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Quick calls: Week 17

Live coverage of Sunday’s calls of the final games of the regular season.



Keep checking here for rolling coverage throughout the day on Sunday. If you see anything confusing, unusual, or controversial, please let us know.

Raiders at Chiefs

It is the end of a distinguished 25-year career for head linesman George Hayward. He officiated in 19 playoff games including 4 wild card playoffs, 10 divisional playoffs, 4 conference championships, and Super Bowl XLI in the 2006 season.

Vikings at Packers (video)

Packers tight end Richard Rodgers was ruled to have scored a touchdown, and the replay official needed to confirm Rodgers broke the plane of the goal.

If a player is attempting to break the plane of the goal and does not touch a body part down in bounds in the end zone, the player is considered an airborne runner. An airborne runner holds a special distinction to remove an advantage gained by using the sideline, and he must have the ball cross the plane inside, over, or into the pylon at the corner of the end zone. The advantage to the airborne runner is more pronounced if a player leaps for the end zone 3 yards away at an angle that allows him to cross the plane way out of bounds; by requiring the ball to make it to the pylon offsets that advantage.

Rodgers did not step in bounds in the end zone, but the replay official confirmed the call without having a full review.


Sun • 8:18 pm EST • Ben Austro


Buccaneers at Panthers (Deadspin video)

Bucs receiver Mike Evans argues as he walks by back judge Keith Ferguson, presumably over a non-call for defensive pass interference. After a flag is thrown by Ferguson, Evans changes his direction and continues shouting at Ferguson, drawing a second flag from side judge Alex Kemp. The Deadspin video has isolated the field audio, and it appears a few F-bombs were lobbed in Ferguson’s direction in addition to being confrontational. Bad words are not, in themselves, cause for an ejectable offense, but the confrontation and the persistence are.

Both flags were announced as separate fouls for “disrespectfully addressing an official.” Since they are fouls against an official, both fouls are enforced as between-downs fouls. This makes the 3rd-and-6 into a 3rd-and-36. Evans was ejected, which, by our count, is only the fourth ejection in the entire league this season (fifth, if you count the suspension served by Odell Beckham Jr.).


Sun • 7:10 pm EST • Ben Austro


Ravens at Bengals (video)

Ravens receiver Jeremy Butler was ruled to have caught the ball on a touchdown play. All aspects of a scoring play are reviewable by the replay official (not just the score itself), and the catch was determined to be trapped against the ground. The pass was reversed to incomplete.


Sun • 6:56 pm EST • Marcus Griep


Chargers at Broncos (video & video)

Broncos running back CJ Anderson breaks free for an 18 yard touchdown run. On review, replay reveals that Anderson’s knee was down prior to the ball breaking the plane, placing him down inside the 1 yard-line.

On the Broncos’ next play, quarterback Peyton Manning gave the ball to Anderson again who ran it in for a touchdown. The replay booth again called for a review, and replay again revealed that Anderson’s knee was down just prior to the ball breaking the plane of the goal line.

Now 2nd and goal for the Broncos, Anderson took the ball and backed his way into the end zone finally earning the touchdown without triggering a review from the replay booth.


Sun • 4:28 pm EST • Ben Austro


Patriots at Dolphins (video)

Dolphins receiver Greg Jennings makes a catch near the sideline, which is ruled incomplete because the ball touched the turf in Jennings’ attempt to reach for a first down. The Dolphins challenged the call.

In replay, it was determined that Jennings made his third step with the ball when he subsequently was brought down to the ground. Usually counting the number of steps after the second is not a consideration, however, the catch-rule modification for this season can make this a criteria. Jennings must transition to a runner to have completed the process of the catch, and the third step with control of the ball does that. Jennings technically is considered to have momentarily fumbled and resecured the ball, but the catch is complete.

If that third step was, instead, the second step, Jennings would be going to the ground prior to completing the process of the catch, then Jennings must maintain control to the ground. In that hypothetical, it would be incomplete.

Replay also spotted the ball short of the first down, so the Dolphins had a 4th-and-1. The Dolphins were unable to convert the first down.


Sun • 3:10 pm EST • Ben Austro


Washington at Dallas (video)

A catch by Cowboys tight end Jason Whitten is ruled out of bounds at the 1-yard line. A replay cannot give a player an advance after stepping out of bounds, however Whitten reached out over the plane of the goal on his way out of bounds. If replay can establish the ball breaks the plane first, the touchdown is awarded.

Whitten did not step out of bounds prior to the reach, however, to score the touchdown, the ball must cross the plane inside, over, or into the pylon. If it crosses outside of the pylon, it is considered short of the end zone.

Replay reversed the call to a touchdown.


Sun • 2:32 pm EST • Marcus Griep


Saints at Falcons (video)

Referee Craig Wrolstad reverses an incomplete pass ruling to a completion and touchdown for Saints tight end Benjamin Watson. While it initially appeared that Watson caught the pass and landed out-of-bounds, Watson’s knee touched the ground in the end zone before any other part of his body touched the sideline. Having established himself in-bounds, Watson maintained control through his contact with the ground, completing the process of the catch.


Sun • 2:24 pm EST • Ben Austro


Jets at Bills (video)

Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor scampers 18 yards with the ball contacting the pylon for a touchdown. Side judge Laird Hayes has the plane of the goal, and head linesman Steve Stelljes is watching Taylor’s foot at the boundary. Excellent mechanics by Hayes, as he delayed the touchdown signal to get the in/out of bounds call from Stelljes.


Sun • 1:53 pm EST • Ben Austro


Eagles at Giants

Referee Gene Steratore rules that the challenge flag by Eagles interim head coach Pat Shurmer did not precede the snap. In this case, the flag is picked up without a charged challenge or charged timeout. Since the crew had to stop the clock to discuss, Steratore reset the game clock to the time at the end of the play, and reset the play clock to 40.

Shurmer intended to challenge a call at the boundary (video), but there was no conclusive evidence that would have overturned the call.

There were no shots to show exactly when the challenge flag was thrown. Shurmer, interestingly, threw the challenge flag inside the numbers on the field, rather than in front of the head linesman on this sideline. This could have caused enough of a delay in recognizing the challenge request.


Sun • 1:39 pm EST • Ben Austro


Steelers at Browns (video)

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown fumbles the ball prior to his knee coming down, recovered by the Browns and run back for 9 yards.


Sun • 12:41 pm EST • Ben Austro


Today’s officials

Referee assignments for Week 17 (2015 crew rosters)


  • R23 Jerome Boger and BJ61 Keith Ferguson to Triplette’s crew (TB-CAR)
  • U102 Bruce Stritesky and HL8 Dana McKenzie (swing officials) to Coleman’s crew (STL-SF)
  • SJ95 James Coleman (swing official) to McAulay’s crew (JAX-HOU)
  • BJ133 Steve Freeman to Hussey’s crew (DET-CHI)

Note: Boger and Triplette swapped their assigned by weeks.

From Football Zebras editor Ben Austro

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