Here’s the NFL’s explanation for why DeAndre Hopkins didn’t get a touchdown


Monday night offered another example of the NFL’s questionable officiating in 2016, with multiple instances of missed and/or botched calls in the Raiders‘ 27-20 win over the Texans. Potentially, the most egregious was a would-be touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins in which the play was blown dead but Hopkins didn’t appear to step out of bounds.

Bill O’Brien wanted to challenge the play, but it was deemed not reviewable, and the play stood as a 24-yard completion, instead of a 60-yard touchdown.

“I considered challenging many plays,” O’Brien said after the game. “Let’s go back to the first quarter. Was Hopkins out of bounds on that play? No.

“So, look, I’m not going to stand up here and get fined; I’m just a third-year coach in the NFL, but I think we really need to look at these things. We’ve got all these cameras and you can’t get that right? I didn’t think Hopkins was out of bounds, but the whistle had blown so I couldn’t challenge that play even though I threw my flag. I thought he was inbounds, so start there and list all of the things that I could have challenged.”

After the game came an explanation from Dean Blandino, NFL vice president of officiating, who took to Twitter with the league’s reason why Hopkins was ruled down.

“OK let’s talk about the play from earlier in the game where officials ruled Hopkins stepped out of bounds on the sidelines,” Blandino says over video of the play. “It’s going to be right foot at the 36-yard line right there.”

hopkins-1.png
via Twitter

“You can’t see from this angle, we have coaches in the way, but you’re going to see the officials killing the blow, blowing their whistle, waving, you’re going to see the field judge killing the play.

“This is not reviewable. We ruled the player out of bounds, killing it, we’re blowing whistles. You can’t give him advance in replay — the theory is players are stopping because of the dead-ball ruling and it would be impossible to tell where the receiver would have ended up had we not killed the play.”

“Now let’s see if he was out of bounds. You’re going to get two looks at it. Right foot — right there at the 36-yard line.”

hopkins-2.png
via Twitter

“Look at the heel, the heel appears to be in the white. It’s not right down the line, so it’s not definitive, but we certainly can’t say that he’s obviously in bounds from this angle. The heel looks like it’s down, it looks like it could be touching the white, it’s not definitive either way.

“You’re going to see another look at it. Watch the angle of the foot.”

hopkins-3.png
via Twitter

“We know the heel is down — it certainly appears the foot is out of bounds on this angle. Again, not definitive, you need a look down the line to be 100 percent sure, but there’s no way we can say this foot is clearly inbounds.

“So the ruling on the field is he that he was out, it’s not reviewable, and that’s further clarification on the play.”

There are some issues at play here. It’s not obvious that his foot is out of bounds. It could go either way. The only way to tell, as Blandino pointed out, is by using sideline cameras. Complaining about a lack of sideline cameras when the NFL makes more than $10 billion per year is a frustrating move. Buy some sideline cameras and install them at every stadium.

It’s also problematic that replay, as Blandino as previously explained things, isn’t used to get things right, only to “fix obvious mistakes.”

This doesn’t appear to be the case, because there were seemingly obvious instances where officials made questionable calls, including a late spot of the ball multiple times that went against the Texans.

The league could instruct officials not to blow plays dead that are close, thereby allowing replay to clean up any obvious mistakes. You don’t want video officiating the game, but you do want to get the calls on the field correct. The current system simply doesn’t do a very good job of that.

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