Week 15's top officiating rulings
When do two missed coach’s challenges and a booth review that wasn't reversed — all three resulting in 21 points for the opposition — not end up costing you the game?
When Michael Vick is your quarterback.
Led by Vick, the Eagles scored an incredible 28 points in the final eight minutes of the game to stun the Giants, 38-31.
Let's get right to the most interesting calls of Week 15, highlighted by the three calls that weren’t made in New York.
1. Philadelphia at New York Giants
THE SITUATION: Three different plays that ended up costing the Eagles 21 points. One was in the first quarter, another in the second and the final one was in the fourth. Yet, Philadelphia still managed to win the game.
1. The Giants had the ball third and 11 from their 28 and Eli Manning completed a pass to Hakeem Nicks for 22 yards.
2. The Eagles had the ball second and 9 from their 18 with nine seconds left until halftime. Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for 13 yards; he fumbled and the Giants recovered.
3.The Eagles had the ball first and 10 at their 20 with 13 minutes to play. Vick hit DeSean Jackson for 30 yards but the receiver fumbled and it was recovered by the Giants.
MY TAKE: This is still incredible to me. Before we start, let's not lose sight of the fact that the Eagles were playing in New York, which already leaves them at a huge disadvantage because any close call that goes in favor of the Giants will not be replayed on the stadium’s video screen.
This is "home field” advantage at its best. Let's take these one-by-one.
Play 1: In my opinion, the pass to Nicks was incomplete. Nicks did not maintain control of the ball and the ball hit the ground. Had this been challenged by Andy Reid, the ruling on the field would have been reversed. Instead, five plays later Manning hit Mario Manningham for a touchdown.
Play 2: This play was ruled a catch-and-fumble and was reviewed in replay. There was no question that it was a fumble; however, the pass could have been incomplete.
I felt that the play should have been reversed because Maclin was hit just as his second foot touched the ground which, in my opinion, makes him going to the ground as part of the process of completing the catch. During the process, you have to maintain control the whole time.
Obviously, judgment is still involved in replay. Referee John Perry felt that there was not enough visual evidence to overturn the call. One play later, Manning hit Nicks for a touchdown.
Play 3: This is another play I was surprised Reid didn't challenge. The ruling on the field was that Jackson was not down by contact. It was clear that the ball came out when Jackson hit the ground. The ground cannot cause a fumble unless the runner is deemed not to have been touched before hitting the ground.
In this case, Jonathan Goff grazed the back of Jackson's jersey before touching his hand warmer. Touching his hand warmer does not put him down, but touching his back does.
Had this been challenged, the ruling would have been reversed to down by contact. Instead, the Giants scored seven plays later when Manning hit Kevin Boss for a touchdown.
You've got to hand it to the Eagles and Vick. You don't normally overcome rulings like this and still win the game.
2. Detroit at Tampa Bay
THE SITUATION: Tampa Bay had the ball, third and 2 at the Detroit 2-yard line with 9:02 left in the fourth quarter. Tampa Bay trailed, 17-14.
THE PLAY: Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman hit Kellen Winslow for a touchdown. Offensive pass interference was called on Winslow and the touchdown was nullified.
MY TAKE: This is a tough call that turned out to have a big impact in the outcome. I felt it was incorrect because the defender played into Winslow and, at that point, both were holding on to each other and no advantage was being gained one way or another.
If anything, it almost seemed like the defender was more responsible since he initiated the contact. In plays like this, I feel it is best not to make a call at all. The Bucs had to settle for a field goal and ended up losing by three points.
3. New Orleans at Baltimore
THE SITUATION: New Orleans had the ball third and goal at the Baltimore 15 with 11:34 left in the game. The Saints trailed, 24-17.
THE PLAY: Saints quarterback Drew Brees hit Lance Moore in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Baltimore challenged the pass completion ruling and the play was upheld. The touchdown tied the score at 24.
MY TAKE: What a great catch by Moore. In review, the referee checked to see if his left foot had touched out of bounds before making the catch. It did not. He then had to see if Moore got both feet down with control of the ball, which he did.
The final thing he looked at was whether Moore held on to the ball when he hit the ground out of bounds. He did, therefore, the ruling of touchdown was upheld.
4. Atlanta at Seattle
THE SITUATION: Atlanta had the ball, fourth and 1 at the Seattle 18-yard line.
THE PLAY: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan ran for 1 yard and a first down. Seattle challenged the spot on the first-down ruling.
MY TAKE: This was not a good challenge by Seattle coach Pete Carroll. There was no chance of this being overturned.
When it comes to progress spots in relation to a first down, it is highly unlikely that the ball will be moved unless there is a clear shot of the runner with a body part on the ground and a yard line that shows where the ball is right at that point.
Clearly that was not the case. Although it seemed like Ryan might have been short, there was nothing to prove that he was.
5. Denver at Oakland
THE SITUATION: Denver had the ball, second and 11 at the Oakland 33 with just under eight minutes left in the first quarter. The score was tied at 7.
THE PLAY: Denver quarterback Tim Tebow hit Brandon Lloyd in the back of the end zone on a pass that was originally called incomplete on the field.
Denver challenged the ruling and the play was reversed, giving the Broncos a touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
MY TAKE: Good job by referee Scott Green to go through the entire process while reviewing this play.
Lloyd came down on his back in bounds and while his right hand came off the ball, his left hand stayed on the ball and maintained control.
In real time, I felt the pass was incomplete, but when you have the opportunity to slow the video down and review it, you could see that Lloyd made an incredible catch. The nice part about replay is that Lloyd gets his due and is credited with a touchdown.