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Week 1

Quick calls: Week 1

Liveblog coverage of Week 1 calls



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 9 • 11:30 pm EDT


Long-deliberated TD call


Demarius Thomas hauled in a pass in the end zone for the Broncos which was originally ruled out of bounds. Line judge Brian Bolinger and field judge Steve Zimmer discussed it at length before deciding that control was established before Thomas went out of bounds. Each has to piece together what they saw: one who has the catch, the other watching the feet.

The play was reviewed, and there is no evidence to clearly reverse the call as being out of bounds. The touchdown call stands.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 9 • 10:20 pm EDT


Blindside block leads to fracas and flags


A Dolphins interception leads to angry chatter. During the interception return, the Titans’ Taylor Lewan gets hit and goes down hard.

Then a lot of angry chatter erupts and Jerome Boger’s crew restores order. The officials hand out three unsportsmanlike conduct fouls but the hit on Lewan is not flagged.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 9 • 6:38 pm EDT


Ugly tie day

The Cleveland Browns find the most Clevelandliest way to break their streak of consecutive losses dating back to Week 16 of the 2016 season. The Steelers and Browns traded punts and missed field goals en route to starting the season 0-0-1, the first for any team since 1971.

In 2017, owners reduced the duration of regular-season overtime to 10 minutes. This is the first game to end in a tie since the change.

There are several Bud Light refrigerators with cans of beer-flavored water throughout the city, set to be opened when the streak was broken. This has Clevelanders checking the fine print to see if they can snag a freebie today.


Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 9 • 6:05 pm EDT


Hurdling legal in the pros


Hurdling is illegal in high school but legal in the pros. Down judge Jim Mello with the good no-call.

Rich Madrid
Sun Sep 9 • 5:54 pm EDT


Touchdown catch review

An Alex Smith touchdown pass to Jordan Reed in WAS at ARI was reviewed for completing the process of the catch. Jordan caught the pass and secured the ball going to the ground. As he secured the ball, he lunged forward toward the goal line for the touchdown. The ball hit the ground but Reed maintained complete control while completing an “act common to the game” and the play was upheld. 

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 9 • 5:11 pm EDT


Curious roughing the passer call


Referee Shawn Smith calls the Browns for roughing the passer. Not sure if Smith ruled the hit was too high or if the defender landed on the quarterback with his full weight, which is a point of emphasis this year.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 9 • 5:06 pm EDT


Good whistle control in Indy


Pete Morelli’s crew does a good job on this catch/fumble/scoop and score play that ices the game for the Bengals.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 9 • 4:57 pm EDT


High hit in Chargers-Chiefs game


Field judge Joe Larrew flags a Chiefs player for a high hit. Like it or not, these hits are not allowed and the NFL will back the officials on these calls.


Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 9 • 4:33 pm EDT


Officials double check Crabtree toe-tapper


Back judge RIck Martinez and side judge Tom Hill correctly confer before awarding Michael Crabtree with an outstanding catch and touchdown.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 9 • 4:26 pm EDT


Shawn Smith gets bonus football 

Rookie referee Shawn Smith’s first regular season football game goes overtime and he explains the modified OT rules well.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 9 • 4:24 pm EDT


Scuffle between Browns and Steelers


Artie Jones rips off Jarvis Landry’s helmet after vigorous blocking leads to a post whistle scuffle. Shawn Smith’s crew restores order, with side judge James Coleman prying the two apart.

Mark Schultz
Sun Sep 9 • 4:15 pm EDT


Controversial Gronk catch


Tony Corrente’s crew did not review a catch by Rob Gronkowski. The catch happened with under two minutes left in the half and it is replay official Lou Nazarro’s responsibility to stop the action and call for a review.

We have more in a separate post.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 9 • 2:45 pm EDT


Lightning delay


After a delayed opening kickoff on Thursday’s kickoff game, the Dolphins-Titans game suspended play after the 2-minute warning in the second quarter.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 9 • 1:47 pm EDT


Where have you gone, Gene Steratore?


Gene Steratore, who retired after calling Super Bowl LII, debuted on The NFL Today as the CBS rules analyst. Steratore will work NFL and NCAA basketball coverage on the Tiffany Network.

Cameron Filipe
Sun Sep 9 • 1:34 pm EDT


Helmet-to-helmet hit and ejection


Late in the first quarter of the Bengals-Colts game, Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck scrambled for a first down, dove head first, and was contacted unnecessarily in the head by Bengals safety Shawn Williams. Under the new use of the helmet rules, a player can be ejected from the game if the contact was clearly avoidable and the defender had other options. Line judge Jeff Seeman, field judge Anthony Jeffries, and umpire Steve Woods all threw flags on the play for the contact, and Williams was ejected from the game for the illegal hit.

Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron confirmed referee Pete Morelli’s decision to eject Williams from the game.

This is the first time in the regular season that a player has been ejected for helmet-to-helmet contact, with Shamarko Thomas being the first player ejected in the preseason.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 9 • 1:33 pm EDT


Holding with a challenge for a potential safety


The Giants were flagged for a holding call on a pass from their own end zone. Jaguars defenders immediately tented their hands to signal a safety. Referee Craig Wrolstad announced that the hold occurred at the 1-yard line.

The spot of any foul is a reviewable call, so Jaguars coach Doug Marrone challenged the no-safety call. The hold is enforced from the point where it is initiated, even though it escalates as it enters the end zone. The call was confirmed.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 9 • 1:23 pm EDT


New blood, old blood

4 new referees are taking the field in their first regular season game: Shawn Hochuli, Alex Kemp, Clay Martin, and Shawn Smith.

Referee Walt Coleman becomes the 7th official in NFL history to work 30 seasons.

Ben Austro
Sun Sep 9 • 12:43 pm EDT


Today’s officials

Week 1 referee assignments

2018 officiating crews

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