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Quick calls: Week 2

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

Process of the catch calls

Senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino addresses some of the catch calls from Week 2.

Ben Austro
Mon Sep 19 • 12:17 am EDT


Seahawks at Rams (video)

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was livid with a pass interference call on receiver Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter. Kearse does give minimal, but unnecessary, contact. However, cornerback Troy Hill can be seen partially off balance, which gives a small degree of separation from Kearse.

Carroll was also seen complaining about a timeout call that was not immediately granted in the same overt gestures in this video

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 18 • 9:15 pm EDT


Dolphins at Patriots

From the comments:

Nick R. says:

Pass interference on the offense can only be called more than 1 yard from the line of scrimmage. The defense gets 5 yards. This is a legal pick.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 18 • 9:06 pm EDT


Bengals at Steelers

img_20160918_201846194.jpgBengals tight end C.J. Uzomah was ruled out of bounds on a catch on the end line. A replay angle showed that Uzomah got a shin down seemingly in bounds before touching out of bounds. The basic rule is any body part — other that the hand, wrist, or ankle — that touches counts as two feet down.

Since the ruling on the field was no score, any replay review would have to come from a coach’s challenge. This is where a coach must make an evaluation. As this angle shows (the only one shown between plays — there might have been others), Uzomah was probably in bounds, but without a shot down the end line, it is not clear if he is entirely in bounds.

Had this been challenged, I would expect the decision to be “stands,” which is a lost challenge.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 18 • 7:52 pm EDT


Titans at Lions (video)

A sloppy game in Detroit leads to extra air time for referee Brad Allen. Of the penalties called in video clip, the push off on Eric Ebron is the only one I question. The rest of the calls were there.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 18 • 6:34 pm EDT


Bengals at Steelers (video)

img_20160918_174628720.jpgOn the first play from scrimmage after the 2-minute warning in the fourth quarter, Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd fumbled the ball over to the Steelers. It appeared as if Boyd was down by contact before losing the ball, but it was ruled in replay as “stands.” Why?

Outward appearances are that the contact by Steelers linebacker James Harrison caused Boyd to lose the ball. This is the most likely and most plausible explanation. However, under the strict-interpretation standard set — ever since VP/refs Dean Blandino has been an active part of the replay process — we can’t go with looks like/seems like.

Since the ball is not visible at the point when Boyd’s knee is down, replay can’t make an objective determination as to where the ball is. Even though Harrison’s contact comes after Boyd’s knee is touching the turf, the replay review cannot make a determination on the ball when it is not seen. The way Boyd has the ball tucked, it is not seen on three different angles.

Although this particular play was under the replay official’s jurisdiction to call for a review, coaches must keep this strict interpretation in mind when challenging a call. You don’t go with your gut on a challenge; you only go with what is clearly visible.

Update: Dean Blandino addresses the call on Twitter.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 18 • 6:24 pm EDT


Falcons at Raiders (video)

Michael Weems of the Falcons cracks off a nice punt return and line judge Julian Mapp properly calls a horse collar tackle a the end.

During long punt and interception returns, the NFL usually wants to see the “lead” wing, Mapp in this case, try and stay ahead of the play and be at the goal line when/if the ball carrier arrives.  

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 18 • 6:14 pm EDT


Buccaneers at Cardinals (video)

Back judge Greg Yette does a nice job calling this Michael Floyd toe-tapping TD.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 18 • 6:08 pm EDT


Saints at Giants (video)

Eli Manning fumbles the ball away to the Saints.  

What’s notable on this call is the calm, under control mechanics used by referee Gene Steratore and umpire Bill Schuster. Sometimes younger officials on a lower level use frantic, or big signals because they get excited on a surprise play, excellent play, or turnover.  

Officials should wait to sell the call with a big signal if it is a tough call, not an exciting call. It comes with discipline and experience.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 18 • 5:59 pm EDT


Jaguars at Chargers (video)

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles fumbles and the Chargers’ Corey Liuget. Referee Carl Cheffers makes the call.

On another note and you see it for just an instant. The Chargers’ bench is celebrating, and the coaches are pulling assistants back off the sideline. This is a special point of emphasis this year to keep all assistant coaches off the field. The head coach is only allowed on the field to call timeout and check on an injured player.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 18 • 5:30 pm EDT


Saints at Giants (video)

Victor Cruz fights off a Saints’ defender to secure a 35-yard grab. If the official ruled “joint possession” with both players holding the ball, by rule possession would have stayed with the Giants.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 18 • 5:16 pm EDT


Ravens at Browns (video pending)

img_20160918_162656883.jpgOn a potential go-ahead drive, Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor caught a 20-yard pass down to the Ravens 10-yard line. During the play, a defensive holding penalty was called. At the conclusion of the play, Pryor tossed the ball and it landed on cornerback Ladarius Webb. A taunting flag was thrown on Pryor.

Look, you could make a case that Pryor’s intent was to toss the ball to the official and not show up his opponent. But, with Webb between Pryor and side judge Allen Baynes, and the ball being flipped almost straight up in the air, Pryor loses the benefit of the doubt. The ball lands on Webb’s shoulder, meaning Baynes would have to reach completely over Webb to get the ball. The argument that this wasn’t the intent now put the onus on the officials to make the determination, rather than the player being aware of a point of emphasis that was clearly spelled out in training camps. Head linesman Wayne Mackie threw the flag, and the consensus from both Mackie and Allen was that it was a foul.

The other explanation is that maybe Webb cannot accurately throw the ball 6 feet.

Yes, this is a crucial call at a critical time of the game, but it still is entirely supportable by the rules and by the league’s emphasis of those rules.

Because live- and dead-ball fouls combine, they offset and cause the down to be repeated. This wiped out the 20-yard reception in the process. The Browns were intercepted on the next play.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 18 • 4:01 pm EDT


Titans at Lions (video)

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was tackled low by Titans linebacker Jurrell Casey as he released a pass. Stafford was livid with referee Brad Allen following the next play, and for good reason. A quarterback cannot be forcibly contacted in the knee area or below. Even though Casey is on the ground, he can’t take a shot at the lower leg of the quarterback, which has been the cause of season-ending injuries, profoundly impacting teams’ seasons.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 18 • 3:52 pm EDT


Dolphins at Patriots


Umpire Undrey Wash was injured in the fourth quarter, but did not miss a down


Ben Austro
Sun Sep 18 • 2:22 pm EDT


Ravens at Browns (video)

A Browns extra-point kick is blocked, and returned by Tavon Young of the Ravens. Before the 2015 season, this was a dead ball, but a rule change makes this a two-point score for the defense. What was to be a 21-0 lead by the Browns became 20-2, netting a 4-point touchdown for the Browns.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 18 • 2:09 pm EDT


Bengals at Steelers (video)

A touchdown catch by Steelers tight end Xavier Grimble was reviewed. Two things in under review: was a the catch process completed and did the ball break the plane of the goal before Grible’s knee touched.

The call from replay was “stands” which could not be the call on the knee-down ruling, because there is sufficient evidence to rule that as “confirmed.” It appears that the ruling of “stands” is to not make a judgement on whether Grimble had transitioned to a runner, the third component of the process of the catch. When Grimble lands in the end zone, the ball comes loose upon touching the ground, which makes an incomplete pass if and only if Grimble is considered to be still completing the catch process. In such a case, the receiver must maintain possession going to the ground.

Grimble did, however, tuck the ball and make a deliberate lunge for the end zone under his own power, as oppose to a player who is just falling to the ground. The call from the booth should have been “confirmed,” but apparently someone in the officiating command center decided to punt on the judgement and rule it “stands.” Either way, the touchdown call is unaffected, though.


Ben Austro
Sun Sep 18 • 1:46 pm EDT


Dallas at Washington

img_20160918_131905351.jpgLooks like a long day ahead for Bill Vinovich’s crew with receiver Dez Bryant and cornerback Bashaud Breeland tangling early in the first quarter.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 18 • 1:04 pm EDT


Referee assignments


  • R4 Craig Wrolstad heading Terry McAulay’s crew
  • R34 Clete Blakeman heading Wrolstad’s crew

Swing officials

  • U129 Bill Schuster to Steratore’s crew (NO-NYG)
  • U124 Carl Paganelli to Anderson’s crew (GB-MIN)
  • LJ90 Mike Spanier to Hussey’s crew (BAL-CLE)
  • FJ95 James Coleman to Allen’s crew (TEN-DET)
  • SJ89 Jon Lucivanski to Wrolstad’s crew under Blakeman (ATL-OAK)


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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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24 thoughts on “Quick calls: Week 2

  1. KC @ HOU. Offsides on HOU, then Intercepted by HOU. Excessive Celebration foul on HOU. Took the Offside, and the Celebration foul “refused”?

  2. Pete Morelli’s crew is awful! Missed offensive holding calls all day. A blow TD call in the back of the end zone ruled out of bounds. And a upon review let a fumble stand on Tyler Boyd that Pittsburg radio announcers and CBS TV announcers all said it was not a fumble, The ball clearly came out after his knee was down!

  3. What the hell with Morelli’s crew? PI-worthy contact against Antonio Brown all day, including in the end zone. So many holding penalties shoulda been called. And that was not a fumble at the end. Awful.

  4. WOW, on Boyd’s fumble…there were several replay views and the ball was solidly secure in Boyd’s arm, his knee down when contact occurred. TV Commentators, both Cinn & Pitt radio networks and anyone that saw the play beside Pete Morelli’s, the replay crew and I guess yourself thought otherwise. The NFL has to do something about officiating. It continues to worsen. SMH how in the world can you justify this ruling.

  5. NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pareira on his Twitter said of the Boyd fumble play: “If I have to bet my bottom dollar, I think he’s down.”

  6. Nice basketball-style directional mechanic by Steratore in the Manning fumble video, gearing up for hoops season in a couple months

  7. In the Patriots game there was a flag thrown for Offensive Pass Interference against the Dolphins, however in their explanation for picking up the flag they said the “contact occurred at the line of scrimmage, therefore there is no foul”. Can you explain how a pick play can be run if contact was at the line of scrimmage without being OPI? Thanks.

  8. they say holding occurs every play? Walt Anderson’s crew was horrible in sunday night game. Clay Matthews was collared multiple times but not one holding call against Minnesota the entire game. Two correct holding called against Green Bay. no consistency.

  9. On the Eli Manning fumble, 99 (who subsequently recovered the fumble) grabbed Manning’s jersey within the horse collar area, but wasn’t able to pull him down. Would this still be a horse collar tackle, or does he need to actually impede or tackle the player for the personal foul?

  10. Yes Derek, for a horse collar tackle to be called, the person must grab inside the jersey or pads, and change the direction of the person being tackled. A player can legally grab inside the pads and push the person forward. A person can grab the jersey by the letters and jerk the person down and it not be a horse collar. A horse collar is only a foul if the player gets his hand inside the jersey or the pads and changes the direction of the person being tackled.

  11. Sorry Bill new definition this year. The NFL beginning in 2016 is now including grabbing on to the name plate or above in the horse collar tackle definition. So, grab the jersey at the name plate and pull the runner to the ground, you are guilty of a horse collar tackle.

  12. Tampa @ Arizona. 2nd Q 5:23. How did R miss that punt return went OOB after AZ challenged? It was so obvious.

  13. Ravens @ Brown, the defense gained yards by committing holding. There ought to be a better system than just offsetting the fouls.

  14. Ben,
    As always thanks for the great response. I probably should have realized it since otherwise screen plays wouldn’t really be possible.

  15. Monday Night Football: Did the officials miss the 2nd half kickoff return where the Philadelphia returner stepped out of bounds about 20 yards before the point where he was officially driven out?

  16. Refs missed two huge calls in KC @ HOU. Hopkins used Offensive PI to score a TD on Peters (Peters had his arms spread out to show he wasn’t initiating the contact), then they made a phantom holding call on a 105 yd kickoff return by Tyreek Hill. Just awful.

  17. In the Boyd Fumble, there was a 4th angle that clearly showed the ball tucked in his arms, knee down, and Harrison making contact. Funny, that was the only angle not used by Blandino in his explanation. I can’t share the video link, because it has since been taken down due to copyright infringement. Go figure.

  18. How interesting. I found a 5th angle that clearly showed the ball already coming loose before the knee was down. Unfortunately, I can’t share the video link because it has also since been taken down due to copyright infringement. Go figure.

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