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Quick calls: Week 3

Liveblog coverage of the calls and rules interpretations in Week 3.



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 Sep 24 • 8:27 pm EDT


Von Miller’s taunting foul

Broncos at Bills (video). Broncos linebacker Von Miller extends a hand to Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. As Taylor reaches out, Miller channels his inner Nelson Muntz and withdraws the hand. Referee Carl Cheffers flagged this as unsportsmanlike conduct, which is marginal at best. The Bills were able to save their score-padding drive by avoiding a punt situation, although game situation must never enter the head of the official when deciding on a call.

However, one of the provisions of the taunting rules is that it is a foul to stand over your opponent at the conclusion of the play. This absorbs in a lot of the in-your-face tactics that can spur retaliation. In the end, Cheffers had to make a judgement call on whether this fell into the category — and Cheffers sees a prone player with an opponent playing a prank above him. 

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 24 • 7:42 pm EDT


12 men, including the jumper

Bengals at Packers. The Bengals were flagged for 12 players on the field, which is a live-ball foul. The Bengals challenged the call, hoping to get the sack that occurred on the play. The player exiting the field leaps for the sideline, but he is not out of bounds until he steps out. Being out of bounds in the air is still in bounds by rule.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 24 • 7:10 pm EDT


Delay of game on offensive lineman

Giants at Eagles. The Eagles defense had 12 players on the field, and as the Giants lined up, offensive guard John Jerry held his arm out to slow the player to the sideline. This was a delay of game foul, but not one that would kill the snap. The play was allowed to go to its conclusion — a 7-yard gain and a first down — and assessed as a live-ball foul. The Giants had to settle for a field goal after the ensuing play.

Incidentally, this obstruction is not listed as one of the delay actions that are not play-clock related in Rule 4-6-5, but the list begins with “including, but not limited to…”. Essentially any action or inaction that can be construed as delaying the game is a foul.

Matt Holmquist
Sun Sep 24 • 5:49 pm EDT


Process of a catch: Cooks maintains control

Texans at Patriots (video). Late in the game, the winning touchdown for the Patriots was a pass from Tom Brady to Brandin Cooks. Cooks secured the ball in the air and tapped both feet in the end zone before he fell to the ground out of bounds.

The two feet were clearly in the end zone without much deliberation, but replay intervened to take a second look. Initially, it looked like Cooks may have caught the ball while upright and then hopped out of bounds; however, Cooks being off balance caused him to fall out of bounds. Because he was was “going to the ground”, he must maintain control throughout the process of the catch. In other words, if he is deemed to be going to the ground, he must “survive the ground”.

The second and third angles of the video show that the ball hit the ground in Cooks’ arms. The ball moved, but a slight movement of the ball is not considered a loss of possession. Since Cooks did not lose control, the catch was confirmed in replay.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 24 • 5:17 pm EDT


Sherman penalty hat-trick

Seahawks at Titans. On one play Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was able to accumulate three fouls in perhaps the most bizarre fashion.

He was flagged for defensive pass interference prior to an interception. He took out frustration on contact by the receiver (deemed to be incidental) by pushing him over during the play. That was offensive holding, since it was after the Seahawks were in possession. Sherman was appalled that there was no flag on the Titans, and removes his helmet while he was yelling at field judge Scott Edwards. Then, Edwards threw his hat to indicate another foul.

The unsportsmanlike conduct foul is a foul against an official, so it is banked to be enforced between downs. That leaves the DPI and the holding, and the DPI wipes out the interception, but not the hold. Titans get the spot of the foul, and then the unsportsmanlike is enforced from there. Sherman is also one unsportsmanlike foul (of a certain group of fouls) away from being ejected from the game.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 24 • 5:08 pm EDT


Replay reversal ends the game

Falcons at Lions (video). The Lions lose in such heartbreaking fashion that just seems to define the franchise. On the field, receiver Golden Tate is ruled to have scored a touchdown with 8 seconds remaining in the game.

After review, Tate is ruled down in the field of play. When a replay reversal changes a ruling from a stopped clock (touchdown) to a running clock (down in field of play), there is a 10-second runoff to offset the advantage gained by the offense. Had the call been made short on the field, the Lions would not be at the line of scrimmage at 8 seconds. A replay runoff can only be offset by a timeout by either team, and the Lions had none remaining.

Not only were the 6 points taken off the board, but the last 8 seconds were as well. The game ended inside the 1, with Lions fans shaking their heads “not again!”

And, to answer the question if the clock could potentially be reset to 11 seconds, leaving 1 second after the runoff: When the dead-ball spot is essentially the same area without additional time consumed (i.e., reversal of a run) and the clock would be running, there is no adjustment.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 24 • 3:49 pm EDT


Forward fumble out of bounds

Texans at Patriots (video). Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has an impressive run after a catch until …

Gronkowski fumbles the ball at the 50. Both teams try to recover the ball until it finally goes out of bounds at the Texans 36 yard-line. By rule, an out-of-bound fumble goes to the least advantageous spot for the fumbling team. (Exception: out of bounds in the end zone is a touchback and loss of possession.) In this case, it goes to the spot of the fumble, but a backwards fumble would go to the dead-ball spot.

Rich Madrid
Sun Sep 24 • 3:45 pm EDT


Excessive celebration has coach pissed

Giants at Eagles (image). After catching a touchdown pass against the Eagles, Odell Beckham Jr. was flagged for excessive celebration for appearing to urinate on the Eagles field. The 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty was assessed on the kickoff but does not count toward a player’s two before they are disqualified.

Cameron Filipe
Sun Sep 24 • 3:31 pm EDT


Blocked field goal return and fumble

Steelers at Bears. The Chicago blocked field goal return and subsequent fumble into the end zone is its own post.

Rich Madrid
Sun Sep 24 • 3:08 pm EDT


Down by contact, by a finger

Saints at Panthers. Christian McCaffrey dove to catch pass and in the process of securing it, tried to stand back up and run downfield due to the play not being blown dead. McCaffrey appeared to be touched by the finger tips of Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro and during the subsequent challenge by the Saints, video replay reversed the run and McCaffrey was ruled down by contact.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 24 • 2:54 pm EDT


Aerial touchdown inside the pylon

Browns at Colts (video). Running back Duke Johnson launches for the end zone for a Browns touchdown. Side judge Alex Kemp points to down judge Greg Bradley. Kemp has the call on breaking the plane of the goal, Bradley must rule on the fact that the ball passed over or inside of the pylon, which is required for an airborne runner.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 24 • 12:42 pm EDT


Teams off the field for anthem

Steelers at Bears (video). Steelers coach Mike Tomlin stated on the CBS pregame show that his team willbe in the locker room for the National Anthem. The league doesn’t have a policy position on what players do during the anthem, except that they must be on the field:

If a team is not present 10 minutes before kickoff, then it is a 15-yard penalty on the opening kickoff plus a loss of coin-toss options for both halves and overtime (which means kicking at the start of each half). The anthem starts 3 minutes before kickoff.

Seahawks at Titans. Both teams were not on the field for the anthem. Still trying to confirm, but it appears that all three teams were on the field at the 10-minute mark, then retired to the tunnel area prior to the anthem. As long as the coin toss or kickoff was not significantly delayed, there wouldn’t be a foul.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 24 • 12:30 pm EDT


Today’s officials

Week 3 referee assignments

2017 officiating crews


  • U64 Dan Ferrell* to Corrrente’s crew (OAK-WAS/night)
  • U129 Bill Schuster* to Anderson’s crew (KC-LAC)
  • DJ37 Jim Howey* to Torbert’s crew (SEA-TEN)
  • LJ68 Tom Stephan* to Boger’s crew (NYG-PHI)
  • FJ15 Rick Patterson* to Vinovich’s crew as SJ (NO-CAR)

*Swing officials that are assigned to different crews each week


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