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Quick calls: Week 9

Liveblog coverage of the calls and rules interpretations in Week 9.



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 6 • 5:30 pm EST

Jaguars at Chiefs (video)

Jaguars running back Chris Ivory fumbled the ball at the goal line, and after a conference, the officials ruled that Ivory fumbled before breaking the plane of the goal. The Chiefs recovery in the end zone resulted in a touchback. This is automatically  subject to a replay review as a turnover.

Ivory appeared to have broken the plane of the goal prior to the fumble. A freeze frame does show the ball in his hand when there is an unobstructed view down the goal line. Although a touchdown ruling in replay reverses the fumble, the fact that the ball was loose has to be established in replay as occurring after the ball crosses the goal line.  When this is being reviewed, it is important to note that the fumble begins when a player loses control of the ball —  not when the ball is out of the runner’s hands.

This means that there must be evidence of the ball being in Ivory’s control at the point of that freeze frame, and it must be indisputable. While it looks like it may be in his control at this point, it is also possible that he’s lost control. With the laces of the ball turning, there is nothing to help Ivory’s case. Therefore, the call on the field stands.

If a touchdown is ruled on the field, the opposite is also true: is there evidence that shows Ivory lost control at the freeze frame spot? It is just as ambiguous, and had a touchdown been ruled, it would have also stood.

Update: SVP/officiating Dean Blandino released a video that backs up this assessment:

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 10:40 pm EST

Jets at Dolphins

Jets linebacker Calvin Pryor was hit with a taunting foul after a sack which has been widely reported to be due to a “brushing off” gesture and pointing among his teammates. This is not the case.

After the action seen in the video below, CBS was in replays for 10 seconds before we hear umpire Jeff Rice hitting his whistle repeatedly. Shortly after, the live picture shows Pryor hanging his head, consistent with a player who knows he did wrong and was caught, as opposed to wrongfully accused. Rice is shown giving the jersey number to referee Walt Coleman, which was not under discussion during the entire off-camera period, but had just been flagged. CBS then replayed the immediate aftermath of the sack from another angle, even though this is not where the infraction had occurred.  

Since Pryor had a sack, he had to cross back through the Dolphins offense, and somewhere in there he committed some unseen taunting infraction.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 11:52 pm EST


Broncos at Raiders (video)

On the play following a fumble recovery, Broncos safety T.J. Ward appeared to intercept a Derek Carr pass. On replay, Ward can be seen using the ground to aid his ability to control the ball, so this is reversed to an incomplete pass.

Mark Schultz
Sun Nov 6 • 9:34 pm EST


Broncos at Raiders | 8:15, 1st qtr.

Referee Clete Blakeman sends off wide receiver Seth Roberts of the Raiders to get checked for a concussion. Roberts made the catch and landed forehead first with a defender on his back.

The officials have the authority to send a player off to be examined by medical personnel.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 8:24 pm EST


Panthers at Rams (video)

A few days removed from his confab with the commissioner over non-flagged hits, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was subject to a hard sack in the third quarter by Rams linebacker Mark Barron. Although Newton’s head moves slightly, it appears that the force of the blow was delivered at shoulder-level, which is legal.  

Mark Schultz
Sun Nov 6 • 8:18 pm EST


Titans at Chargers (video)

Marcus Mariota fumbles the ball and the Chargers get a scoop and score. On plays like this, the officials have to adjust quickly to reverse mechanics. The referee is responsible for the goal line and the wing officials are responsible to make sure the ball carrier stays in bounds. And the referee (Brad Allen in this case) has to make sure he’s out-of-the-way and safe.

Mark Schultz
Sun Nov 6 • 8:13 pm EST


Colts at Packers (video)

Great plays make for great calls. Donte Moncrief of the Colts makes a great spinning, over the shoulder catch for a touchdown. Side judge Rob Vernatchi is at the pylon to make sure Moncrief gets both feet down and completes the process of the catch.

Mark Schultz
Sun Nov 6 • 7:56 pm EST


Saints at 49ers (video)

Mike Davis fumbles at the one yard line and the Saints recover. Good instincts by field judge Eugene Hall to hold the whistle as the goal line was involved.  

It is so crucial for the officials to not blow their whistle until they see the ball dead in possession of a player. Had the back judge or side judge seen the player on the ground, assumed no fumble and blew the whistle, it would have been a huge mistake.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 7:43 pm EST


Colts at Packers (video)

caddyshack-croRather than risk a palpably unfair act by a rodent, officials stopped the game while the Lambeau Field grounds crew attempted to corral a squirrel running around in the end zone.  

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 7:36 pm EST


Saints at 49ers (video)

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick fumbled the snap on a 4th-and-5 play. The ball squirts forward and is recovered beyond the line of scrimmage by the Saints.

Similar to the Giants blocked field goal return (see entry below), the snap is a backward pass, so Kaepernick’s muffed snap is not a fumble. Even though it is fourth down, any player from the 49ers may recover and advance the ball. If Kaepernick takes possession and then fumbles, he is the only player allowed to advance the fumble.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 7:03 pm EST


Cowboys at Browns (video)

A great call and communication: On a 10-yard run to the pylon by Cowboys running back  Ezekiel Elliott, side judge Dyrol Prioleau and head linesman Jerry Bergman have a long discussion if Elliot was out of bounds prior to crossing the plane of the goal. Bergman can clearly be seen saying that Elliot’s hand touched out of bounds and Prioleau having the angle on the goal line. The call on the field was a touchdown without any intervention from replay needed.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 6:51 pm EST


Jets at Dolphins (video)

Jets receiver Robby Anderson caught a pass at the 13-yard line, and got up off the ground to score a touchdown. On replay review, Anderson was touched on the helmet after he initially secured control of the ball (even thought the catch process was continuing), which makes him down by contact at the 13.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 6:45 pm EST


Eagles at Giants (video)

On a potential Odell Beckham Jr. catch, Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll III strips the ball. If a Beckham catch is ruled and he is on the ground, no defensive player can take the ball from him, because he would be down by contact as a result. Referee Bill Vinovich announced that the ruling was that the catch process by Beckham was not completed, therefore Carroll has an interception, not a fumble recovery. This narrowed the scope of the replay review which allowed the call — correctly done in real time — to stand.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 6:04 pm EST


Eagles at Giants (video)

You make the call. Giants linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul blocked an Eagles field goal, which was scooped up by teammate Janoris Jenkins. On the return Jenkins attempted to lateral the ball, but it was unsuccessful. Giants linebacker Matt Herzlich  recovered the ball 7 yards downfield. The play occurred after the two-minute warning. If Jenkins loses the ball at the Giants 46-yard line  and Herzlich recovers at the Eagles 47, where is the ball spotted?

On this play, the fourth-down and two-minute fumble rules are in effect. When the possession changes hands on the blocked kick recovery, the fourth-down fumble rule is off the table for the remainder of the down; the two-minute fumble rule remains in effect. However, Jenkins is correctly ruled to have attempted a backward pass, rather than fumbled. (This distinction is not made for statistical purposes; it is recorded as a fumble at the press-box level.) In this case, it is a legal recovery of a muffed backward pass, and the Giants are entitled to the ball at the Eagles 47. Had the crew ruled it a fumble, the ball would have reverted back to the Giants 46 under the two-minute fumble rule.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 4:49 pm EST


Steelers at Ravens (video)

Well, this is not something you see everyday! From the official scorekeeper:

C.Boswell kicks onside 1 yard from PIT 35 to PIT 36, downed by PIT-C.Boswell. Penalty on PIT-C.Boswell, Illegally Kicking Ball, declined.

Steelers kicker Chris Boswell whiffed the onside kick attempt by a weird sleight-of-foot maneuver. The ball rolled off the tee and came to a rest. (The scorekeeper was being generous to give Boswell even a yard.) Boswell then kicked the ball on the ground, which is an illegal kick. There is also a second foul, which is illegally touching the ball before it travels 10 yards.

Because the illegal kick was prior to the change of possession, the foul can only be enforced on a rekick. The illegal touch penalty also allows the receiving team to enforce the penalty from the dead-ball spot, or to take the ball at the touch spot. Therefore, the illegal kick was declined and the illegal touch was accepted, taking the ball at the 36.

Boswell was able to execute this onside kick play in 2013 when he played for Rice University.

Patrick Weber
Sun Nov 6 • 4:18 pm EST


Jaguars at Chiefs (video)

In the fourth quarter of the game in Kansas City, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce was assessed two unsportsmanlike fouls on the same play and subsequently disqualified. After an incomplete pass in the endzone, Kelce was penalized first for arguing with the officials after a pass interference non-call. When he realized that he had been flagged, Kelce threw his towel at field judge Mike Weatherford, and was flagged again for unsportsmanlike conduct. Both of these fouls count towards automatic ejection so Kelce was ejected. Since both of these fouls are also fouls against an official they are both enforced and 30 yards of penalties were assessed against the Chiefs. This is the third time the new rule for automatic ejection has been invoked this year.  


Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 4:03 pm EST


Lions at Vikings (video)


Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford had his pass deflected back to him. Bradford snatched the ball out of the air and ran for 5 yards.

Bradford is an eligible receiver by virtue of the fact he is in the shotgun formation. (A quarterback lined up under center is not.) However, when the ball is tipped, all players, including linemen, are eligible. Bradford is able to catch and run only. A second forward pass, even though it is behind the line of scrimmage, is not allowed.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 3:27 pm EST


Eagles at Giants (video)

Giants safety Landon Collins made contact with Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis on a second quarter field goal. There was no flag thrown on the play.

Although there is a good case for a flag, it appears that referee Bill Vinovich is ruling that Collins was off balance as a result of a block on the line. Roughing or running into the kicker is not called when a kicking team block causes the defender to make contact or reduce his ability to avoid contact. Whether Collins rolled too far creating avoidable contact despite the block is a judgement call.

In this case, the flag would be for running into the kicker and not roughing. Since the Eagles field goal was on 4th-and-15, they would only get five yards and it would still be fourth down. Even if the flag was thrown, it would have been declined, because the Eagles would not have a reasonable trade-off to take the field goal off the board.


Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 1:51 pm EST


Cowboys at Browns (video)

For the second time in three weeks, Jeff Triplette’s crew has ejected at least two players from the same game; the latest was very early in the first quarter.

Browns center Cameron Erving and Cowboys defensive tackle David Irving began fighting on an incomplete pass two minutes into the game. Follow along, this is going to get confusing. The Browns’ Erving ripped Irving’s helmet off and threw it at him. This is an automatic ejection for using a helmet as a weapon: if you slam your helmet to the ground, it is not an ejection, but throw it at a player, regardless of how hard the throw is, and it is an ejection.

Irving’s contribution seemed minimal, but when the camera focused on the combatants, Erving was already on the ground. I would guess that a punch was thrown to warrant an automatic ejection.

Triplette’s crew tossed three players from the Jaguars-Raiders game two weeks ago.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 6 • 12:00 pm EST


Today’s officials


  • U 124 Carl Paganelli* to Steratore’s crew (JAX-KC)
  • U 81 Roy Ellison* to McAulay’s crew (CAR-LA)
  • LJ 90 Mike Spanier to Boger’s crew (NO-SF)
  • FJ 95 James Coleman* to Walt Coleman’s  crew (NYJ-MIA)

*Swing officials that are moved between crews each week.

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