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NFL officiating video: Week 12 reminds us that officials do difficult work



Umpire Dan Ferrell (New England Patriots)

“They see it once, in real time, full speed,” Dean Blandino, the officiating vice president, opened his weekly video to the media. “Then we all get to evaluate them from multiple different angles with high definition, slow motion replay, so we understand where the standard is, and we are going to work to meet that standard, but our officials are very, very good at what they do.”

Out of over 29,000 plays this season, which averages roughly 160 per game, we’ve see just over four mistakes per game. Considering the number of decisions officials have to make, which is much more than 29,000, Blandino and the league see this as “talking about a very small number of mistakes.”

When the Patriots visited the Broncos Sunday night, timing and clock management was an issue. Remember, charged timeouts can happen in certain situations inside of two minutes, even if a team has no timeouts left. Football Zebras covered this excess timeout issue in our Quick Calls this past Sunday. Coaches and the league now want unusual starts communicated to not only the coaching staff and sidelines, but also the quarterbacks.

Also in Denver, Blandino agreed that the offensive pass interference call against Gronkowski was the right call, as Gronk created separation between him and the defender. The rule states that whether using an open hand, fist, or forearm, if the receiver creates separation, then that is offensive pass interference, but leaning in with no extension is not interference.

In Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day, replay rules and clock issues were discussed. When the ruling on the field was a touchdown by the visiting Bears was overturned after replay (because we were under two minutes), a ten-second runoff occurred with the clock inside one minute. The theory here is that had the call be correct on the field, the clock would have still been rolling for roughly ten seconds.

A catch/no-catch call has been another hot topic this season. In Seattle, a Seahawks defender was ruled to have intercepted a pass because he completed the process of the catch — going to the ground and rolling over — which ended the play, even if he subsequently lost control of the ball. The Steelers argued it was a simultaneous catch but since both players didn’t initially secure the ball at the same time and complete the entire process, it was correctly ruled an interception and not a simultaneous catch.

Finally, when the Eagles visited the Lions in Detroit, Blandino discussed how when a runner extends a ball over the goal line, then loses the ball, it’s still a touchdown. Since he was a runner and not a receiver, the rules are different. Had he been a receiver in the process of the catch, it would’ve been an incomplete pass.

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