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Inadvertent Whistle in Bengals - Raiders Game


Bobref
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The football world is losing its collective mind this morning over a play in the Bengals - Raiders wild card game yesterday. Shortly before the end of the first half, the Bengals’ Joe Burrow threw a TD pass that has generated a sh*tstorm of controversy. The Bengals were leading by a TD at the time, and that was the final margin of victory. Today, the fans, aided by the media, are calling for the crew chief, Jerome Boger, to be fired … if not tarred and feathered. But if we break down the play, we understand what happened.

The video shows the likely explanation. As Burrow scrambled to his sideline, the short wing on that side was camped out on the LOS at the sideline - right where he is supposed to be. Burrow ran right at him, and he was forced to sidestep, turn and rule on the play as Burrow released the ball right at the sideline. He was so close to Burrow that he was unable to see both the feet and the ball at the same time. He looked at the feet, and (I believe — the NFL did not identify the official who blew the whistle in the post game comment on the play) blew the whistle. After the play was over, the officials communicated, and another crew member called him off the play, which was the correct ruling. Then, they had to decide whether the whistle blew before the catch, since a whistle while the pass is in flight would require a replay of the down at the previous spot. When the whistle blew is not reviewable by replay under NFL rules. They ruled the ball was caught first and let the TD stand. Subsequent forensic analysis showed that the whistle blew about .10 seconds before the catch.

IMO, this is much ado about very little. The erroneous out of bounds call by the short wing was unfortunate, but understandable under the circumstances, and the crew functioned appropriately in communicating and getting that call right. Human reaction time is about 250 milliseconds to see something and initiate a reaction to it. The YouTube video does not show anyone reacting to the whistle before the ball gets there, and you wouldn’t expect to see that. In other words, the whistle blowing 1/10 of a second before the ball arrived had no effect on the play. 

An interesting play, but actually handled pretty well, although those officials are being pilloried today.

 

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@Bobref I am curious your thoughts - not about this play in general,  but the NFL practice of mixing crews for the postseason. 

This kind of play is difficult to officiate obviously. But I can’t imagine the pressure of conferring with a wing and back judge you might never have worked with to decide the correct call on national TV. 

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2 hours ago, oldtimeqb said:

@Bobref I am curious your thoughts - not about this play in general,  but the NFL practice of mixing crews for the postseason. 

This kind of play is difficult to officiate obviously. But I can’t imagine the pressure of conferring with a wing and back judge you might never have worked with to decide the correct call on national TV. 

I don’t think it’s much of an issue at the NFL level. There are about 120 officials in the NFL. They all get the same memos, watch the same film, go to the same clinics, listen to the same supervisors. They should be as close to interchangeable as humanly possible. Plus, they are pretty good to start with.

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23 hours ago, Bobref said:

I don’t think it’s much of an issue at the NFL level. There are about 120 officials in the NFL. They all get the same memos, watch the same film, go to the same clinics, listen to the same supervisors. They should be as close to interchangeable as humanly possible. Plus, they are pretty good to start with.

I agree with this. These officials work together at clinics and pre-season camps, attend the same meetings, and often change crews year to year. Mixed crews in the NFL is very different than mixed crews at the HS level.

I also believe the NFL philosophy is to make this a catch even if the whistle blew shortly before the catch. The only other time I remember this happening was a Patriots game a few years ago. Brady had rolled out to the near side and threw a pass downfield. It was caught and the receiver advance several yards and possibly a TD. The defensive coach was on the near sideline and he was upset about something (missed hold maybe?). He actually got in front of the wing official during the play. This distraction caused him to blow his whistle while the ball was in the air and just before the receiver caught it. They ruled the whistle had no impact on the catch so they awarded the catch but not the advance. I believe they were supported on that ruling.

Rules can be complex but they don't always address every combination of every situation in a game. That's why it's so important for the officials to know the intent and philosophy of the rules to handle situations like this.

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1 hour ago, JustRules said:

Rules can be complex but they don't always address every combination of every situation in a game. That's why it's so important for the officials to know the intent and philosophy of the rules to handle situations like this.

I’ve been watching all the armchair officials on the internet commenting something like this:

”The whistle had no impact on the play, but still, a rule’s a rule so the TD shouldn’t have counted.” 

This is often followed by demands that all or some of the officials involved should be fired, or tarred and feathered, or prosecuted for obvious corruption, etc.

Please save us from “rule book” officials.

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13 hours ago, Bobref said:

I’ve been watching all the armchair officials on the internet commenting something like this:

”The whistle had no impact on the play, but still, a rule’s a rule so the TD shouldn’t have counted.” 

This is often followed by demands that all or some of the officials involved should be fired, or tarred and feathered, or prosecuted for obvious corruption, etc.

Please save us from “rule book” officials.

Then you get Prescott and his comments about the official (s) after the Cowboys loss.

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4 minutes ago, Goose Liver said:

He has no excuses.

Nope.  Not a one.  Unless he chooses to point the thumb and not the finger, I really have no further care to hear what he has to say regarding that game.

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