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Quick calls: Week 2

Live overage of Week 2 calls and rules interpretations.



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)


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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