Kenny Stills' sideline catch had no 'indisputable visual evidence'

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

The juggling catch by New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills on Monday night was ruled complete because replays could not conclusively overturn the play, Dean Blandino said Tuesday.

During his weekly "Official Review" segment aired on NFL Total Access, the vice president of officiating said the call on the field made by the officials had to stand despite the fact it appeared that Baltimore Ravens defensive back Danny Gorrer might have gained possession.

"Both have their hands on the football," Blandino said. "As they go to the ground, the ball is going to be loose. The key is: when does Stills get control of the ball with his hands in relation to where his body is on the sideline?

"Remember, the ruling on the field was complete, so we have to see indisputable visual evidence that it's incomplete in order to overturn."

Blandino said part of the issue was not just possession by Stills but if he came down inbounds.

"When he comes down, I can see hands, I can't see the ball," he said. "It's just not definitive, so the ruling on the field stood."

Another disputed play last weekend was a punt return by Tavon Austin of the St. Louis Rams against the San Diego Chargers. Offsetting penalties were called on the play. Rather than replay the down, the Rams received the ball at the point of the penalty.

Why wasn't a re-kick called on the play?

"This is an unusual enforcement," Blandino said. "It's called a double foul after a change of possession. That's why we don't offset and replay the down is to eliminate a re-kick.

"When you watch the play, the foul is actually going to be on (St. Louis' Marshall McFadden) during the kick. Once the ball crosses the line of scrimmage and St. Louis maintains possession, that's considered post-possession. Now during the return, San Diego punter (Mike Scifres) is going to commit a foul for a low block. During a change of possession or any kick play, you can't block below the waist.

"We have fouls by both teams. They're both considered after possession change, so by rule there's no re-kick. The receiving team keeps the ball at the spot of their foul or the end of the run, whichever is further back."

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