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Week 1 officiating video: When confirmed does not actually mean confirmed

Dean Blandino released his officiating video today addressing specific situations from week one of the NFL season




NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino released his officiating video today addressing specific situations from week one of the NFL season (video) .

Blandino addressed the automatic review from Monday night’s Steelers versus Redskins game. He reiterated that automatic reviews are generated on scoring plays and turnovers and that for automatic reviews, the replay official is governed by parameters of the replay. The replay official cannot look at an aspect of that play that is not reviewable. They can look at the catch, whether the receiver was inbounds, or if the offense had 12 men on the field. Potential penalties like offensive holding or hands to the face are not reviewable plays.

However, in this particular instance, a Steelers defender intercepted a pass in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. It’s not obvious if the defender had possession of the ball, which ordinarily triggers a review. However, the replay official determined that a review would not have had an impact on the game due to the score and the time remaining. The call of “confirmed” was technically not a confirmation, but rather the replay official declined a stop-down review.

This is probably an incomplete pass … but it’s not obvious. It’s not an obvious error. And the key – because the score was 38-16, and there was only 16 seconds left on the clock at the end of the play — there’s no reason to stop the game. There’s no competitive impact on the outcome of the game due to this play. And the replay official has that discretion.

If this is a one-score game, absolutely, we’re going to stop the game. Here … it’s not an obvious mistake, the replay official can let this go, because it’s not going to impact the outcome of the game. …

And so, when we say it was confirmed, that could mean the replay official determined the play was not going to have an impact on the outcome of the game, which is the case here.

Blandino covered the catch rule in three specific situations.

  • In the same Monday night game, Antonio Brown caught a pass and appeared to fumble. However, replay confirmed that he did not become a runner and the pass was ruled incomplete. Blandino stressed that the replay officials will watch the replay at full speed and in slow motion. Slow motion allows the replay official to confirm the aspects of the catch rule (control, two feet time, time ward off contact). In this case, slow motion confirmed that Brown did not have time to ward off contact and barely had two feet down. Full speed replay confirmed this was a “bang-bang” play where he had two feet, contact, and lost the ball in the same instant. Blandino also stressed that slow motion replay distorts the time element. 
  • In the Giants-Cowboys game, a Dez Bryant catch came loose when he hit the ground and after replay, the catch was ruled incomplete. Blandino stated that the replay officials were looking to see that if any part of the body was touching the sideline, it would be ruled an incomplete pass even though there was no evidence the ball touched the ground. In this case, Bryant lost control of the ball while he was touching the sideline. If this same play occurred without sideline involvement, the lack of evidence of the ball touching the ground would have ruled this a completed pass.
  • The same play occurred in the Colts game as well. Blandino stated the difference was that the receiver had a good catch when he pinned the ball to his shoulders, and lost control after he was completely on the ground after he rolled over. The rollover is not part of the process after he secures it, and replay confirmed it was good catch.

Lastly, Blandino covered fouls at or near the goal line. In the Colts-Lions game (image above), the Colts’ tight end was penalized for holding that resulted in the Lions defender being taken to the ground in the end zone. However, it was not ruled a safety, and he clarified with video, the penalty (holding) was initiated in the field of play and not in the end zone. The key is looking at where the foul was initiated, not where it ended.

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