Three personal fouls happened on one play during the Cardinals-49ers game on Sunday. Our esteemed NFL rules expert breaks down the proper procedure for sorting that out.
The refs hand their hands full in San Francisco.
Ben Margot / AP
By MIKE PEREIRA
Pay attention class, because officiating 101 is now in session.
There was a wild play in the Arizona-San Francisco game on a touchdown late in the fourth quarter with the 49ers leading the Cardinals 22-20.
Here was the situation: San Francisco had the ball, second-and-6 at the Arizona 6-yard line with 6:40 to go in the game. 49ers' running back Kendall Hunter ran the ball up the middle for a touchdown. Three dead ball fouls were called on this play, two on the 49ers and one on the Cardinals, but they all offset and the touchdown stayed as called.
First of all, it's not quantity over quality.
Foul No. 1: After Hunter crossed the goal line, Arizona's Tyrann Mathieu picked him up and slammed him to the ground.
Foul No. 2: Arizona's Anquan Boldin came to Hunter's defense and in retaliation picked up a personal foul. First, he shoved Mathieu, but that wasn't a foul. Boldin must have thought he was auditioning for WWE because he then applied a head-butt to Mathieu. Now, that was your personnel foul.
Foul No. 3: This took place back in the area of the interior line blocks, where San Francisco's Alex Boone took a swing at Alameda Ta'amu. Ta'amu then retaliated by kicking Boone in the face. Ta' amu wasn't called for a foul, but should have been.
I got many tweets questioning why the touchdown was allowed to stand, considering the 49ers had two personal fouls on the play and the Cardinals had only one.
But that's not the case. Because even when there is more than one foul on one team, it offsets a single foul by the other team. You don't play the two vs. one or the three vs. two.
Two dead ball fouls â fouls by each team after the play is over â offset no matter if there are multiple fouls against one team and only one against the other.
Got it? There will be a test.
WAIT, NO RUN-OFF?
A very confusing play happened in the Green Bay-Baltimore game right before halftime.
Here was the situation: Green Bay had the ball, third-and-19 from the Baltimore 26-yard line with 35 seconds left in the second quarter. Green Bay led 3-0. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed a pass to Randall Cobb for 15 yards to the Baltimore 11-yard line. Cobb was hit by Matt Elam and was injured on the play.
First, Green Bay was out of timeouts. When you're out of timeouts, if the offense has an injury and it's the injury that stops the clock, there is an automatic 10-second run off. This occurs inside of two minutes.
Second, there was a personal foul penalty called on the Packers' Don Barclay.
However, since a foul was called, the foul is deemed to be the reason that clock stop. That takes precedent over the injury stopping the clock, so there was no 10-second run off.
An excellent explanation by referee Gene Steratore.
By the way, though Cobb was considered defenseless, it is not a foul for hitting a defenseless receiver low. It's not a foul, but it is a concern and the league will include this on their list of plays that they'll show to the competition committee where low hits on a defenseless player creates injuries. It did here and in the preseason to Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller.
COOL UNDER PRESSURE
We got a rarity in one of the early Sunday matchups. It took place in the Philadelphia-Tampa Bay game.
Here was the situation: Philadelphia had, first-and-10 from the Eagles' 27-yard line with 10:43 left in the first quarter. Philadelphia led 7-0. Running back LeSean McCoy carried the ball for 12 yards and fumbled ball when he was tackled by Darrelle Revis. Revis picked up the ball and returned it for a touchdown.
Then came the review.
This is one of the rare instances where the replay official and the referee know they have to review two things: A. was it a fumble and B. was the recovering player down by contact. On the field it was ruled a fumble and Revis was not ruled down, therefore it was a touchdown on the field.
First thing they do when they look at this is confirm it's a fumble, which you can do in one quick shot. Then in the remaining time, which is only 60 seconds total, you have to see if Revis was down. Revis' butt was on the ground when McCoy touched him on the right shoulder, so they correctly reversed back to Revis being down at that point and make the clock adjustment. And I want to emphasize again, they did all of this in 60 seconds.
They made the clock adjustment because they had to reset the clock back to the point of recovery by Revis because the clock stops on a change of possession.