The League

Rate The Refs

Bad Bounce, Right Call


If you don't believe bad teams tend to suffer the most from bad breaks, just look at what happened to the Washington Redskins against Carolina on Sunday.

Nursing a five-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Redskins' Antwaan Randle El called for a fair catch on a punt. As he was getting set to catch the ball, Carolina's Quinton Teal blocked Washington's Byron Westbrook into Randle El, the ball bounced off Westbrook's foot, and Carolina recovered at the Washington 12.

A clear case of interference on the kicking team, right? Most every Redskins fan watching thought so as they waited for officials to award the ball to Washington, which they did initially. Not so fast.

After officials conferred, referee Walt Coleman changed the ruling and awarded possession to Carolina, which scored the decisive touchdown two plays later.

"If they are both trying to block, then he can knock him into him," Coleman said. "Because they were both engaged, then that's why there wasn't a foul or anything wrong with that play. If the Washington player is stationary and just standing there and the Carolina player had come down there and knocked him, then it would have been totally different."

Despite how bogus that explanation may sound, officials apparently got it right. In my colleague Rick Maese's story on the play, Randle El said he didn't realize the play was legal, but Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith said his unit practices pushing a blocker into a returner.

Most football fans probably were under the assumption when a blocker is pushed into a returner calling for a fair catch that it's interference on the kicking team. League rules indicate that's only the case if the blocker in question was stationary, but in this case, Westbrook clearly was moving.

So Redskins fans, save your ire at the officials for another week. Despite what you may have thought at first, they didn't contribute to the Redskins' loss after all.

By Gene Wang  |  October 11, 2009; 9:37 PM ET  | Category:  Refs Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Tom Brady's "Superstar Treatment" | Next: One Game Suspension Enough?


Please email us to report offensive comments.

It seems to me that the purpose of the fair catch is to protect a receiver whose focus is on the ball in the air from being injured by an unforseen hit. Once fair catch has been signalled, that receiver should be protected by rule. I am a redskins fan, and I was irritated by the call on Sunday. All that aside, the way the rule is now lends itself to abuse and injury and I think it should be changed. Good for the officials that they made the right call, but shame on Danny Smith and Carolina for exploiting a gap in the rules that certainly was designed to protect a kicking team from penalties resulting from an accidental hit and was NOT intended to be exploited purposefully. This is one of those things that is cheating, but not really cheating. You get the W, but lose major sportsmanship points.

I think the NFL should stitch that stupid, dangerous, and needlessly complex loophole.

Posted by: kuato | October 12, 2009 7:36 PM

My concern goes back a little deeper than last week. Why has Jim Zorn allowed a qb to continue playing after so many turn overs? A qb that runs past the line of scrimage than passes in the nfl should be on the bench! Than to blame the reciever for not continueing to the pass is unacceptable, the reciever becomes a blocker once the ball crosses the line of scrimage. Why did cooley not get a pass last week?

We can't blame Zorn, Campbell, or Snyder as individuals, but as a team they suck! We need change and my first step would be Campbell. What are they affraid of?

Posted by: pluray | October 12, 2009 10:43 PM

I really wanted to see an endzone view, because it seemed to me that the ball might have glanced off the Carolina blocker before hitting Westbrook, in which case the ball would have been dead with the Redskins taking possession. But apparently there was no endzone view. How many cameras do they have covering games now, and not one in the endzone with a view? Really?

Posted by: BSDetector | October 13, 2009 3:42 PM

Thanx@Kuato, that's what I wanted to say. But with that being said ... maybe the game should'nt have been that close in the first place? c'mon Skins?!?!

Posted by: evpoison | October 13, 2009 4:58 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company