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Week 16 officiating video: (un)intentional grounding?



Dean Blandino released the weekly officiating video, which is posted below. In it he first discussed intentional grounding, which occurs when the quarterback throws the ball from inside the tackle box to an area with no eligible receiver. The quarterback is allowed to leave the pocket and throw the ball away to an area without an eligible receiver provided it goes to or beyond the line of scrimmage. In the Raiders-Colts game, quarterback Derek Carr threw the ball from the pocket downfield and a miscommunication between him and the receiver caused the ball to land in an area with no eligible receiver. Blandino explained:

Officials are not taking [the miscommunication] into consideration. It would be difficult in a lot of situations to determine was that a miscommunication, was the quarterback just dumping the ball, so we don’t want to add a layer of judgment to this call.

Blandino also stated that any ball that lands in the vicinity of an eligible receiver is legal, even if the receiver is in a blocking posture.

Also covered were in-game clock stoppages. In the Saints-Buccaneers game, a Saints runner fumbled the ball out of bounds inside two minutes left the half. However, any time the ball goes out of bounds as a result of a fumble or backwards pass, the clock does not stop and then start on the next snap because the runner also did not go out. The clock stops initially and then starts when the referee gives the ready-for-play signal.

On a quarterback slide, the play is dead when any body part other than the feet or hands touches the ground and the ball is placed at the dead ball spot. In the Eagles/Giants game, quarterback Carson Wentz appeared to fumble the ball when slid to give himself up but the referee ruled that his knee was down before the ball came loose. The Giants did not challenge and the only parts of the play that are reviewable is whether or not the ball came loose before a body part touched the ground or challenge the dead ball spot. Teams cannot challenge whether or not the quarterback slid feet first as that is a judgment call by the official.

Blandino also covered fumbled snap recoveries, as we covered in the liveblog. A snap is considered a backward pass and is a live ball as long as the center brings his hand back with control of the ball. Inside of two minutes or on 4th down, any offensive player can recovery and advance the ball, which is different from a fumble, where the player on offense who fumbled is the only player who can advance the ball.

Lastly, Blandino covered the quarterback taking a knee in the victory formation. At the end of the 49ers-Rams game, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick simulated taking a knee and the refs blew the play dead. Once a player simulates taking the knee, the play is dead. If player drops back and doesn’t crouch or simulate, then he is still subject to legal hits until he gives himself up.

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