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Quick calls: Week 13

Liveblog coverage of the calls and rules interpretations in Week 13.



week13Keep 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 Dec 4 • 9:41 pm EST


Bills at Raiders

Early in the game, Raiders right tackle Austin Howard was flagged for an illegal formation foul. Howard (#77) must be one of the seven players on the line of scrimmage — the minimum of 5 interior linemen plus exactly 2 eligible receivers on either end. Howard is considered “on” the line of scrimmage as long as his helmet breaks the plane of the snapper’s beltline.

If a player is close to the line, they will get notified by the official during a stoppage, and more egregious violations flagged without warning. With a neutral zone infraction occurring earlier in the series, this appears to be the only time this would be done on the opening drive of the game. Referee Bill Vinovich announced with the penalty that this foul was assessed after a warning.

After receiving the foul, it is up to Howard to look toward the line judge to get confirmation that he is properly lined up, who can signal if Howard needs to move up to be in formation.buf-oak-formation

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 4 • 8:16 pm EST


Buccaneers at Chargers (video)

Buccaneers safety Keith Tandy intercepted a Philip Rivers pass at the 2-yard line and landed in the end zone. The ruling on the field was that this was a momentum-exception play: if the ball is intercepted in the field of play and the intercepting player’s original momentum carries him into the end zone where the ball is dead, then the momentum rule makes this the defense’s ball at the spot of the interception. In this case, the Bucs get the ball at the 2.

On replay, Tandy never got his second foot down in the field of play. This means that the interception occurs in the end zone when he finally comes down to the ground in the end zone. The replay review reversed this to a touchback.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 4 • 7:37 pm EST


Bills at Raiders (video)

The Bills were guilty of a roughing the kicker for contact with the plant leg of punter Marquette King. After the play was over, King picked up the flag and started to wave it defiantly. This occurred away from the end of the play, so it is not part of the continuing action of the play. This makes this a foul between downs, and is handled separately from fouls that occur during the play.

King did not direct the action towards an opposing player, so it is not ruled as taunting, which would place it in the category for ejection on a second such foul.

The roughing the kicker foul is first assessed by itself. This is 15 yards and an automatic first down. The chains are then set. Next, the between-downs foul is enforced, bringing the ball back to the original line of scrimmage, but charged against the new line-to-gain. That makes it a 1st-and-25 for the Raiders; even though the yardage washed out, this is one of the rare situations where fouls by both teams don’t simply offset.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 4 • 6:46 pm EST


Buccaneers at Chargers (video)

Chargers receiver Dontrelle Inman has a 35-yard run for the end zone. Side judge Allen Baynes has the call at the pylon. It seems pretty clear, but replay allowed the call to “stand.”

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 4 • 6:02 pm EST


Chiefs at Falcons (video)

fantastic-finishesFor the second time in league history — as a result of a 2015 rule change — a defensive two-point conversion is the game-winning score. In Week 10, a blocked kick return gave the Broncos a 2-point win over the Saints. This week, the Falcons had a 1-point lead on a fourth-quarter touchdown, and opted to go for the 2-point conversion to potentially make it a margin of a field goal. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was intercepted by safety Eric Berry, who returned it to the other end zone. Of the defensive deuces scored since the rule change, this is the first one that was not by a blocked kick, the first one to cause the touchdown-scoring team to lose their lead, and the first time the Saints were not on the field. Although they do not track these stats, the 99-yard return on the conversion is the longest to date.

The CBS Chyron apparently doesn’t have the two-point conversion loaded as an option, because they put this up as a “safety.” On the conversion attempt, all scores are ⅓ their usual value, so the Chiefs get 2 points for the touchdown-equivalent.


Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 4 • 5:12 pm EST


Giants at Steelers (video)

Terry McAulay calls the Giants for a safety. Ereck Flowers grabs hold of the outside of a defender’s helmet, taking him out of the play. Since the foul happened in the endzone, it is a safety and two points for the Steelers.

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 4 • 4:21 pm EST


Broncos at Jaguars (video)

Quarterback Blake Bortles loses the handle while cocking his arm and referee Craig Wrolstad properly rules fumble and a Broncos recovery.

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 4 • 4:17 pm EST


Rams at Patriots (video)

Nice work by field judge Jon Lucivansky to keep with this Kenny Britt 66-yard catch and run.

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 4 • 4:13 pm EST


49ers at Bears (video)

The Morelli crew gets to the bottom of a fumble scrum. Excellent mechanics. The first official or two to arrive at the pile digs to the bottom. the other officials make sure the peeled off players stay off the pile and the rest of the crew orbits the pile to prevent any fights.

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 4 • 4:08 pm EST


Dolphins at Ravens (video)

Nice job by the Cheffers crew to rule this close fumble and Dolphins scoop and return.

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 4 • 4:00 pm EST


Lions at Saints (video)

Tom Symonette (subbing for Tony Veteri) and Hugo Cruz team up to call this tight John Kuhn touchdown.

Here we have a good look at the correct mechanics. When the ball is snapped inside the five yard line, the wing official moves to the goal line and then works his way back. It is vital for the official to be on the goal line when the ball gets there.

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 4 • 3:49 pm EST


Dolphins at Ravens (video)

The Dolphins’ Jay Ajayi gets chirpy with a Ravens’ defender. Tim Podraza gets between the two players and field judge Brad Freeman throws a flag.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 4 • 3:23 pm EST


Rams at Patriots (video)

costanza-jacketRams coach Jeff Fisher is fumbling for his challenge flag to get a replay of a sideline catch. Fisher is not able to find which pocket it’s in, which is not a problem when they are playing in the warm southern California weather. Line judge Dana McKenzie eventually kills the clock and allows Fisher to verbally request the challenge. If the snap was imminent, McKenzie would be focused on the line, and Fisher might not be given the benefit of the doubt with a verbal challenge.

A similar situation occurred last year with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, and Carroll was also granted the challenge even though the request was verbal.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 4 • 2:26 pm EST


Texans at Packers (video)

Packers receiver Randall Cobb catches a touchdown and makes a snow angel in the end zone. Cobb was not flagged for a celebration foul, contrary to the ruling in Chicago where Dontae Johnson was flagged. The reason is that Johnson went to the ground as part of his celebration, which is very clearly defined in the rules as an excessive celebration. Cobb was already on the ground, so this is not a foul for “going to the ground.” Cobb appears to be very aware of this rule, as he rolled over to get up, but then stayed on the ground to do his snow angel.

This appears to be a silly rule when the two situations are juxtaposed like this in two different stadiums at roughly the same time. As celebrations became exceedingly elaborate in the 1990s, the Competition Committee was tasked to come up with specific criteria, which included this provision. All players are specifically made aware of these bright lines in the rules.

Both plays were correctly ruled.

Patrick Weber
Sun Dec 4 • 2:02 pm EST


49ers at Bears (video at :56)

In the second quarter, the 49ers blocked a punt and it was returned for an apparent touchdown by Dontae Johnson. However, Johnson was marked out at the 4-yard line. The 49ers were originally unaware that it was not a touchdown, and Johnson made a snow angel as a celebration. The 49ers were penalized for the celebration, and began the series 1st and 10 from the 19.

(Since the chains are set after the penalty is enforced, this is a 1st-and-10, and not a 1st-and-goal.)

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 4 • 2:00 pm EST


Chiefs at Falcons (video)

Umpire Jeff Rice surfs into the pile on a fumble recovery as if it’s freshly raked leaves. After rolling over on his back, Rice is seen saying “white ball.” The 22-year veteran has seen his share of fumble scrums, but few like this one.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 4 • 1:13 pm EST


Texans at Packers

49ers at Bears

The weather outside is … delightful. Snow in Green Bay and Chicago could have an impact on the game. Although there is no accumulation early in the game, the grounds crew may clear the 5-yard stripes during breaks in the game at the referee’s direction. The lines may not be cleared in front of the offense or close behind them. The only exception is if the referee thinks the goal line is not visible, he may take a timeout to have the goal line cleared.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 4 • 12:00 pm EST


Today’s officials


  • U 124 Carl Paganelli* to Hussey’s crew (TB-SD)
  • U 81 Roy Ellison* and LJ 100 Tom Symonette to Blakeman’s crew (DET-NO)
  • FJ 95 James Coleman* to Morelli’s crew (SF-CHI)
  • SJ 89 Jon Lucivansky* to Boger’s crew as a FJ (LA-NE)

*Swing officials that are moved between crews each week.


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