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Quick calls: Week 8

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

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 11:58 pm EDT


Packers at Falcons

From the comments:

JW says

They didn’t give Atlanta’s coach a timeout, despite him screaming at the official, “Time out! Time out! Time out!” The official was too focused on the play. Again, why not just give the coaches an electronic timeout gizmo that alerts the head official to shut down the play? This is a problem every year.

The Falcons were caught in a personnel change with a 12th player attempting to exit the field. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn attempted to call a timeout before the snap, but was unsuccessful in getting the officials’ attention while running down the sideline. On a replay review, the 12th man penalty was assessed, but the same video also showed Quinn signaling feverishly for timeout. The timeout signal cannot be granted in replay, and even if it were, a timeout is when an official recognizes the signal, not when the coach or player first makes the signal; this would lead to inconsistent enforcement.

As for using a device to signal for a timeout, the league implemented a coach’s buzzer system for replay challenges. As a fail safe, coaches were equipped with red challenge flags. The Competition Committee’s preferred method was to use the buzzer — an old-timey vibrating pager — over the flag. Coaches overwhelmingly resorted to the red flag, nearly unanimously. Eventually the league phased out the coach’s replay beeper, and kept the challenge flag.

Coaches are already weighed down with play charts, tablets, and headsets. They would do anything to avoid having to carry another gadget when their voice is suffice in nearly every situation.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 11:58 pm EDT


Cardinals at Panthers (video)

Early in the first quarter, the Panthers were able to get ahead on a scoop-and-score touchdown of a fumble by Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer. As a few replays rolled by the screen, many awaited the inevitable whistle and announcement that referee Walt Coleman was headed under the hood. The whistle came, but it was to start the play clock for the extra-point kick, not to review the play.

Palmer does appear to be making a forward passing motion, albeit a shovel pass. When there is a ball that goes forward that is either a pass or a fumble, it is determined to be a pass if there is a deliberate forward motion of the hand with control of the ball. This means that when the ball touches the ground, it should be ruled an incomplete pass. Now, this are are a lot of moving parts in traffic and officials don’t always have the best angle, so if there isn’t a clear incomplete pass, it is best to have the play run as a fumble. A fumble can be reversed in replay, but an incomplete pass cannot be reversed to award a fumble return and, in this case, the touchdown.

Why replay did not call down for a review is puzzling at the least. There is certainly not enough to confirm the call on the field, but a full under-the-hood replay review could produce no more than a weak inconclusive call. Incidentally, if there was a malfunction of the replay equipment, the referee is to wait 2 minutes for the replay equipment to become operative. So, that scratches that possibility off the list.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 30 • 10:21 pm EDT


Packers at Falcons (video)

Side judge Jon Lucivansky works through his progressions to call this Trevor Davis touchdown. Feet, ball, check partner, signal TD. Officials don’t have to hurry their TD signal. Lucivansky wanted to be sure.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 9:58 pm EDT


Raiders at Buccaneers (video)

The Raiders set an NFL record with 23 accepted penalties assessed on the team, which included 4 unnecessary roughness, 3 illegal formation, 2 offensive holding, 2 false start, 2 defensive twelve-in-formation, 2 illegal use of hands, and one each of defensive pass interference, ineligible downfield on the kick, offensive pass interference (nullifying a touchdown), delay of game, intentional grounding, defensive holding, taunting, and illegal block above the waist. There were 3 declined fouls not included — offensive and defensive holding and defensive offside — and 1 offsetting offensive holding foul.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 8:25 pm EDT


Patriots at Bills (video)

In the final minute with the game result a foregone conclusion, the Bills were stopped short of the end zone on first down. On second down, the Bills were able to score,  but Bills coach Rex Ryan attempted to challenge the first-down play.

When a coach throws a flag late and misses the snap, he is allowed to pick up that flag without penalty. However, since the game is after the 2-minute warning, there cannot be a legal challenge, so Ryan is not given the deference of a red flag pickup. Originally, referee John Parry announced this was a 15-yard penalty assessed on the kickoff, but then corrected it. If a team has a timeout remaining, the challenge-flag flag requires a team to lose a timeout if they have one, then the 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct is assessed. A team does not have a choice to reserve the timeout and take the 15 instead.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 8:01 pm EDT


Seahawks at Saints (video)

In postgame interviews, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman talked about the “cunning excuses” for the calls that did not go in favor of the Seahawks.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 30 • 7:05 pm EDT


Raiders at Buccaneers (video)

Referee Terry McAulay had plenty of air time today. The Raiders were flagged for a NFL record 23 accepted penalties.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 6:37 pm EDT


Patriots at Bills

In what might have been an out-of-town fan’s anticipation of Rob Gronkowski’s 69th career touchdown — nice! — someone in the crowd threw a … um … sex toy onto the field. But it was a case of premature jocularity, as Gronkowski did not score on that play.

It became the job of side judge Keith Washington to look in disgust as he kicked it towards the sidelines for the grounds crew to collect.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 5:50 pm EDT


Cardinals at Panthers (video)

After sustaining several uncalled head hits in Week 1, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was justifiably upset when he was hit low this time. No flag was thrown by Walt Coleman.   A weak case can be made that contact initiated at the thigh area, but even that doesn’t negate the low hit.

In a postgame interview, Newton said he planned to address these concerns with commissioner Roger Goodell.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 30 • 5:05 pm EDT


Seahawks at Saints (video)

Drew Brees hits Brandon Cooks for a go-ahead touchdown. Number 83 of the Saints, Willie Snead, picks off a defender on this play. Such blocking is legal when the wide receiver is within one yard of the line of scrimmage. Snead appears to be more than one yard down field when the contact takes place.  

This should have been offensive pass interference on Snead, wiping out the touchdown.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 4:52 pm EDT


Patriots at Bills (video)

Just as they drew it up in the playbook, no doubt, Bills punter Colton Schmidt drops the ball on a busted punt play and runs for the first down. For the officials who are in position for the punt, they must quickly transition to cover the run and the first down. Players’ timing on the play is messed up, and a lineman might be downfield prematurely, so this has to be watched as well. Plus, the punt is still an option for  Schmidt as long as remains behind the line of scrimmage.  

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 30 • 4:49 pm EDT


Raiders at Buccaneers (video)

Head linesman Jerry Bergman and side judge Jonah Monroe team up to rule on a juggling, toe-tapping Amari Cooper catch. Good eye and good concentration for both officials.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 30 • 4:39 pm EDT


Patriots at Bills (video)

The Bills’ Zack Brown slams back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the ground. Officials can call a body slam unnecessary roughness if they deem the action excessive, but referee John Parry and company rule this Brown tackle legal. Brown didn’t pick up Garoppolo put him in a helpless position and punish him with a body slam.  

Good no-call.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 30 • 4:33 pm EDT


Seahawks at Saints (video)

Side judge James Coleman and back judge Scott Helverson call a potential game-winning touchdown catch out of bounds as the clock hits zero. Coleman and Helverson were under control, made the call and not a peep from the Seahawks.

As we covered previously, the pylon does not put a player out of bounds. Receiver Jermaine Kearse contacted the pylon with his foot after his first foot comes down in bounds. This does not count as a second foot in bounds; the contact with the pylon is disregarded, and the second foot eventually comes down out of bounds.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 30 • 4:26 pm EDT


Washington vs. Cincinnati (video)

Josh Norman is critical of the officiating in the post-game news conference. He singles out field judge Brad Freeman. The NFL does not look kindly on public criticism of officiating so don’t be surprised if Norman gets a fine from the league office this week.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 30 • 4:12 pm EDT


Chiefs at Colts (video)

Line judge Julian Mapp and field judge Steve Zimmer confer on a Travis Kelce catch. Zimmer sticks with his completed catch. Referee Craig Wrolstad and company review the play and rule that the ball did not survive the hit to the ground, so the play was reversed to incomplete.

Kudos to head linesman Mark Hittner, back judge Lee Dyer, and side judge Jeff Lamberth to getting players away from Mapp and Zimmer so they could hash out the play.

Mark Schultz
Sun Oct 30 • 3:56 pm EDT


Lions at Texans (video)

Good goal line call by line judge Tom Symonette.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 2:27 pm EDT


Seahawks at Saints (video)

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas celebrated a fumble returned for a touchdown  by hugging side judge Alex Kemp. Once his arms were freed up, Kemp threw an unsportsmanlike conduct flag, although as a celebration Thomas is technically  assessed the warning for an ejection for a second unsportsmanlike conduct — only certain fouls, mostly in the taunting categories are counted.

Could Thomas be ejected for impermissible contact with an official? Not exactly. The unsportsmanlike flag is for  “unnecessary physical contact with a game official,” and that was probably the most unnecessary contact I’ve seen in a nonaggressive act. But, to rise to an ejection, a note in the rules addresses pushing and shoving or addressing in a manner that belittles an official before the crowd.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 12:25 pm EDT


Washington vs. Cincinnati (video)

Washington  receiver DeSean Jackson hauled in a 38-yard reception in the third quarter and took a shot to the head from Bengals safety George Iloka to knock him out of bounds. Jackson was injured on the play and was sent to the locker room for evaluation.

This was close to being a hit on a defenseless player, but it was a legal hit. The catch-process and defenseless-player rules converge in similar fashion when it is a receiver being hit in the head. In order to be a defenseless receiver, the process of the catch must still be ongoing. When the receiver transitions to a runner, he is, from a rules perspective, able to ward off or brace for impending contact. Since Jackson has  just transitioned to a runner, he may legally be hit in the helmet, even though he apparently did not see the inbound Iloka.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 11:19 am EDT


Washington vs. Cincinnati

Fox Sports is covering the London game in austerity mode, and it winds up costing the Bengals a timeout. Several times, replays were rolled showing the same camera angle as the live camera, which seems to indicate that the network is running with less cameras than usual.

A 44-yard completion to tight end Vernon Davis along the sideline was challenged by the Bengals. Since it was right in front of the Bengals bench, it appears that coach Marvin Lewis challenged, based on his observation, that Davis stepped out before catching the pass, and not based on an angle seen in the coach’s box. Fox showed a replay from the Skycam from behind the quarterback and an isolation shot of Davis that did not show his feet. Upon returning from the commercial — at a time when the “definitive” replay angle tends to be cued up — Fox rerolled the Skycam angle, which was entirely useless to determine a play at the sideline. The catch stood as called.

Just as the network is not required to roll the best angle in a timely manner for the coach to challenge, it is also not obligated to provide a minimum number of camera angles.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 10:55 am EDT


Washington vs. Cincinnati (video 1  | video 2)

On the first-quarter touchdown by Bengals running back Giovani Bernard, Washington committed a live-ball facemask foul. On scoring plays, 15-yard fouls are carried forward to the kickoff, unless the scoring team commits a live-ball foul.

In the fourth quarter, Washington receiver Jamison Crowder scored a touchdown as his facemask was ensnared in an attempt to keep him out of the end zone. Side judge Scott Novak did not call the foul, as he was watching the ball and Crowder’s feet at the goal line and the infraction occurred on the side of the helmet opposite of his view. Even though touchdowns are reviewable, a facemask penalty cannot be assessed in review.

Ben Austro
Sun Oct 30 • 9:10 am EDT


Today’s officials


  • U 124 Carl Paganelli* to Coleman’s crew (AZ-CAR)
  • U 81 Roy Ellison to Allen’s crew (DET-HOU)
  • FJ 95 James Coleman* to Hochuli’s crew (SEA-NO)
  • SJ 89 Jon Lucivansky* to Anderson’s crew (GB-ATL)

*Swing officials that are moved between crews each week.


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10 thoughts on “Quick calls: Week 8

  1. Josh Norman should had been called for more penalties than were called. He grabs and holds on every play and complains every time a flag is thrown against him.

  2. Walt Anderson and his crew had a terrible day in Atlanta in a close game. Some highlights:

    – They missed the playclock running out on Green Bay. Rodgers got the snap off about two seconds after it expired. The fault for this perennial issue, of course, continues to be the NFL, which asks the officials to watch the snap and the playclock simultaneously… which is impossible. (I once saw Green Bay get penalized with one second still remaining on the playclock!) All the NFL has to do to fix this is give the official watching the snap a vibrating device that goes off when the playclock expires. But the NFL won’t do that, because then they can’t make the same excuses over and over for the issue while we tear out our hair wondering why they don’t fix it.

    – They called DPI against Green Bay in the first quarter when there was no significant contact. (Maybe it was a makeup call for the Sherman incident two weeks ago?)

    – They missed an obvious hold on Atlanta in the first quarter where a Falcon had a hold of a Packer’s jersey and the jersey was stretched out. Atlanta instead completed a first down pass.

    – They called a late hate on Green Bay’s Jones on Ryan when Jones had no chance to pull up (and despite there being no helmet or head contact).

    – They missed a hold by GB’s Micah Hyde in the third quarter, with another jersey stretched out for anyone to see.

    – They didn’t give Atlanta’s coach a timeout, despite him screaming at the official, “Time out! Time out! Time out!” The official was too focused on the play. Again, why not just give the coaches an electronic timeout gizmo that alerts the head official to shut down the play? This is a problem every year. (Along with the counterpart, where the referees grant a timeout to a team because they hear someone behind them who turns out not to be the coach at all… because they can’t turn around and confirm who’s actually calling it with a snap eminant, allowing spectators in the front row to call timeouts.)

  3. Kelseys catch for the chiefs ruled correctly on the field and then was reversed. Possession with 4 total steps, with the last step slightly out bounds, play done and a catch. He became a runner after two steps AND stepped out on the fourth step , read the rule book! reviewer!

  4. OPI on a receiver 1yd (maybe 1.5yd, depending on camera angle) out from the LOS….either nitpicky (ie not “letting them play”) or blown call…I can’t tell which one

  5. If a team has no timeouts left with less than 2 minutes left on the clock and is down by 5 points and also has possession of the ball, can the defenders after tackling the ball carrier inbounds then purposely very slowly get off the ball carrier so as to eat up the maximum amount of seconds off the clock???

  6. Alex Kemp is the side judge on Hochuli’s crew, not James Coleman. I didn’t even have to know Kemp’s number to know it wasn’t Coleman, since the SJ in the Seahawks-Saints game was white.

  7. Doesn’t make much difference. NFL and all other pro sports are nothing more than a scam. Winners and losers are already determined long before season begins.

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