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Football Zebras > 2017 > Week 6 > Jets lose the touchdown (and the ball) on very tight replay reversal

Jets lose the touchdown (and the ball) on very tight replay reversal

Week 6: Patriots at Jets (video)

Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins scored what appeared to be a clear touchdown. On review, not only was the touchdown reversed, the ball went to the Patriots on a touchback.

Seferian-Jenkins bobbles the ball at the 1-yard line and subsequently re-controls the ball. The bobble makes the ball a “loose ball” under the rules. Any loose ball (which includes passes) follows the catch process to establish possession. It may seem like an arbitrary designation, but this is a clear way to bookend loose ball calls by keeping all loose balls consistent, no matter how they occur. Seferian-Jenkins is going to the ground as he regains control of the ball, and lands out of bounds in the end zone. After landing, he is still struggling to demonstrate control of the ball, which is a determining factor if a player had “survived the ground,” establishing possession. This additional attempt to control takes the ball, still considered loose, out of bounds in the end zone, which is a touchback and loss of possession.

A similar call with a clearer example of loss/regaining control happened in a 2014 Washington-NY Giants game, when quarterback Robert Griffin III lost control before he broke the plane of the goal.

Was there indisputable evidence in replay to make the decision, though? While Corrente is a bystander in the centralized replay process, he is responsible for relaying the call from the home office. “Well, we went through two or three primary looks and then this other shot came up,” Corrente told a pool reporter after the game. “When the other shot came up, it was just ‘boom, boom, boom.’ It was a pretty quick determination. It was pretty obvious.”

Separately, the touchback ruling seems like a very harsh call to go against the offense, but this is consistent with all other rules regarding the end zone. This has been reviewed by the Competition Committee in the past, and they have deferred on making changes to an offensive fumble out of the end zone being ruled touchback.

Interview with referee Tony Corrente

Q: Can you just take me through the play as you saw it?

Corrente: The final shot that we saw was from the end zone that showed the New York Jets’ runner, we’ll call him a runner at that point, with the football starting to go toward the ground. He lost the ball. It came out of his control as he was almost to the ground. Now he re-grasps the ball and by rule, now he has to complete the process of a recovery, which means he has to survive the ground again. So in recovering it, he recovered, hit the knee, started to roll and the ball came out a second time. So the ball started to move in his hands this way, he’s now out of bounds in the end zone, which now created a touchback. So he didn’t survive the recovery and didn’t survive the ground during the recovery is what happened here.

Q: So this had nothing to do with the catch itself?

Corrente: Nothing to do with the catch. It was all dealing with goal line and going to the ground.

Q: The initial ruling was a touchdown. Why was that?

Corrente: Because the position of the official involved had the player’s back to him when all this action occurred, so when the player came down with the football, all he saw was the ball over the goal line and that’s why he did not know the ball came loose. Had the ball not come loose and he had crossed the goal line and he had possession and started to roll on his back, that would have been the touchdown. But because he lost the ball on his way to the ground the first time and had to re-grasp, that means now it’s a loose ball. He has to have control and survive the ground in the process of the recovery or, as we say, the process of the catch. So that’s what that was about.

Q: Who made the initial call?

Corrente: Our down judge [Patrick Turner].

Q: How long was the discussion with New York on that review?

Corrente: Well, we went through two or three primary looks and then this other shot came up. When the other shot came up, it was just “boom, boom, boom.” It was a pretty quick determination. It was pretty obvious.

Q: As far as you know, was the end zone shot shown on TV?

Corrente: I was with you in the stadium. It had to be, because that was the only shots we get is anything that’s shown on TV. We don’t get anything secret. I mean, there’s no secret shots. It has to be shown on TV. Unless — did we go to commercial break? — we went to commercial break, so I can’t tell you whether it went on TV or not because the audience was away. The replays keep showing. As they say, they will empty the can. They will show us every replay they’ve got related to the situation and that’s what happened there.

Q: If Seferian-Jenkins as a runner touched the pylon first, it would be a touchdown?

Corrente: No. You’ve got to keep in mind, he doesn’t have possession of the football yet. When he lost the ball short of the goal line, when he lost the ball, he re-gained control but that doesn’t mean he possesses the ball. He doesn’t possess the ball until he’s completed going to the ground now and re-controlling the ball, which he did not survive the ground, which is why it wasn’t a touchdown. Had he never lost control of the ball in the first place, you would have a touchdown. But because he lost the ball and now has to re-establish control of the ball, that was the period of time.

Q: He began losing the ball before he got to the goal line?

Corrente: Before he got to the goal line, yes.

Q: And he didn’t re-establish control until he was out of bounds?

Corrente: He was out of bounds.

Q: Did you think he touched the pylon?

Corrente: At what point he touched the pylon, it was during the process of trying to recover the ball. Even though he may have had the ball in his hands the second time, that control does not mean possession until he comes to the ground and shows firm control of the ball at that point.

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Ben Austro
Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)

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28 thoughts on “Jets lose the touchdown (and the ball) on very tight replay reversal

  1. Another extremely stupid rule (or extremely stupid interpretation of a rule) that goes against the common sense of anyone who has spent years watching this game.

  2. Two things:

    Tony Corrente is flat out lying about the DJ call.

    Who made the call in NY? I suspect someone who did not play a lot of football. Someone who would meet the Marv Levy standard of “over-officious jerk”.

  3. This is a very technical interpretation of the rule and does not meet the standards set by the NFL for replay. I’m betting you could not get 100 drunks in a bar to rule it was a fumble! It has to be so obvious that there isn’t a doubt. Play should’ve stood as called on the field.

  4. Who makes the call at league office? Is that Riveron or are there multiple replay officials?

    Does football zebras know who made the call?

    I can’t believe that Riveron stands by that call and that Corrente stood by it last night. Especially after Blandino and Perreira said the call should never have been overturned.

    I think the league office is protecting someone who made an egregious mistake. Only because I am sure that Corrente lied about one key detail.

  5. Nice to see the NFL officials get down to serious business in yesterdays games. The first couple of weeks of officiating were calm with few glaring errors. But the last two weeks the NFL officials have moved into full form. Whether it was the multiple hits to the head of defenseless players by the Steelers defense that went uncalled, or the officials making sure the Patriots won, the officiating crews did what they are paid to do – impact the outcome of an NFL game. Last week it was an official calmly calling a pass incomplete, then reaching into his pocket to throw a flag and call a penalty on the same play he had just ruled an incomplete pass (a phantom defensive interference of course). And then there was the comedy of the officials trying to determine of a Cowboy running back had made a first down and while studying all the TV angles, somehow, the chain crew moved the chains so that when the officials finally said, yeah, he made the first down, nobody had the correct yard marker placement for them to place the ball! And let’s not forget the free play the officials gave to one of the teams in the Chiefs Steelers game because the official could not jog backwards fast enough to get into a “safe” position. Here’s a recommendation to those old and out of shape NFL officials who have to place the ball when the offense is running a hurry up – spot the ball, turn, and run as fast as you can to your “safe place” and don’t look over your shoulder. And once at your safe place, only then, turn and look. It will be a lot safer for the official and it will avoid more of these comedic errors.

    I laughed at the term “safe space” (for the NFL official) when thinking of NHL officials. Their “safe space” on the ice is the one they skate too in a split second to avoid getting wiped out by two large men racing at full speed for the puck. The NHL officials are fast enough, and athletic enough, to officiate a game even faster than the NFL, and do so 80+ times a season without injury. Why can’t the NFL officials get out of the way? Every time an NHL linesman drops a puck for the face off, he is right in the middle of the action, immediately. Yet they do this dozens of times a game and never interfere with or hold up play. In fact, they do it so fast, and so well, you seldom even notice the NHL linesman dropping the puck. Even though they are right in the midst of ten large men with sticks trying to get the puck.

    What happened in the Steeler Chief game is just embarrassing.

  6. Once again we have an absolutely AWFUL rules knowledge by tv announcers. The so called rules expert Pereira doesn’t know that a 3rd challenge awarded only after successful first TWO (gb-min game). Those Eagle&Fouts talked trash instead of trying to investigate what happened at that TD-fumble.
    I don’t like the result and another Cheatriots win but should agree that this time Riveron was right. Sad but period.
    Thanks God we have footballzebras and brilliant explanation. Good work, guys!

  7. @dandy – No, Riveron was not correct. He is 100% wrong! Most importantly, the play was called a TD on the field. There is no way that anyone can say conclusively that he did not have control at the moment he crossed the goal line. NO WAY! Therefore, the play must stand as called. Period, the end. You and Riveron are absolutely wrong.

    Furthermore, why is Corrente speaking for the DJ, Patrick Turner? Why not interview Patrick Turner about the call he made? He is a grown man. Let’s hear what he actually saw. I feel as if Corrente was told what to say by the league office and the truth is a casualty of towing the company line.

    Last point, if Riveron was the one who made the call in NY … he must go. That is inexcusable. There is no angle that was conclusive. Terrible call.

  8. @Knowledegeisgood the question is not if he had control the moment he crossed the goal line. As the ball was previously loose he needs to re-establish control (which includes getting feet or a body part down inbounds). Looks like his knee went OOB before he did that, however as the call on the field was a TD I’d say there wasn’t enough clear evidence to overturn it. Secondly the WH speaks to the media on behalf of the crew. Think yourself lucky we get any comment, in Premier League Soccer, the refs aren’t allowed to speak to the media at all.

  9. @goodgrr – I could care less about soccer. Just like most Americans.

    On the subject of what is important – football – Corrente is lying. More than likely, someone up high told him to lie so they could present a united front. No credible official could watch that tape and state that it was conclusive enough to overturn the call on the field made by the DJ.

    And, as for the NFL which is so over officious… how do they not hire a good guy to lead the officials? Sad. Pathetic. Inexcusable. Riveron needs to be fired immediately.

    Lastly, is it Riveron that screwed up that call in NY or is he covering for another replay official? Look at old stories on footballzebras on recently hired replay officials.

  10. I found it interesting, if you go to Dean Blandino’s Twitter account, that he and Mike Pereira agreed the call of touchdown shouldn’t have been reversed because there wasn’t enough evidence to reverse it. Yes, technically I guess he lost possession for a moment, but I think this is a case of being too technical. At regular speed, the down judge couldn’t know that possession was lost, but is this really a FUMBLE? Maybe the definition of a fumble needs to be changed to say that that the ball needs to be out of possession AND on the ground. That would give the runner a chance to regain his hold and be considered still in possession for the purpose of this rule.

  11. The only thing that is hinging here is an interpretation of “clear and obvious” or not. There is movement of the ball that has to be considered. The centralized replay staffer had to make a judgment call if it was a loss of control.

    It is not an incredible stretch to justify the call based on all of the criteria that is established for such a call. And based on that call, the rules were applied correctly. However, and based on this season’s precedence for deferring on definitive replay calls, I think that the better call is “stands.”

    In no case is the call “confirmed” by the standards set by the replay operation and the rules for loose ball recoveries. With that in mind, the offense is already banking on the fact that the replay decision will be a lack of clear and obvious evidence in order to “win” the review.

  12. @Ben – Who is the centralized staffer that made the call?

    Was it Riveron?

    Or, somebody else?

  13. Either Al, vp/replay Russell Yurk, or vp/development Wayne Mackie.

    Unless there was another replay going at the time (and I think there might have been) it is likely it was Al. But that is not disclosed, and I highly doubt I would ever find out.

  14. Thanks Ben. I think it is disgraceful that the league has fallen into line behind a bad call by Riveron.

    It is very telling that Blandino and Perreira were able to speak their minds, and dispute the call, now that they are off of the NFL payroll. I am sure that Corrente was strongly encouraged to spout the company line. By strongly encouraged, I mean told what to say. I also believe Tony misrepresented what the DJ said about his call. By misrepresented … I mean he lied. And, he lied because that was the marching order he received.

    Pathetic reversal. But, more pathetic is the way the league will not admit it made a mistake. Riveron needs to be dismissed.

    And, this is not a fix or anything sinister. This is good old fashioned incompetence.

  15. @goodgrr. Here is a suggestion. Read what I wrote – “And, this is not a fix or anything sinister. This is good old fashioned incompetence.”

    Want to get specific?

    Riveron was a weak official. Carl Johnson was a weak official. Why are they moved up to NY? On the flip side- Wayne Mackie was an excellent on field official.

    This is not a hole in the rule book a la Dez Bryant and the Packers playoff game that penalized a good catch with a technically correct call that went against the spirit of the game. This call was a travesty and a mistake. There was no conclusive evidence to overturn the call in the field. It matters not who the teams were. And … everyone has been asked to blindly defend the incompetence of Riveron.

  16. Ok. What we have here if we a not an angry Jet fan or Fallen Blandino.

    Was it a catch? Yes
    Did he broke a plane? No
    Was it a fumble? Yes
    Did he reestablish possession in the air? Unclear
    Was he outbound after he hit the ground? Probably
    Was the ball moving while he hit the ground? Yes
    If that was just a catch with two feet inbounds then falling outbounds with moving ball will it be a catch? No


  17. dandy – You answered your own question –

    did he reestablish possession – unclear. This is the sole point that matters. UNCLEAR!!!!

    Therefore, play stands as called. Not confirmed. Rather, stands as called.

    Riveron should know that. He may have not even made the decision, but he owns it now and he must go. He is tainted and damaged. Not an ounce of credibility.

  18. Sounds like you lost a shit ton of money and plenty pissed. Instead of ranting on the officials, maybe you should rant on the actual rules and the way they are written..just a thought.

  19. No, dear Knowledegeisgood. Please, don’t try to forge the evidence. I said ‘possession in the air’. And it (air possession) really means nothing. If he even had a possession in the air, he lost it on landing again. And that’s what Riveron said and you can see it clearly because the ball was moving. Great that this air possession is the only thing you disagree.

    You know, Knowledegeisgood, every year, every week after each close call some angry fans come here and try to blame the officials on their ugly team loose. They try to explain that there is a conspiracy against them, that the guy who they think hates ’em personally (a referee usually) should be fired immediately. So please don’t be that fan.
    Just imagine what happened if Riveron “stand” that call. The next day angry Cheatriot fan Knowledegeisbad will come here and start to cry that ‘it was a fumble’, ‘should be a touchback’, ‘so tired of that Riveron shhhh’, ‘fire him’ and so on.

  20. @Dandy

    “The so called rules expert Pereira doesn’t know that a 3rd challenge awarded only after successful first TWO (gb-min game).”

    They asked him specifically about the video of the play. I don’t know why you’d assume that he’d know the available challenges of every game Fox was covering when the broadcasters of said game didn’t seem to know themselves.

  21. Riveron was not a good on field official so why should anyone expect him to be a good supervisor of officials. He is a joke.

    As was the play in Dallas. A veteran R screwed this up and gets away with it. Shamefully

  22. – Mike, are you surprised that was not challenged?
    – Well. I’m a… Surprised does actually not a strong enough word for me.

    Facts, dear fans, are always better than fantasies.

  23. dandy – I am not a disgruntled fan.

    I love football and the NFL and am disgusted about the direction of the league. So, here is my rant.

    I loathe Roger Goodell and the whole PC culture in the NFL. Why is the league on bended knee to a completely false narrative about cops targeting minority youth? That is a giant lie! Why has the NFL morphed into a social justice platform? Just play the damn games and run a competitive league. And, Roger, well what do you expect from a Senator’s son (an appointed on at at that!) who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth! He is gutless and afraid to stand up for the league … probably for his own feelings of white guilt. All the while, he steals multimillions for himself from the owners. He is a disgrace!

    How does this affect the officiating? Why is it an open secret that officials get in by skin or kin? Why do we have a female official who did not put in the time that the male officials did on the way up? This is the type of thing that makes people question the quality of the officiating. I have zero suspicion about corruption or game fixing. But, there is absolutely a quality and competence issue. How the heck is Riveron in charge of anything? As far as white hats, he was better than Triplette … and that is about it. And, most of the officials are top notch and are unfairly mixed in with the bad. By the way, the DJ Patrick Turner who made the call that was overturned, happens to be one of the best younger officials. But, there are a few younger guys that are questionable at best.

    That call on Sunday was a disgusting call. Should never have happened.

  24. @Dandy

    You missed the point. They brought him in to look at the video and offer his opinion. It’s perfectly reasonable for him to assume that Green Bay bad the option of challenging and didn’t. Why should he be expected to know where a dozen-plus teams are at on challenges at any given point?

    I understand your thinking. The thought certainly popped into my head watching it. If he were live at that game watching the while thing, I’d agree with you.

  25. Riveron was a PC hire due to fact he is Cuban. He was less then average on the field and took the job only because he had gained weight and had a bad knee. So he bailed out and took an office job. He was not the first choice for this job but due to the fact others turned it down, he again becomes a PC hire. I’d be shocked if he lasts more than a few years. He is a joke as the supervisor

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