By: Barry Barnes, Founder
As it stands through eight weeks, the points of emphasis legislated by NFL Football Operations have clearly translated from video boards in the front offices to the field of play. With the 2016 NFL season at its midpoint with a great deal of the campaign remaining, the NFL Caretakers are not flagging around.
The playing field is leveled as the parity of the game is better than ever. In terms of infractions committed and penalized, both the players and the governors of the game are mindful of the transactions on the gridiron to keep the game inbounds.
According to NFL Football Operations, 0ut of the eight points of emphasis, six categorical infringements been penalized less this season compared to last year following Week 8.
Illegal Contact 41 (43 – 2015)
Defensive Holding 135 (156 – 2015)
Offensive Pass Interference 61 (66 – 2015)
Illegal Use of Hands 59 (90 – 2015)
Unnecessary Roughness 106 (123 – 2015)
Roughing the Passer 37 (56 – 2015)
When dealing with Unsportsmanlike Conduct (41) and Taunting (22), the competitive nature of the sport will have these points of emphasis fluctuating.
Clearly, teams aren’t flagged as much, comparably to last season as 16.74 penalties were called per game (2009), 62 less than last season (2071 at 17.4 per game). However, 121.41 penalty yards were racked up each outing, the most ever.
In accordance to the professional impartiality of the officiating crew, and the league’s focus, The NFL Caretakers are growing with the sport as well.
In referencing to wellness, head linesman Ed Walker is making a speedy recovery after sustaining a torn quadriceps muscle in Week 8. Walker was assigned to the Minnesota Vikings/Chicago Bears Monday Night matchup. He was injured in the first quarter.
Walker will return shortly.
However, let’s get to the highlights right now.
WEEK 5 – WASHINGTON REDSKINS VS. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Referee Ron Torbert and his crew had a crazy afternoon in this matchup. Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley scooped the ball into the endzone after a dramatic interception, forcing a touchback in the Redskins’ favor. That was a great on-the-field call, which was highlighted on many reruns.
Moreover, there was a critical exchange that did not make the nightlights.
With :48 seconds remaining in regulation on first-and-10 from the Redskins’ 34, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw a short pass towards the right side line to wide receiver Mike Wallace. Blanketed by Redskins cornerback Josh Norman, Wallace caught the pass prior to falling out of bounds.
The play at first glance appeared to be incomplete. Side judge Greg Gautreaux was on top of the play, and ruled the pass complete.
Following replay, the back heel of Wallace’s right foot was in bounds. Great on the field call.
WEEK 5 – SAN DIEGO CHARGERS VS. OAKLAND RAIDERS
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr got into a shootout with veteran signal caller Phillip River for this matchup. And referee Gene Steratore and his crew were fully protected with flags and whistles.
In the fourth quarter with 14:54 on the clock, while facing first-and-goal from the Chargers’ seven, Carr dropped back and fired a dart to wide receiver Amari Cooper at the back of the endzone, guarded tightly by Chargers safety Dexter McCoil.
Was it a touchdown?
According to back judge Dino Paganelli, it was not, as he ruled the pass incomplete and flagged McCoil for pass interference.
Play stopped for nearly five minutes due to the Raiders challenge and the lengthy conversation among the officiating crew determining if Cooper was forced out of bounds.
After the briefing, Steratore came to this conclusion:
“We have pass interference, defense number 23. The contact, which was airborne pushes the receiver out, which creates pass interference, defense. There was also an incomplete pass. So by rule, the ball will be placed at the one-yard line. First and goal, Oakland.”
Receivers cannot be the first to touch ball when they go out of bounds on their own. If pushed out, he can come back in to make a catch, which was the case for Cooper.
After further review, Cooper only had one foot in bounds.
The rule was upheld. Killer job Dino, Gene and the gang.
WEEK 7 – HOUSTON TEXANS VS. DENVER BRONCOS
This play was pinpointed as a bizarre play. To the contrary, it was great awareness by referee Carl Cheffers and his troops.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler dropped back to attempt a pass when the ball slipped out his hands to squirt a yard forward from the line of scrimmage. Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. scooped up the loose ball, drifted up the field and stopped.
Since there was no movement, the crew had blown their whistles.
Head linesman Kent Payne approached Cheffers, and after a brief discussion, Cheffers’ ruling was “a fumble, recovered by the defense, and dropped at this point. It’s Denver’s ball.”
Cheffers’ comment of “dropped at this point” was because a beanbag to mark the spot of the recovery was not thrown. Cheffers stood with Payne where the turnover occurred during their dialogue.
After the review, the ball clearly was coming out of Osweiler’s hand before his arm went forward, causing the outcome to be a fumble.
Great call by Payne, Cheffers and the crew. Bad play on Harris for not finishing the play out. Of note, back judge Jim Quirk did flag an illegal contact penalty on the play earlier, but it was removed.
WEEK 8 – NEW ORLEANS SAINTS VS. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
With :50 second remaining in the half, the Saints were facing second and goal from the Seahawks’ one-yard line. Saints running back Tim Hightower ran over the left guard, and in the midst of the pile up, he fell across the goal line.
Line judge Rusty Baynes sprinted towards the group of players declared that Hightower’s right knee hit the ground. No touchdown.
Following a booth review, Baynes was correct in his judgement.
Solid job and great focus by Baynes.
WEEK 8 – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VS. BUFFALO BILLS
Referee John Parry and his band of men had a front row seat of excitement in this contest. In addition, line judge Jeff Seeman was spot on for an exciting execution.
On the Patriots’ first possession entering the second half, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hit wide receiver Julian Edelman on a swing pass. Edelman scrambled and was wrapped by Bills safety Corey Graham at the Bills’ three, but Edelman twisted and extended the ball across the goal line with his left hand slightly before his body fully hit the ground.
Edelman could have been easily mistaken for being down as his body paralleled to the ground with his right forearm keeping his body up. Nevertheless, Seeman ventured up the sideline following Edelman’s balancing act.
Seeman gave the head nod to field judge Jabir Walker to signal a touchdown. After review, the ruling was “confirmed” a touchdown.
WEEK 9 – DALLAS COWBOYS VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS
As the clock wound down to 10:09 in the second quarter, the Cowboys were on the move. Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott took the handoff and bounced to the right side of the field on first-and-10 from the Browns’ 10-yard line.
Elliott sprinted towards the pylon as Browns rookie defensive back Tracy Howard gunned him down. Elliott drove toward the endzone stretching the ball across the goal line with his left hand, while keeping his body afloat with his right hand out of bounds.
Side judge Dyrol Prioleau and head lineman Jeff Bergman, of Jeff Triplette’s crew, quick discussed the play and ruled a touchdown.
After review, Elliott had the ball across goal line a split second before his right hand landed out of bounds.
The NFL Caretakers may have their occasional mishaps, like players and coaches. Other than that, most episodes are not missed.