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Friday, October 30, 2015

Frame by Frame: Ross's "Fumble"?


Week two of my Phantom Calls motif.

Yet, not only week two of Phantom Calls themselves.

With the Ravens up 10-7 in the second quarter last Monday night, 2 minutes left in the half, having forced the Cardinals to punt for the third possession in a row, WR Jeremy Ross went back to receive the punt.  He did, and after a useful return, he was hit by Arizona reserve corner Justin Bethel.  Bethel rode Ross to the ground, executing a nearly indefensible wrestle-strip move on the way, gobbling the ball into his arms when they hit the ground.

The question became, was Ross down?

After reviewing the play and ESPN showing what seemed to be a pretty solid evidence to overturn (regardless of the bumbling guest referee/commentator they had trying to justify the call all the way), the referees reported the call as standing (as opposed to being confirmed) and moved on.

Arizona now had the ball, the momentum, and 20 yards to score.

Along with a number of other Phantom Calls in this game, the question lingered: was the call right?  Was this a fumble?

Let's check it out after the jump.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Further Review: The Holding Penalty on Smith

ARTICLE 5. LEGAL USE OF HANDS OR ARMS BY DEFENSE
A defensive player may use his hands, arms, or body to push, pull, or ward off offensive players:
  1. when he is defending himself against an obstructing opponent while attempting to reach the runner
  2. when an opponent is obviously attempting to block him
  3. in a personal attempt to reach a loose ball that has touched the ground during a backward pass, fumble, or kick
  4. during a forward pass that has crossed the neutral zone and has been touched by any player.
Exception 1: An eligible receiver is considered to be an obstructing opponent only to a point five yards beyond the line of scrimmage unless the player who receives the snap demonstrates no further intention to pass the ball (including handing off the ball, pitching the ball, or moving out of the pocket). See 8-4-2–3 for rules applicable to Illegal Contact with an eligible receiver.
--from the 2015 NFL Rule Book, emphasis mine.
I react.
I physically react every time I see the play.  With a twitch of the arm, an air punch, an attitudinal jerk.
The reason is, the holding called from 25 yards away by a sight-line-obstructed ref is nowhere near the spirit of the rule at best, a blatant misfire at worst.  This call gave the 49ers a first down and took all of our remaining timeouts (this includes the 2 minute warning), leaving only one minute plus to try and navigate the field.  Why make a marginal call like that at a time like that?
Was it really holding?  Was it blatant and inexcusable?  Was it merely a breaking of the rule, worthy of a flag? Or was it none of the above?  Let's take a closer look.