SEEING IS BELIEVING
Officials are not in the business of guessing - there must be visual evidence for calls to happen, or for them to be changed.
Here was the situation: The San Diego Chargers had the ball, third-and-4, on the Jacksonville 5-yard-line. Philip Rivers passed it to Antonio Gates for a 3-yard gain. As he was going down, the ball came loose and following the pileup, Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien came out with the ball, but no turnover was awarded. Jacksonville challenged the play, but it was upheld.
Just about everybody, including me, thought this was a fumble. And actually, so did referee Walt Coleman and replay official Bob Boylston. But, what you didn't have here was a clear recovery by the defensive team before the ball went into the pile. Without that clear recovery, you have to stay with the call on the field.
The mistake was in the announcement. The referees have been told, and will be told again, that as part of their announcement in this situation they are to say "Although it was a fumble, there was no clear recovery by a defensive player before the ball went into the pile. Therefore, by rule, the ruling on the field must stand."
Look for the referees' announcements to clarify that in the future.
ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN ...
Here is one you are not likely to see too many times.
Here was the situation: Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III threw a short pass to receiver Leonard Hankerson who then ran up the sideline, stepped out of bounds at the 5-yard-line, but dove for the end zone and hit the pylon. He was ruled out on the 5-yard-line, and a replay upheld that ruling.
A player being ruled out of bounds is not reviewable. However, if it happens near the goal line, then you can review the play through the first step after the runner was ruled to have been out. So, therefore, if the runner takes one step or less and then dives to the goal line, that whole process becomes reviewable. If he takes two steps and then dives after being ruled out of bounds, then it is not reviewable.
In this case, Hankerson dove toward the goal line from that step that where he was ruled out of bounds. The ruling on the field was upheld, which is proper because the toes on his left foot looked like it stepped out. But had Hankerson not been out-of-bounds, since the subsequent dive was right from that step, it could have been reviewed (he did not reach the pylon before landing out of bounds anyway).
KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!
Players must remember: officials are untouchable.
Here was the situation: At the conclusion of a run up-the-middle by Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard at the 8:19 mark of the second quarter, teammate Jermaine Gresham was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after brushing off an official.
Officials are allowed to put their hands on players when they are trying to break up a scuffle. Players are not allowed to knock the officials' arms off of them - it's as simple as that. Officials also have the right to use discretion whether to eject the offending player for contact with an official, which it appears they did not do. However, from the appearances of the game Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis chose to send Gresham to the locker room as part of a disciplinary process.
As a result of this incident, Gresham can also expect to be lighter in his wallet later this week.
A HAIRY SITUATION
This play raised a very interesting question: When is pulling of the hair a foul and when is it not?
Here was the situation: Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher pulls Cowboys B.W. Webb's hair as they are running down field during the first Cowboys punt of the day at the 11:39 mark in the first quarter. No penalty was called on the play and the Eagles punt receiver called for a fair catch.
This is a question that, as far as I can garner, has never been asked before.
We've only ever thought of hair pulling in relation to making a tackle - if you pull a player to the ground by grabbing his hair it is not a foul. However, if he is on the ground and you pull him off the ground by lifting him by the hair it is a foul.
But the question never came up whether it is holding when pulling a player by the hair and restricting his ability to get downfield or restricting his ability to get to a quarterback or a runner. The answer seems to be yes, so you treat the hair just like you would grabbing the jersey or wrapping up and tackling a guy in regards to holding. The consensus seems to be that if you are pulling the hair and you restrict the player then holding would be the proper call.
However, in this case there wasn't enough restriction because on a punt play the standard for holding is different, especially on the gunner. Fletcher pulls Webb's hair and let go without twisting him all the way around or pulling him to the ground.
The original article can be found at FOXSports.com: Pereira breaks down NFL Week 7 calls.