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Wilson TD stands under replay’s disputable calls of indisputable evidence




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Referee Carl Cheffers stated that a touchdown by Seahawks tight end Luke Wilson would stand.

The camera down the goal line appears to clearly have the tip of the ball crossing the plane of the goal line when Wilson’s butt touches the ground. The reverse angle (above) shows Wilson with the ball completely out of the end zone just as clearly. Vice president of officiating Dean Blandino essentially said this is a wash, and that the call on the field stands.

This does not seem to match up with the rules of replay: if one angle is definitive, then that trumps the ones that are not. If we are reviewing a fumble, and only one angle shows a fumble, but the others do not — it’s a fumble as long as that one angle has incontrovertible evidence. In this case there is a clear angle showing the ball outside of the end zone. There is no justification to leave the ruling as “stands.”

While there has been some degree of consistency by centralizing replay — de facto centralized, as it is up to the referee to decide to go with his boss’s call or his own — there have been glaring cases of replay making some questionable and inconsistent calls. Largely, these are anchored on catch/no-catch calls, but in this case, there is objective criteria: player down by contact, direct angle down the plane of the goal, and a clear view of the entire ball.

It is one thing for there to be a lack of consistency between referees and crews, but when there are two people making the decision in New York — Blandino and senior supervisor Al Riveron — it is unusual to have this degree of inconsistency.

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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