Officiating Review: Andrew Luck's safety was complicated, correct

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's first-quarter safety was a complicated call on the field but a correct one, according to Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating.

Speaking during this week's media Officiating Video that was released Friday, he said the Pittsburgh score was created from an intentional ground call against Luck.

"You're going to see Luck go back from center, stumble, go to the ground and throw the ball to an area where there wasn't an eligible receiver," Blandino said. "He has to get the ball in the direction or the vicinity of an eligible receiver, so it is grounding."

"The next issue is did it occur in the end zone? The sideline camera (shows) he is in the end zone when he throws the football. The spot of the foul is where his body is. ... When you normally have intentional grounding, you're going to look at it as a spot foul if it's more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage because that is where the body is. If the quarterback is in the end zone when he throws the ball, then it's a safety."

He said most other fouls look at the position of the ball in relation to the goal line. However, intentional grounding used the position of the body.

"In order for this not to be a safety, he would have to be in the field of play when he throws the ball," he said.

Blandino said the play was reviewed, but the review did not apply to the penalty flag.

"That's not a reviewable aspect," he said. "Intentional grounding is not reviewable. The spot of the foul is not reviewable.

"What is reviewable is whether Luck was touched by a defensive player so when he backed out, did he trip over a defensive player. Not the case. It appears he tripped over his teammate. But potentially being touched down is important because when he lands he is not in the end zone."

Blandino also examined Monday night's interception by Dallas Cowboys strong safety J.J. Wilcox against the Washington Redskins.

"What we reviewed was whether the defensive player completed the catch," he said. "He's going to the ground. The ball is going to be loose. And as he starts to get up off the ground he's going to get control of it, then he gets hit and loses control of it.

"He has gained possession of the ball by gaining control and then starting to get up off the ground. So it is an interception."

Blandino said the league also received questions about why the play was not called a safety since the ball was possessed, then fumbled out of bounds.

"The key is which team put the ball in the end zone," he said. "Here, the passing team put the ball in the end zone. So there's no requirement for the defensive player who intercepts the pass to get it out to avoid a safety. He could run around in the end zone, fumble, put the ball through the end zone and it would still be a touchback."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.