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Quick calls: Week 11

Liveblog coverage of the calls and rules interpretations in Week 11.



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 Nov 20 • 8:09 pm EST

 Patriots at 49ers

49ers center Daniel Kilgore mishandled the snap and a flag was thrown on the play for an illegal snap. Replays showed that the ball slipped from Kilgore’s grip and bounced off his foot without going through his legs; the errant snap was recovered by the 49ers.

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There is no requirement for a snap to go through a snapper’s legs. A snap must go to a player other than a lineman, but that requirement is off once the snap is muffed by an offensive back or if it touches the ground. Even though the ball is recovered by a 49ers lineman, this is legal because the snap has touched the ground. A center may also be penalized for double-gripping or pumping the ball in the snap movement, which exaggerates the actual start of the snap. But this snap was a legal snap and should not have been penalized.

A snap infraction is treated as a false start, and it kills the play. Even though this was an erroneous foul, the Patriots could not decline it and have the down count, because there is no play by rule.

Ben Austro

Mon Nov 21 • 12:40 am EST


Green Bay at Washington (video)

A few plays after the scramble, Rodgers connected with receiver Jordy Nelson in the end zone. Nelson did not appear to have the ball long enough to have completed the process of the catch. In the officiating clinic in July, SVP/officiating Dean Blandino said these “bang-bang” type plays would be ruled incomplete.

Although the evidence is clearly present to make a definitive ruling for catch/no catch, the replay review went with “stands.” This is solely anchored in the time element, and there should be a more definitive answer from replay in reversed/confirmed. This means if it was ruled incomplete, there would be no touchdown, as it would stand as called.

Personally, I don’t think the time element was met and should have been reversed to incomplete.

Ben Austro
Mon Nov 21 • 12:21 am EST


Green Bay at Washington (video)

On a fourth-down scramble, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers dove to gain extra yardage. When a player starts a feet-first slide, he is giving himself up, and the ball is placed where he first touches the ground. When there is a head-first dive, the runner can get all of the yardage gained until he is down by contact.

Rodgers slid to a stop and did not make an effort to get up, so Rodgers is declared down by rule. This is a surrender, similar to a player taking a knee to kill the play. Rodgers does get up and run to the end zone, but it was too late to count.

Ben Austro
Mon Nov 21 • 12:05 am EST


Eagles at Seahawks (video)

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin throws an option pass to quarterback Russell Wilson for a touchdown. Wilson loses the ball in the end zone, but he has completed the process of the catch by making a play for the end zone.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 7:25 pm EST


Missed extra-point kicks

There were 12 missed extra-point kicks in today’s games — or 4 more than the entire 2014 season, the last season before the kick distance was changed. The previous record for missed conversions in the same week was 11 in 1966, when the goal posts were on the goal line, creating an oblique angle for a kicker 7 yards away.

With the following links going to videos, the missed kicks this weekend were by Connor Barth (Bears), Robbie Gould (Giants, twice), Jason Meyers (Jaguars), Cody Parkey (Browns), Mike Nugent (Bengals, twice), Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots), and Dustin Hopkins (Washington). There were blocked kicks by Kai Forbath (Vikings), Matt Prater (Lions), and Stephen Hauschka (Seahawks).

Ironically, Forbath was successful on his first extra-point kick, which received a sarcastic cheer (video) after kicker Blair Walsh was cut having missed 4 PATs this season.

(Originally, we reported an additional missed extra-point on Thursday. This was not correct.)

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 6:26 pm EST


Eagles at Seahawks

img_20161120_180442879.jpgThe Eagles had a long touchdown pass nullified by an illegal formation foul. The wide receiver is lined up about 2 yards behind the ball. The rule is that a player is on the line of scrimmage if he is breaking the plane of the imaginary line through the snapper’s belt. However, when there is a conventional formation, a split receiver who is generally lined up with the tackle will be considered on the line of scrimmage. In those cases, an official will approach a player during a stoppage to inform him to get a little tighter to the line. (This was also discussed by SVP/officiating Dean Blandino this week.)

Before the play, head linesman Kent Payne is signalling the receiver to move up, and an Eagles coach is also trying to get his receiver’s attention. This seems to indicate that the Eagles have already been warned about their formations being out of compliance.

As soon as the ball was snapped, the flag went up. By being off the line, it means that the player on the end of the line of scrimmage is not an eligible receiver as required, and the Eagles have one too few players on the line of scrimmage.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 5:42 pm EST


Jaguars at Lions

formation-leaper-jax-detThe emerging special teams tactic is to have a leaper run in and jump over the offensive line on field-goal and extra-point kick attempts. Last week, the Broncos were able to execute the play by legally pushing down the offensive line for airspace clearance for the leaper.

The Jaguars were flagged for an illegal formation, because the leaping player mistimed his approach, and was in the gap over center on the line of scrimmage at the snap. Since it is only a 5-yard penalty, and the Lions had a 4th-and-6, they kept the field goal on the board. The penalty cannot be carried to the kickoff.


Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 5:13 pm EST


Jaguars at Lions (video)

At the beginning of the video, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is exasperated that the umpire is over the ball on a fourth-down play. Stafford was attempting to catch the Jaguars in a substitution — Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien (#39) is seen getting into position — but since the Lions substituted, the Jaguars are allowed to match personnel. If the Lions had not substituted, the Jaguars would have to change out defensive players at their own peril.

The Jaguars were drawn offside in the confusion, anyway, giving the Lions the first down.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 4:53 pm EST


Cardinals at Vikings (video)

A wobbly pass by Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford was eventually ruled incomplete after a conference by the officiating crew. There was an immediate recovery of the loose ball and a return to the end zone, which was negated by the delayed call on the field. This is an acceptable method of making the call — as the officials are taking advantage of their collective perspectives on the play, rather than potentially shutting down a scoring opportunity.

Once that on-field ruling is cemented, there is no way to go back to a Cardinals touchdown return in replay. The Cardinals challenged the call and the call stood. There was no definitive evidence that Bradford had an “empty hand” prior to the ball going forward, although I’d argue there was enough to confirm the call.

The subsequent play was also a fumble recovery by the Cardinals and upheld on review.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 4:26 pm EST


Cardinals at Vikings

Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford has repeatedly lined up in a wide receiver slot, and on a first-down play he was pushed over by Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson about 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage. There was a quick handoff, so this was a running play, and the judgement was probably that Bradford was in a passive posture, not presenting himself as a potential receiver. If there was more of a forcible blow, this would no doubt be called unnecessary roughness, but it was borderline at best as the play occurred.

Later in the same drive, the Cardinals were flagged for a blow to the head on a sideline catch by receiver Stefon Diggs. Diggs was corralled and a high hit was administered by safety Tony Jefferson. It is debatable if there was a forcible blow to the helmet, but there is a standard to err on the side of caution, so this will be called if there is a doubt. Diggs can be ruled defenseless by virtue of his forward progress being held up — this prevents a runner who is essentially stopped or needs little force to finish the tackle to be subjected to a head hit he is unable to avoid.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 2:38 pm EST


Cardinals at Vikings (video)

Field judge Adrian Hill keeps up with a long kickoff return by the Cardinals. He slows down to get the spot, but gets caught in the mix as the play carries out of bounds.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 2:31 pm EST


Cardinals at Vikings (video)

Vikings running back Matt Asiata is ruled short of the goal line in the second quarter. Vikings challenged the call, and it was reversed to a touchdown. It was Mike Zimmer’s second challenge of the game; both were not only reversals, but also were touchdowns. Zimmer has a third challenge available to him for the game because he had two successful challenges.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 2:20 pm EST


Cardinals at Vikings (video)

Vikings try to execute a wildcat–end-around–reverse with quarterback Sam Bradford, initially lined up as a receiver, heaving a deep pass. Although it fell incomplete, the Vikings were able to take advantage of a defensive pass interference penalty.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 2:08 pm EST


Ravens at Cowboys (video)

Ravens receiver Steve Smith hauls in his 999th career reception at the sideline. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett challenged the play. The video does not show if Smith’s feet are off the ground or if he dragged them out of bounds. Call stands.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 1:48 pm EST


Titans at Colts (video)

Referee Walt Anderson announces a foul on the Titans: “False start, everyone but the center.” Anderson has called this on at least two other occasions that I can recall.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 1:44 pm EST


Cardinals at Vikings (video)

Wide receiver Adam Thielen is initially ruled out of bounds, but a Vikings challenge gives Thielen the touchdown.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 20 • 12:00 pm EST


Today’s officials


  • U 124 Carl Paganelli* to McAulay’s crew (BUF-CIN)
  • U 81 Roy Ellison* to Parry’s crew (BAL-DAL)
  • LJ 84 Mark Steinkerchner to Blakeman’s crew (AZ-MIN)
  • FJ 95 James Coleman* to Vinovich’s crew (JAX-DET)
  • SJ 89 Jon Lucivansky* to Wrolstad’s crew as FJ (CHI-NYG)
  • BJ 111 Terrence Miles to Morelli’s crew (NO-CAR/Thurs.)

*Swing officials that are moved between crews each week.


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