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Quick calls: Week 15

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 Dec 18 • 12:55 pm EST

Lions at Giants

A 4-yard completion to Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will show up on the stat sheet, but there is no way it is a catch. The Lions opted not to challenge, presumably to save a challenge for a more significant play, as this was on the opening drive of the game and only a 4-yard loss. Despite that, it is a huge miss by Tony Corrente’s deep officials, and, because the pass was short, no support from the line-of-scrimmage officials.


Rich Madrid
Mon Dec 19 • 11:08 pm EST


Panthers at Redskins

During the 4th quarter of tonight’s broadcast, a Redskins defensive player left the game after the ATC spotter in the booth radioed down for a medical timeout and sent the player off for concussion testing. For more on the ATC spotter and concussion protocol, see this post here.

Rich Madrid
Mon Dec 19 • 10:59 pm EST


Panthers at Redskins

Redskins tight end Jordan Reed was tossed out of the game for an altercation at the end of play for punching a Panthers defender in the head.  


Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 18 • 11:54 pm EST


Buccaneers at Cowboys (video)

Tom Stephan and Undrey Wash get to the bottom of a fumble scrum.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 11:19 pm EST


Buccaneers at Cowboys (video)

Early in the second quarter, Cowboys Ezekiel Elliot scores a touchdown and jumps into the oversized Salvation Army pot in the end zone. Elliot was flagged for a celebration foul.

This is certainly a situation where you might want to see the officials exercise discretion and not throw a flag, but they can’t. This is a bright line in the rulebook, brought upon by increasingly elaborate celebrations, including pulling out a cell phone from the goalpost padding or carrying a marker on the uniform to sign a touchdown ball. Using the ball or other object as a prop is a foul, and we can’t then put “except for that charitable prop in one team’s end zone.” Players are able to jump into the front row — such as the Lambeau leap — as long as only one player does it on an occasion, as the fans are not a prop.

That said, you can’t jump in the pot yourself, but you can donate to the Salvation Army at  .

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 18 • 11:04 pm EST


Buccaneers at Cowboys (video)

Umpire Undrey Wash nails Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston for unnecessary roughness. Head-butting an opponent will always draw a flag.  

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 18 • 11:00 pm EST


Buccaneers at Cowboys (video)

Cole Beasley gives head linesman Jerry Bergman, Jr., a challenge to get the right spot.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 8:29 pm EST


Raiders at Chargers (video)

On the Raiders’ game-winning drive, quarterback Derek Carr scrambled for the first down as he went out of bounds and was ruled short. On review, Parry announced the exact placement of the ball by stating the  “back of the football was at the 21-yard line” for a first down.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 8:24 pm EST


Raiders at Seahawks (video)

Michael Crabtree catches a pass in the end zone, and he gets the touchdown on reversal by “a slice of blue.” Referee John Parry:

After reviewing the play, the right foot was down with clear possession, then the left foot was down with a slice of blue between the heel and out-of-bounds. Touchdown.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 5:09 pm EST


Packers at Bears (video)

Referee Ron Torbert, heading the third team on the field, gets himself psyched up with the battle with the fourth team, the cold weather.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 5:07 pm EST


Packers at Bears

With  the game tied 27-27, the Packers snapped the ball at 1:08 in the fourth quarter on a -1 yard pass play with the clock running. Offensive lineman Lane Taylor was injured and the clock was stopped at 46 seconds. By rule, this is a timeout charged to the Packers, regardless of whether the clock is running. The Packers did not have a timeout to give, so they are given a fourth timeout for the injury.

The fourth timeout for injury is granted without penalty, except that with a running clock and an offensive player’s injury, this is a 10-second runoff. (There are exceptions in case of a score or if the injury is a result of a foul.) The Bears were allowed to decline the runoff, as they were attempting to save some time for a subsequent possession.

The defense can refuse a runoff when it is proscribed for an accepted penalty or an extra injury timeout. They may not refuse a runoff imposed in a replay reversal.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 4:38 pm EST


49ers at Falcons (video)

The goalposts in Atlanta were out of plumb, so the man with the plumbing supply business helps the adjustments from a grounds crew managed by the founder of Home Depot. A  member of the grounds crew made the high-tech adjustment by tugging on a heavy strap draped over the crossbar. Referee Gene Steratore and a staff member of Football Operations observed the alignment, much the same way my wife guides me while hanging a picture frame. Fortunately, it didn’t take two hours to adjust the goalpost, but I can’t say the same about the picture frame.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 3:33 pm EST


Jaguars at Texans (video)

Marqise Lee of the Jaguars returns a kickoff 100 yards for the touchdown. Prior to crossing the goal line, Lee points at his chasers, which is a taunting foul.

The NFL rule specifically makes taunting enforced as a dead-ball foul no matter when it occurs, which means the score counts. This is contrary to the NCAA rule that allows a premature celebration foul to negate a score. The foul is also enforced on the ensuing kickoff, which differs from the NCAA rule that allows enforcement on the extra-point attempt.

Lee’s foul also puts him in a warning state that a second foul of that type is an automatic ejection.

Matt Holmquist
Sun Dec 18 • 3:30 pm EST


Steelers at Bengals (video)

On a throw to the back of the end zone, Steelers receiver Sammie Coates had his facemask tugged and helmet turned while he attempted to make a catch. The contact was not early, so back judge Greg Meyer did not throw pass interference; however the facemask was not flagged.

This could have been due to positioning: Meyer  was still moving when the ball arrived, and the tug happened on the backside of Coates’ helmet, which was away from Meyer. When a pass arrives, especially in the back of the end zone, it is ideal for a back judge to be stationary to see the whole play better. While moving, it is much more difficult to see small details such as a facemask tug, although larger contact such as a pass interference could still be  noticed.

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 18 • 3:22 pm EST


Titans at Chiefs (video)

Receiver Jeremy Maclin makes a catch, survives a hard hit and then stares down the defender. While there wasn’t any overt taunting, it is moments like this that raise an official’s antenna to watch for escalating chippy play.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 3:21 pm EST


Jaguars at Texans

Texans running back Akeem Hunt plunged through to the end zone on a 1-yard run, but the ball was loose in the end zone. The ruling on the field was that Hunt broke the plane prior to fumbling the ball. The play was reviewed automatically as a scoring play.

The replay showed that Hunt, indeed, lost the ball prior to breaking the plane of the goal which wipes out the touchdown. But, on fumble plays, a reversal is granted if the fumble and the recovery is clearly seen on video. In this case, there is no clear recovery, but also we don’t have the ball breaking the plane of the goal in possession.

In this case, the replay casebook breaks the paradox by giving the goal-line review being the overriding factor in Approved Ruling 15.163:

There must be a clear recovery by the defense in order to reverse to a touchback. The ball will be placed at the spot of the recovery and [in that case] that results in a touchback. If there is a pile up and the Referee cannot see who recovered the ball or there is a long delay with players stopping before the ball is recovered, or there is no recovery, then the offense retains possession (unless it was fourth down and the line to gain was not reached) and the ball will be placed at the spot of the fumble.

Texans were given the ball 3rd-and-goal from inside the 1, and were unsuccessful in two attempts at the end zone.

Matt Holmquist
Sun Dec 18 • 3:01 pm EST


Titans at Chiefs (video)

A sideline catch by Jeremy Maclin was challenged by the Titans. The call on the field of a completed reception was upheld on the grounds of  Maclin’s knee hitting in-bounds before he was tackled out of bounds. Maclin maintained control of the ball through his contact with the ground. Maclin’s left foot touched the ground twice, but for feet to be a factor in an in-bounds catch, there must be two feet.

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 18 • 2:50 pm EST


Browns at Bills (video)

The cold is making even the simple things difficult today. Browns coach Hue Jackson doesn’t have a belt to tuck his challenge flag into.

Mark Schultz
Sun Dec 18 • 2:44 pm EST


Lions at Giants (video)

A fumble into the end zone is always an exciting play for the officials Tony Corrente’s crew does a good job holding the whistle, not rushing the call and then making a definitive ruling.

Cameron Filipe
Sun Dec 18 • 2:40 pm EST


Lions at Giants

A clever play by Detroit’s special teams allowed them to gain about 35 yards of field position. Returner Andre Roberts touched his foot out of bounds before touching the ball that was bouncing near the sideline. Since the ball was touching a player out of bounds, the ball is therefore out of bounds, and a penalty is enforced against the Giants. A kickoff out of bounds, when kicked off from the 35, the receiving team gets the ball at the 40 (or the out-of-bounds spot if more advantageous). Line judge Bart Longson was all over the call.

Matt Holmquist
Sun Dec 18 • 2:32 pm EST


Lions at Giants

In the 2nd quarter, Lions defensive end Brandon Copeland partially blocked a punt by Giants punter Brad Wing. The ball continued past the line of scrimmage, where it was declared dead 18 yards down the field. The Giants were not able to “recover” or advance this deflection because it occurred behind the line of scrimmage. The status of the ball still remains a kick, and the kicking team can only advance a scrimmage kick beyond the line of scrimmage when it has been touched by the receiving team at a point also beyond the line of scrimmage. If the kick would have remained behind the line, the kicking team could have recovered and advanced.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 2:10 pm EST


Browns at Bills

Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III was attempting to throw a pass near the sideline, but was ruled out of bounds while throwing. The Browns attempted to challenge, but this cannot be reviewed, since the play is ruled dead at that point. It may only be reviewed in reverse, as a completed pass may be reviewed to see if the quarterback was out.

The only post-whistle action that may be allowed in replay is an immediate loose-ball recovery.

The Browns were allowed to pick up the challenge flag without losing a challenge or a timeout.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 12:55 pm EST


Packers at Bears

Kickoff temperature is 9 ° with a wind chill of  —6. How officials stay warm through the game, past and present.

Ben Austro
Sun Dec 18 • 12:44 pm EST


Today’s officials


  • U 124 Carl Paganelli* to Corrente’s crew (DET-NYG)
  • U 81 Roy Ellison* to Torbert’s crew (GB-CHI)
  • LJ 47 Tim Podraza to Blakeman’s crew (CLE-BUF)
  • LJ 53 Sarah Thomas  to Cheffers’ crew (NO-AZ)
  • BJ 61 Keith Ferguson to Morelli’s crew (MIA-NYJ/Sat.)
  • BJ 133 Steve Freeman to Hussey’s crew (TEN-KC)

*Swing officials that are moved between crews each week.

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16 thoughts on “Quick calls: Week 15

  1. 1-10-NYG 37(14:00) (Shotgun) E.Manning pass short right to O.Beckham to NYG 41 for 4 yards (G.Quin).

    As the Fox replay showed, this play in the first quarter was actually incomplete, but granted as a completion by the officials.

  2. Gosh. Didn’t take long for the WWE-NFL to show-up. Sure that was a Giants completion. It only dropped over 2 football lengths. A quick bang……drop….bang play I can see how they missed it. It seems the NFL thinks that the Losing Lions is a better story than the winning Lions. Then take a free shot at Matt Stafford on a delay of game. Can’t wait until they call Detroit for a NY penalty. Mr. Blandino?

  3. Seriously, I love this game. I have for 5 decades. We have the technology, we have heard from the NFL that they want to fix this. Please fix this before the credibility of the officials and the NFL is beyond repair. Please Mr. Blandino. Don’t let this continue. The calls come at game speed I undestand. Fix the terrible calls that you don’t need slow motion in HD to see fix the inconsistencies between crews. That is how you should protect the integrity of the Shield

  4. Officials had an odd setup on KO after CHI TD beginning of 4th qtr. Officials on same side, 35, 40 and 45 yard lines, no official at goal line with R. They are already down an official (whether by choice or circumstances, I can’t tell), so curious as to why they did this.

  5. The officials are starting to not understand the game of football. Just saw a D lineman (96 Sims) on the Bengals get a 15 yard unsportsmanlike on tackling Leveon Bell. Seriously? The guy had over 200 yards rushing last week! He is one of the best backs in the league. If he is not down, make sure he is! He breaks tackles! This was nothing more than finishing a tackle!

    This is an experienced crew with a good R (Vinovich) as the leader.

  6. Predictably, the Steelers are gifted a first down and then go on to score a TD.

    Stop the madness.

  7. @Derek RE:Kickoff mechanics — Down 27-17 in the 4th quarter, Robbie Gould set up for an apparent onside kick, and the Packers lined up to match it. The onside kick mechanic has officials on the kicking team’s restraining line, the receiving team’s restraining line, and then at the 5-yard mark in the middle. The line judge and head linesman come from the goal line up to the middle 5-yard mark (in most cases, the 40).

  8. One of the things I’ve been noticing – and it was an issue again with the Green Bay/Chicago game – is that a lot of defenders are getting away with pass interference by holding the receivers’ hand while it’s still down low. The officials can’t see it, and the defenders know this, so they’re starting to do it more and more. (This is one reason it would be nice to allow a review for pass interference.)

  9. Can someone on the Zebras staff please explain why the Ravens twice were flagged for illegal contact when it appeared that on both occasions the Raven linebacker had established his position about 7 yards downfield and Zach Ertz initiated contact by running into Zach Orr and CJ Mosley. Isn’t a defender entitled to the position he has established? Or is this another of the “let’s favor the offense” calls that is destroying the NFL game?

  10. Why no discussion of the missed blow to Matthew Stafford’s head on 3rd down inside the red zone during the Lions-Giants game? Why is it that other teams can get away with something like this, but Detroit has to put up missed calls game after game, year after year, decade after decade? This is not just random mistakes, there is a definite biased against the Detroit Lions. NFL = Never Fair to the Lions.

  11. @ Ron and JW

    You want the NFL to become more over-officious?

    You want the NFL to begin reviewing every pass interference call or non call? That won’t slow down the game!

    You want 15 yard penalties every time anyone brushes the QB? Why not put flags on their waists!

    Enough already!

  12. In the Giants / Detroit kick out of bounds Either the interpretation of the following or the rule needs to be changed. Since it is first touched by the receiving team they should receive the ball at the spot of the foul. The fact that he is out of bounds should just kill the play. How do you punish the kicking team when they did not commit a foul. If he decides not to touch it out of bounds it is a live ball and they the kicking team can recover. That has to be the worst interpretation of a rule in just about any sport I have seen.

    Article 3. Free Kick Out of Bounds
    The kicking team may not kick the ball out of bounds or be the last to touch the ball before it goes out of bounds between the goal lines. If the receiving team is the last to touch the ball before it goes out of bounds, the receiving team puts the ball in play at the inbounds spot. The ball is inbounds when the player touches the ball.

  13. “You want the NFL to become more over-officious?”

    No, and that’s why I think that allowing 2 or 3 challenges a game (which was designed for a time before scoring plays and turnovers were automatically reviewed) are too many… unless they’re successful, in which case there should be no limit. I’d give each coach one challenge per game, and as long as he’s successful he keeps it. Right now, coaches know they can throw a challenge away, and so we get a lot of challenges for correctly called plays or nebulous calls. And that’s what slows down the game.

  14. Why is there no commentary regarding the obvious OPI on Beckham’s touchdown? The outside receiver ran straight at his defender and blocked him 5 yards deep into the end zone before the pass was caught. You can see it on virtually every replay. It’s textbook OPI.

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