time officials in football??? It doesn’t work it works in other sports because the teams play more than one game a week. If you are full time in football, what do you do for six days??? I assure you watching film is not the answer, you can only watch so many films.

  3. Maintain a better level of fitness, even rest. Maybe what we’re seeing is the effect of referees preoccupied with their law firms/etc. while they officiate…

  4. A…I GUARANTEE on the life of my child these are NOT the “best” 117 football officials in the country.

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