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Officiating video: disqualifications, blindside blocks, and reviewing Hail Mary passes for pass interference

Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron released his weekly officiating video this week, covering different plays of interest from games in the inaugural week of the centennial season of the NFL.


There were three disqualifications last week. Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack threw a punch at a Chiefs’ player and back judge Matt Edwards, in his second year, issued the disqualifying foul. Browns tackle Greg Robinson kicked at an opponent, and was flagged by Brad Allen’s crew, and New York decided to eject Robinson from the game. 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander was flagged by Alex Kemp’s crew as he lead with his head and delivered a forceful blow to Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. The centralized replay center again decide that an ejection was warranted. There have been six total ejections, including preseason, so far this season.

Legal vs. illegal blindside blocks

In two plays from the weekend, Riveron illustrated the difference between legal contact and fouls for an illegal blindside block. In the first play, from the Rams-Panthers game, Riveron highlighted four separate blocks on a single punt. Three of the blocks were legal, while one was an illegal blindside block. All four blocks were made while approaching the blocking player’s end line. The legal blocks included initiating contact with the back, and the hands. The illegal block was a forcible block initiated with the shoulder and forearm. When a blocking player is running toward or parallel to their own end line, they cannot initiate forcible contact with the head, shoulder, or forearm. This is a foul for an illegal blindside block.

In the second play, from the final week of the preseason in Washington, a Ravens offensive lineman was blocking toward his own end line, but made forcible contact by pushing the defender with his hands. This is not a foul for an illegal blindside block. Since the contact was not initiated with the head, shoulder, or forearm, this is a legal block and is also less likely to cause injury.

Reviewing pass interference on a Hail Mary pass

On the final play of the first half of the Giants-Cowboys game, New York attempted a Hail Mary pass with nine seconds remaining which fell incomplete. Replay official Brian Matoren stopped the game to initiate a review for pass interference on the play. Riveron explained that pass interference on Hail Mary plays “will be officiated in replay the same way it’s officiated on the field,” insinuating that any hindering contact must fall under a more strict “clear and obvious” standard which applied to how Hail Mary passes are officiated in real time. After review, there was no clear and obvious evidence available to put down a flag for pass interference on either team, so the ruling on the field stood.

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Cameron Filipe
Cam Filipe is a graduate student at Boston University and has been involved in football officiating for ten years. Cam is in his second season as a high school football official. This is his seventh season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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