We did have some interesting calls this weekend, and unfortunately, the play by play guys and color commentators remain clueless and cause most of the confusion.
In the Jets-Patriots game for instance, the pass interference call in overtime against Kyle Wilson was called by the side judge, who is positioned 20 yards down the field. The announcing team questioned why the line judge, just a few feet away, didn’t make the call. He didn’t make the call because it’s not where he is looking. The 7 officials on the filed each have their own area of responsibility. In this case the Patriots had multiple receivers to the left of the formation and only one to the right. The line judge watches the line of scrimmage and at the snap reads the tackle to determine if the play is a run or a pass. If he reads pass, he moves slightly down filed and in this case watches the running back release out of the backfield. The side judge has responsibility for the one receiver on his side. I can also tell you from on the field experience that being “Too Close” to a play limits your vision, while being within 15 to 20 yards gives you the best perspective on the entire play. Remember, we are not watching the game and certainly don’t have the same vantage point as television, or the announcers, we are watching our areas of responsibility. The merit of the call may come into question, but the proper official on the field most definitely made the call.
Discuss the similarities and differences between offensive and defensive pass interference.
Forward Pass Interference: Restrictions apply only to a legal pass, untouched by B (the defense) in or behind the neutral zone, which crosses the neutral zone and interference may occur only beyond the neutral zone. Offensive: A hinders B. The rule begins at the snap Defensive: B hinders A. The rule begins when the pass is thrown.
Offensive and defensive players have the same right to the ball, and the spot on the field they need to get to to make a play on the ball. The key is playing the ball and not the man. Any action seen as interfering with the right to make a catch or gain position to make a catch should be called interference. The key for the defender is to be looking for and playing the ball, and not just trying to prevent the offensive player from making a catch.
What about the final play (illegal touching penalty) in the Saints-Bucs game?
Simple call really, and another one messed up by the announcing crew who gave the wrong rule to the audience. The back judge in this case called it a T.D., because it is his job to determine if the players feet were in bounds when he gained possession of the ball, what you didn’t see was the side judge determined the player had left the field of play, and therefore cannot be the first one to touch the ball. After a brief discussion they got the call correct. That again was a case of gaining position. The defender did not blatantly push the receiver out of bounds, they were jockeying for position, and the receiver stepped out … He even admitted afterward that he needs to do a better job of maintaining his balance and getting to his spot.
Is it always offensive holding when the defensive player goes to the ground while the O-lineman is blocking him?
Not necessarily, but it sure grabs your attention. As an umpire I am responsible for the three guys in the middle of the line, and the off tackle. If an O-Lineman is deemed to have caused the defender to “Lose his feet” then it is a penalty. The positioning of the hands is also key on this call, as the offensive player needs to keep his hands inside the shoulders of the defender. What we tell players when they complain of holding is they need to make an effort to disengage…if they just stand there, or get pushed straight back…it’s not holding. When you make an effort to get away, that is when someone pulls a jersey, or turns you, or makes you “Lose your feet”.
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