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Quick calls: Week 9

Liveblog coverage of the calls and rules interpretations in Week 9.



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 Nov 5 • 11:43 pm EST


Touchdown call stands, vol. 3

Broncos at Eagles (video). After being traded from the Dolphins this week, Jay Ajayi cranks out a 46-yard run for the Eagles in his Philadelphia debut. As Ajayi crosses the goal line, he leaps in the air, and an airborne runner must keep the ball inside, above, or into the pylon. Based on how he crosses the line, it seems likely that the ball did cross the plane in bounds. Without any clear view that establishes the ball out of bounds at that point, there is no other call than to allow the touchdown to stand.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 5 • 11:39 pm EST


Touchdown call stands, vol. 2

Broncos at Eagles (video). Trey Burton hauls in an Eagles touchdown pass with an assist from his lap. Did he complete the process of the catch in bounds? The call on the play allowed the touchdown to stand.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 5 • 11:05 pm EST


Touchdown call stands, vol. 1

Bengals at Jaguars (video). Bengals running back Joe Mixon extends for the goal line and is initially ruled to have scored the touchdown. Mixon’s elbow comes down, but there is not a clear shot down the line that shows that the ball is short of the goal line at that point. It certainly looks like it may be, but all of the angles are not conclusive.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 5 • 8:49 pm EST


Confusion at the end of Seahawks game

Washington at Seattle. Late in the fourth quarter, down by 3, the Seahawks were still on their side of the 50 with 15 seconds to go. Out of options on the play, quarterback Russell Wilson attempted to throw a pass which was immediately knocked down. The clock stopped with 11 seconds to go, but it should have been running.

Referee Ron Torbert, who has primary responsibility for the quarterback, correctly ruled that Wilson’s knee was down prior to the pass. This means there is no clock stoppage, and Torbert signaled to keep the clock rolling. (Torbert’s signal was not visible to the television audience, as they were showing a replay.) The clock restarted, and the Seahawks quickly lined up to spike the ball with 4 seconds. The spike technically did not occur, because the replay official called for a review prior to the snap. (When there is a running clock, the replay official will wait to trigger a review when the offense is in formation, so that the offense does not get the benefit of “saved” time.)

The replay review confirmed the down-by-contact ruling. Since the review came at 4 seconds, the clock was properly set, albeit some lost time in the stop/start transaction that cannot be reclaimed. It would have started on the snap

There may have been dueling signals (incomplete and down-by-contact), but the TV angles did not show this.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 5 • 8:13 pm EST


Hit on sliding QB starts fight

Cardinals at 49ers. In the play that caused the fight (listed below), 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard slid late and was hit. A sliding runner cannot expect to be immune from contact if the slide happens when contact is imminent. In this case, the hit seems unavoidable, however the defender must avoid forcible blows to the head or neck area.

It seems that the hit by Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea was in a legal zone, as Bethea appears to “go over the top” of Beathard, which is what is encouraged. This changes what would be a forcible blow to indirect contact to the head. However, situations such as this where a decision has to be made at game speed, an official might err on the side of safety and call the foul. This is alsoencouraged, if there is a question of a legal hit or an illegal hit to the head.

The late hit is a dead-ball foul. The 3 fighting fouls were assessed as occurring “between downs,” which places it in a different compartment from those attached to the play. Fouls that occur in the “continuing action” after the play are considered dead-ball fouls, the type that combine with other dead-ball and live-ball fouls from the prior down. Since the scrum breaks out in the immediate aftermath of the late hit, the action of the previous down is continuing, as opposed to a down that has ended and players have dispersed.

It is up to the crew’s discretion to determine when the continuing action ends and between downs begins. In the quest to penalize the instigating foul and not have it wiped out in the subsequent fight, the crew allowed the situation to bend the determination of which compartment the foul belongs in.

Rich Madrid
Sun Nov 5 • 7:17 pm EST


3 more ejections

Cardinals at 49ers (video). After a late hit on 49ers quarterback CJ Beathard as he slid, an altercation broke out between several 49ers and Cardinals players. In the ensuing melee, three more ejections to tack onto the day occurred. For the 49ers, running back Carlos Hyde was ejected for throwing a punch. For the Cardinals, Frostee Rucker and Hasson Reddick were both ejected for throwing punches. The late hit was committed by Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea and was enforced as unnecessary roughness. The disqualification penalties happened after the play was over and were offsetting so only the late hit was enforced. 

With the ejections earlier today, there now are 10 players who have been ejected this season.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 5 • 4:03 pm EST


Post-play activity boils over

Buccaneers at Saints (video). For some reason, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston thought it would be a good idea to point out Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore by pushing his index finger into the back of Lattimore’s helmet. Lattimore responded with an expected push, but nothing that would constitute roughness. Winston was not in the game at the time.

Bucs receiver Mike Evans swooped in with a flagrantly unnecessary hit to Lattimore, charging into him from behind. This was a clearly ejectable foul, but Evans was allowed to stay in the game. 

Since the infraction happened so long after the play, the crew had already transitioned to the next play. If a covering official does not see the entire infraction, they have to lean toward no ejection. This doesn’t excuse the fact that the crew clearly should have ejected Evans, as they were able to determine his actions to be worthy of a foul.

That said, if any referee is a master at tamping down tempers on opposing sidelines when the kettle is whistling hard, it is referee Bill Vinovich, who was assigned to this game.

Rich Madrid
Sun Nov 5 • 2:43 pm EST


Double disqualification

Bengals at Jaguars. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green and Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey were both ejected, which is a separate post.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 5 • 2:05 pm EST


Expect the unexpected, vol. 2

Ravens at Titans (video). Down judge Ed Walker and line judge Ron Marinucci (near sideline) have to adjust to pass coverage and the line to gain on a fake punt. In addition, Marinucci also flags the facemask foul on the end of the play.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 5 • 1:50 pm EST


Expect the unexpected, vol. 1

Buccaneers at Saints (video). Blocked punts are perhaps the most unpredictable play for officials, as the referee and umpire have to stay out of the path of the ball and the players going for it, while being in position to call the play. Referee Bill Vinovich anticipates and is ready to make the touchdown signal just as quickly.

Ben Austro
Sun Nov 5 • 12:43 pm EST


Today’s officials

Week 9 referee assignments

2017 officiating crews


  • U64 Dan Ferrell* to McAulay’s crew (OAK-MIA/night)
  • U129 Bill Schuster* to Morelli’s crew (KC-DAL)
  • LJ68 Tom Stephan* to Blakeman’s crew as DJ (DET-GB/Monday)
  • FJ15 Rick Patterson* to Corrente’s crew (ATL-CAR)
  • BJ27 Lee Dyer to Vinovich’s crew (TB-NO)
  • BJ78 Greg Meyer to Wrolstad’s crew (AZ-SF)

*Swing officials that are assigned to different crews each week

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