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Week 5

Quick calls: Week 5

Liveblog coverage of the calls and rules interpretations in Week 5.



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

Bengals at Cowboys

grounding-daltonBengals quarterback Andy Dalton was flagged for intentional grounding for an incomplete pass that caromed off of lineman Andrew Whitworth’s rear end. The argument against intentional grounding is that halfback Giovani Bernard was in the direction of the pass. What works against that is that the pass has to land in the area of an eligible receiver and have a realistic chance of completion. While Dalton does get consideration that Whitworth was blocked into the path of the pass, it would not reach the area that Bernard was in. Referee Tony Corrente explained that the only eligible receiver was not in the pocket, and the pass was not destined to leave the pocket even if unobstructed.

If Dalton’s pass was ruled to be intentionally into his lineman, it would be a foul for an illegally touched pass.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 9 • 11:59 pm EDT


Giants at Packers

With 2½ minutes remaining, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a pass to running back James Starks, who juggled the ball before the ball disappeared from view in a scrum. The ruling on the field was that there was a catch; as the official scorekeeper recorded it, it was a catch, fumble, and recovery.

The clock stopped briefly at 2:30 while officials determined possession, but then was wound on Hochuli’s signal. Giants coach Ben McAdoo took his final timeout.

One of the replays showed that the ball appeared to touch the ground. The Giants, prior to using the timeout, could have used the challenge of the recovery — any challenge for that matter — to stop the clock instead. If the play was reversed to an incompletion, the Giants get a clock stoppage and a clock correction. If ruled inconclusive, the Giants would be charged the timeout that they intended to use anyway. Instead, the Giants were unable to challenge, because they just spent their last timeout.

If a timeout was not called, and the Packers ran the clock to the two-minute warning without a snap, the Giants would still be able to challenge the call up to the next legal snap.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 9 • 8:19 pm EDT


Chargers at Raiders (video)

The Chargers were faced with a last-ditch lateral play at the end of the game once again. One of the laterals was overthrown and rolled out of bounds. If there was any time left on the clock, a backward pass out of bounds is a 5-yard penalty for conserving time. It is also a 10-second runoff, which would have taken whatever time remained. This foul only applies when there is less than a minute remaining in the half.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 9 • 7:53 pm EDT


Eagles at Lions (video at 1:23)

A sideline catch turned out to be a sloppy mess for Pete Morelli’s crew, but was ironed out in due course. In the second quarter, Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews was ruled to have been out of bounds when he completed the process of the catch, making the play incomplete. After review, the play was reversed to a completion, because Matthews turned upfield and established himself as a runner.

Wedged in there was an ineligible-receier-downfield foul. Quarterback Carson Wentz was rolling out with no receiver open. On these plays, linemen tend to start going downfield, either anticipating the pass would have been thrown or blocking for a potential quarterback run. The announcement was for number 98, but it seems that a tightly stretched 79 jersey was misidentified. However, Brandon Brooks, the guard who wears number 79, was legally within the 1-yard buffer of the line of scrimmage that he is allowed.

The announcement was not broadcast on TV, but they picked up the flag. Morelli was seen talking on his wireless headset, apparently to someone in the replay booth or in New York headquarters. Although it was correct, someone phoned in a lifeline to the crew.

Update: Lions coach Jim Caldwell claimed that the official who called the foul was mistaking number 79 on the defense as a player on the offense. “The ineligible receiver that they called downfield was Devin Taylor. Then [the official] realized that he called it on Devin and said that’s why they picked the flag up.” Hopefully, this was not the case, and there is no way to be sure. This is an especially troubling assertion, though, because if an official drops a flag in error, the decision to pick up that flag, for a crew’s own credibility, must come before the penalty is announced. (As an administrative matter, a flag can technically be picked up before the next snap.)

Eagles broadcaster Howard Eskin — who has questionable credentials in officiating matters — declared this crew gave the 49ers an extra play, obviously alluding to last season, since Morelli has not worked a 49ers game this year. Of course, “this crew” has only one official from last year, Pete Morelli. Further dismissive of the point, line judge Mike Spanier, who threw the flag, is not a member of this crew, rather he is a swing official that is placed on a different crew each week. As for the call, it will incorrectly fall on Morelli for the gaffe, even though he is not in a position to make this call, but a distinction that has been lost in past situations with his crew.

Incidentally, since they ruled a forward fumble out of bounds on the replay review, this means the game clock runs on the ready-for-play signal, which seemed to be delayed despite the clock-winding signal.

h/t Jeff Wakemen on the radio call

Rich Madrid
Sun Oct 9 • 7:18 pm EDT


Chargers at Raiders

Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper appeared to catch a touchdown pass. Cooper stepped out of bounds before touching the ball, and back judge Dino Pagenelli dropped his hat (to mark out of bounds) and his flag. After the officials conferred, the ruling on the field was defensive pass interference, which forced Cooper out. Although Cooper would be ineligible for stepping out, he doesn’t lose eligibility since he was out due to a defensive foul.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio challenged the call and the call was upheld with Steratore, confirming that Cooper did not get two feet in bounds to reestablish himself. Therefore the pass was incomplete.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 9 • 6:32 pm EDT


Chargers at Raiders (video)

Great concentration and a great call by head linesman Ed Walker on this Michael Crabtree toe-tapping sideline catch.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 9 • 6:10 pm EDT


Falcons at Broncos (video)

Side judge Jonah Monroe is on the spot for this Ricardo Allen interception. The Falcons defensive back was ruled to be not down by contact so he could get up and run; however he contacted the sideline, making the play dead. Monroe was right there and immediately made the call.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 9 • 6:04 pm EDT


Chargers at Raiders (video)

Dexter McCluster collides with umpire Bill Schuster, with the off-balance McCluster getting the worse end of the deal.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 9 • 5:42 pm EDT


Eagles at Lions (video)

Eagles running back Ryan Matthews is hit on a 3rd-and-2 run and fumbles the ball, which is recovered by the Lions near the sideline. This was reviewed automatically, as it was a turnover.

On review, there are two things to verify: (1) Did the player who recovered the ball have possession before going out of bounds, and (2) Did the loose ball touch any player who was also touching the sideline.

There does appear to be a clean recovery in bounds. However, the ball might have touched an out-of-bounds player — possibly Eagles center Jason Kelce — but there is nothing to definitively rule that way. Therefore, the ruling of “stands” keeps the on-field ruling of a Lions recovery.

Had the review reversed the call and ruled the fumble touched an out-of-bounds player, possession would stay with the Eagles. Although the offense is allowed to gain yardage on own-fumble recoveries before the 2-minute warning (which this was), fumbles that go out of bounds go to the spot of the fumble, unless that spot is more advantageous to the team who last possessed the ball. Therefore, the best scenario the Eagles would get in this situation is to retain possession with a 4th-and-5 in their territory. Assuming they punt, it would have pushed the Lions back on their game-winning drive.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 9 • 5:20 pm EDT


Bills at Rams (video)

Nice, quick work by umpire Jeff Rice in ruling a Bills’ fumble recovery.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 9 • 5:03 pm EDT


Eagles at Lions (video)

Ryan Mathews fumbles the ball away to the Lions. Head linesman Steve Stelljes and side judge Boris Cheek make a tougher-than-expected call as the Lions recover very close to the sideline. Remember, if a player is out of bounds and touches the ball, the ball is also out of bounds. Stelljes had to keep his concentration in front of a very excited Lions bench who was “helping” him with the call.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 9 • 4:52 pm EDT


Bills at Rams (video)

Note the college football markings at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.  The USC Trojans play their home ball games there. The middle of the field hash marks are different in college compared to the NFL. The grounds crew obscured the NCAA numbers in time for today’s NFL game.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 9 • 4:45 pm EDT


Bears at Colts (video)

The Colts fail to down a punt and it is muffed into the endzone for a touchback. Back judge Keith Ferguson hung with the bouncing ball and was on the goal line for the call.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 9 • 4:39 pm EDT


Jets at Steelers (video)

Thank goodness the tuck rule is gone! Ben Roethlisberger pumps twice, tucks it and the ball is then punched out. It is picked out of the air by the Jets for a turnover. I guess, the old tuck rule would have been moot as the ball was caught out of the air, so if ruled a pass, it would have been an interception. 

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 9 • 4:23 pm EDT


Washington at Baltimore (video)

Receiver Breshad Perriman was ruled to have caught a touchdown to give the Ravens a lead in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter. On replay review, Perriman was ruled to have only one foot in bounds, reversing the call to incomplete.

Three more incomplete passes on the succeeding plays sealed the Ravens’ defeat.

Patrick Weber
Sun Oct 9 • 3:34 pm EDT


Bears at Colts

img_20161009_152710317.jpgLate in the third quarter, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck rolled out and threw the ball away as he was about to be sacked. Although Luck was out of the pocket the pass failed to reach the line of scrimmage, and he was correctly flagged for intentional grounding. The head linesman, Wayne Mackie, had a great look at the pass as he was holding the line of scrimmage. Since the pass fell short of his position, the ball was clearly short of the line of scrimmage.

Fox broadcaster Troy Aikman railed on the crew about this call, but the image (click to enlarge) shows the ball hitting the ground short of the line of scrimmage. Aikman did not have Mike Pereira, the rules-aficionado jukebox he’s relied upon, as Pereira was off this week, presumably under the weather. (When we asked, Pereira sent us a message that he hopes to be back next week.)

Cameron Filipe
Sun Oct 9 • 3:21 pm EDT


Washington at Ravens (video)

Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley intercepts a Kirk Cousins pass and on his return toward the end zone, he fumbles near the goal line and the ball bounces out of Washington’s end zone for a touchback. As Mosley was extending the ball to stretch it over the goal line, he lost possession of the ball prior to breaking the plane, and it rolled into and out of the end zone. Head linesman Jim Howey and umpire Paul King conferred on the call, and ultimately, referee Ron Torbert announced the touchback, giving the ball back to Washington.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 9 • 3:10 pm EDT


Jets at Steelers

img_20161009_145511486.jpgWhy is the referee covering a deep pass and wearing a black cap?

Field judge Jabir Walker must have had his luggage placed on a flight to Dubuque, because he is borrowing a uniform from his crew chief, John Parry. Walker usually wears number 26.

h/t @thedextrosity

Cameron Filipe
Sun Oct 9 • 3:06 pm EDT


Patriots at Browns

With eleven minutes remaining in the third quarter, New England Patriots defensive back Cyrus Jones has been ejected from the game after throwing punches at Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins. Hawkins was engaged in a block with Jones, and following a shove by Hawkins, Jones retaliated with a punch. Head linesman Phil McKinnely threw the flag on the play.

The full infraction was not shown on TV.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 9 • 2:47 pm EDT


Eagles at Lions (video)

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked, but Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox pulled Stafford’s helmet off. The foul for grabbing the helmet opening is under the facemask foul, and follows the same criteria. The play is dead when Stafford’s helmet comes off, and the ensuing tackle could be unnecessary roughness if the defense makes contact with his head. Since the loss of the helmet and the tackle happened in quick succession, and the defense made an effort to avoid contact with the head, the roughness foul was not warranted.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 9 • 1:51 pm EDT


Washington at Baltimore (video)

crowder-places-ballAfter a week of confusion over taunting and excessive celebration fouls, which SVP/officiating Dean Blandino explained in his weekly media tape, Washington punt returner Jamison Crowder simply places the ball in the end zone following his 85-yard return.

Jets at Steelers (video)

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown also is done getting penalties and fines, as he hands the ball to a fan holding a cardboard Antonio Brown head.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 9 • 12:00 pm EDT


Today’s officials


  • U 124 Carl Paganelli* to Vinovich’s crew (NE-CLE)
  • LJ 90 Mike Spanier* to Morelli’s crew (PHI-DET)
  • FJ 95 James Coleman* to McAulay’s crew (ATL-DEN)
  • SJ 89 Jon Lucivansky* to Coleman’s crew (BUF-LA)

*Swing officials that are moved between crews each week.


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