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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.

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

  1. I think Blandino is trying to say there is no definitive straight on angle, but he said it poorly, and your point is valid.

  2. I think Blandino just makes it up as he goes along.

    But then I think the NFL can afford cameras on the goal line at every stadium. Maybe they can use the fine money from players wearing their socks wrong?

  3. That crew had a bad day, this wasn’t the only questionable call of the day. I agree that the whole idea of having two people making the decision in New York is so that they can be consistent. The thing is that so far they have only been consistent in defending questionable calls or in trying to explain that what we see on the field is really not what happened… I would prefer for them to say that it was a mistake and that the’ll try to learn from it. Great web page, thanks.

  4. Something has to be done about the bad calls in the NFL. If the referees made bad calls on both teams is 1 thing but to only make them on 1 team and not the other is another. Sometimes it looks like the referees are deciding who’s going to make the playoffs. I’m getting very angry about these Bad Calls they can make or break a team.

  5. In the second paragraph, you say that there is one camera angle showing the ball crossing the goal line and the reverse camera angle showing the “ball completely out of the end zone just as clearly”. If 2 different camera angles show 2 contradicting positions of the ball and each camera view is “just as clear” as the other, then this is wash. One angle shows a touchdown and the other shows the player down short of the goal line. Neither camera angle trumps the other one in this case. If one of the angles was obstructed or blurry, then the “clearer” angle would trump the other. But in this case, it seems that if both camera angles were equally clear, then neither would trump the other and the call would have to stand.

    Your point is definitely a valid one. Obviously, the ball can’t be both crossing the goal line and completely in the field of play at the same time without violating the laws of physics. It’s my understanding that the cameras are all synched with the same clock so that different camera angles can be viewed at the same time in order to get a look at several angles at the same, specific time. Without having seen the other camera angle (the one that shows the ball crossing the plane of the goal line), I can’t comment on whether this was a touchdown or not.

    My argument is simply that if you have 2 equally clear angles that show 2 different positions of the ball, then the only option would be to have the call on the field stand.

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