Tag:Bill Leavy
Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:43 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 11:19 pm
 

Coughlin upset by 2 calls vs. GB, NFL explains

Tom Coughlin is oh-fer on his last eight challenges. (NFL.com)

By Ryan Wilson

NFL fans are familiar with Bill Leavy. He was the official in Super Bowl XL, often referred to as "that game where the Steelers were gifted the Lombardi Trophy over the Seahawks." After two controversial calls in Sunday's Giants-Packers game, Leavy is back, again for the wrong reasons.

First, there was what appeared to be a Greg Jennings fumble in which he was initially ruled down by contact. The Giants challenged, replays showed that Jennings had in fact fumbled, and all that was left was for Leavy to emerge from under the hood and announce that it was New York's ball. Except that didn't happen. Instead, inexplicably, he declared that "the ruling on the field stands."

(We went into this in great detail in Monday's Pick-6 Podcast, as well if the NFL should go to full-time officials. Spoiler alert: No. Either way, you can listen below.)


On Monday, the league explained Leavy's decision (via PFT).

“Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 of the NFL Rule Book (page 35) states: ‘An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended: (a) when a runner is contacted by a defensive player and touches the ground with any part of his body other than his hands or feet,’” the league said in a statement emailed to PFT by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. “So by rule, if Jennings’ calf was on the ground prior to the ball coming loose, he is down by contact. Contrary to what was suggested during the game, there is no need for the runner’s knee to be on the ground.”

Uh-huh. We suppose you could look at this replay and say that maybe Jennings' shin (really, the shin?) was down before the ball came out. But you could also argue that Jennings lost possession before his shin contacted the turf.


Jennings sure looked like he fumbled.

In general, we don't like to whinge about the officiating because by the end of the season, it usually evens out for everybody. And credit to New York. Despite two atrocious calls (the other was when Osi Umenyiora was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Aaron Rodgers even though no part of his helmet came close to Rodgers' head), they won by 37-20.

A day later, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin remained confused by the two calls. He was asked Monday if there was anything on film that made the Jennings' non-fumble clearer. “There is but I won’t get into it,’’ he said.

And Umenyiora's roughing-the-passer penalty?

“Aggressive football play,’’ Coughlin said via the New York Post. “The quarterback is following through as he releases the ball. The hit is from the side. There’s not helmet involved. It’s from the shoulders to waist. We’ll coach that one forever.’’

Now all that's left if for Leavy to apologize to the Giants and their fans. That generally takes about four years.

Here's what he told the media in August 2010, unprompted:

"It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter [of Super Bowl XL between the Steelers and Seahawsk] and I impacted the game and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights and I think about it constantly. I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd been better. I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn't good enough. When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It's something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it's difficult."

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 8:14 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 9:27 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Best Super Bowl matchup?

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action, figures out the winners and losers and asks the big questions. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Listen to the Pick-Six Podcast Divisional Round recap below and don't forget to subscribe via iTunes.

Ranking the Possible Super Bowl Matchups

Although there were some fairly drama-free games in the NFL playoffs thus far, there's no question we've been treated to some serious story-lining; Alex Smith's redemption alone was worth the price of admission. And with only three games remaining in the NFL season, we've narrowed the group of teams down a group of four elite squads that should produce an action-packed storyline.

But how do the matchups stack up in terms of watchability, entertainment value and general awesomeness? Here's my ranking:

1. Patriots vs. Giants
It's impossible to underscore how dramatic this matchup would be: after the Giants lost to the undefeated Packers 38-35, there was chatter of how this season looked eerily familiar to 2007 ... when the Giants upended the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII in a game that was one of the most memorable Super Bowls in NFL history.

That was the last time the Patriots made the Super Bowl and since then, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have come under fire for not winning playoff games. The Pats won't be worried about their perfect season anymore, of course, but the Giants look very similar to the team that won the Super Bowl in 2007, thanks to a dominant pass rush and Eli Manning truly elevating his game.

The storyline, which would consist primarily of the word "revenge," might get a bit stale, but there would be an incredible amount of players with stories from that year and an ax to grind.

If you root for drama, star power and some trash talk, this is the matchup you want to see.

2. Ravens vs. Giants
The last time these teams faced off in the Super Bowl, Ray Lewis was Super Bowl MVP and the Baltimore defense had their way with Kerry Collins, picking him off four times en route to a 34-7 blowout.

Also: Tiki Barber was relevant, if that tells you anything about how long ago that was.

From a football perspective, this could be a high-scoring game that will go either way; a good game from Joe Flacco would probably result in a Ravens win, but no one will bank on that, so the Giants will be favored (maybe 4.5 points?).

Both teams are explosive enough on offense, but even more explosive on defense. We'd see points, but we'd also see plenty of smashmouth football. If someone got out to a big lead, the game wouldn't necessarily be over -- seeing Eli lead a comeback against the vaunted Ravens defense would be entertaining as all get-out.

And the chatter leading up to the game would be simply amazing. Jason Pierre-Paul, Antrel Rolle, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis? If you're a media member, you should be drooling at the quotability factor for this one.

3. Patriots vs. 49ers
The fact that these two teams play such contrasting styles could set the Super Bowl up for an interesting and perplexing matchup, but it's hard to believe that the Pats would be favored by less than a touchdown in this scenario.

Maybe San Francisco could pull off the upset: we've already seen that they can keep Drew Brees and the Saints down if given two weeks to prepare. And they'll absolutely be given the "no one believes in us" card if such a matchup takes place.

Here's the problem though: as good as Alex Smith looked on Saturday late, he didn't look like Brady did later that night. The 49ers are one of the few teams in the NFL that can, theoretically, match up in their base formation against the Pats tight ends.

But if Angry Brady show up again (and, we have to assume he showed up against the Ravens if they're here), this game could look like the last time the 49ers made the Super Bowl, only in reverse.

4. Ravens vs. 49ers
In terms of pure on-field entertainment value, this is a nightmare situation. Both the 49ers and Ravens succeed by running the ball and playing defense so it makes zero sense for this matchup to actually happen, given the importance of quarterback play in the NFL and the high-powered offenses we've seen so far in 2012.

Yes, their coaches are freaking brothers and there's no question that Harbaugh Bowl 2.0 -- the pair dueled it out on Thanksgiving night -- would provide an incredible amount of entertainment in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

But how quickly would the "They're Related!" storyline get old? It might take a day, maybe two tops. Trust me, with that much free time you'll be sick of it before media day even happens, and don't even get me started on the players.

There's some star power here, but it's primarily on the defensive end with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith (if anyone knows who he is anyway) and the like.

Joe Flacco versus Alex Smith? Yuck. We'd be treated to a defensive battle along the likes of that 16-6 Ravens victory on Turkey Day. Or the BCS Championship Game.

On the bright side, at least the teams would've gotten there through a playoff. (Read: legitimately.)

Winners

Alex Smith: Sports are funny, because moments -- not careers -- ultimately tend to define certain players. Smith is one of those players and a pair of moments on Saturday -- his 28-yard touchdown run and then "The Snatch" in the end zone -- redefined his career. He could blossom into one of the next great NFL quarterbacks or he could sign a big contract and become a bust again. It won't matter, because Saturday's game will always remain a turning point of some point. Smith likely won't ever justify his draft slot or being taken over Aaron Rodgers, but Saturday was an unbelievable redemption story.

Eli Manning
: Manning was, in my brain, approximately 145 for 146 on third down on Sunday night against the Packers. Every time Green Bay got him in a bad spot, the dude sat back in the pocket, waited until things opened up, and drilled a beautiful pass to a wide-open receiver. He's had an amazing season that could've been even better, and he's finally getting the credit he deserves.

Marques Colston
: Colston's set to be an unrestricted free agent, and the lasting memory he provided potential suitors was an outstanding effort, as he caught nine balls for 136 yards and a toe-tapping touchdown that was basically the only time a Saints player got deep in the first half on Saturday. If the Saints don't reach a long-term deal with Drew Brees, they'll have to franchise him, and that means Colston can get loose on the market and make a pile of money.

Bill Belichick: All season long the chatter was that Belichick's defense would hinder the Patriots from winning a Super Bowl. Maybe that's true -- we'll find out next Sunday against Baltimore. But the the Broncos were supposed to have a physical running game right? And the blew up the Steelers defense? Right? Belichick showed why he's a defensive genius and one of the all-time great coaches in that blowout.

Hakeem Nicks: Thanks to Victor Cruz' breakout season in 2011, Nicks kind of got loss in the shuffle. He shouldn't have: his performance against Green Bay was stunning, and broke off a 66-yard, gazelle-like touchdown run and then broke the Packers spirit with a Hail-Mary catch at the end of the half. His final line? Seven catches, 165 yards and two touchdowns.

Jenkins got abused by Davis all day long. (Getty Images)

Losers

Malcolm Jenkins: You might want to pick on Roman Harper for getting worked over by Vernon Davis in the end zone on the final touchdown, but Jenkins is the reason the Niners even had a shot. First there's the teardrop Alex Smith dropped over Jenkins into Davis' outstretched arms before his now famous touchdown run. Then there's Jenkins coverage on Davis across the middle when he picked up 47 yards on the 49ers final drive. Burnt toast anyone? (Screenshots via Dave Cariello of Canal Street Chronicles.)

Jacoby Jones
:
Dude tried to field a punt off a hop inside his own 20 on the Texans second possession of the game, didn't field it cleanly, got rocked, fumbled the ball and gave the Ravens a free touchdown. In case you missed it, the Ravens won by seven points.

Cam Cameron
: With the Texans holding two timeouts, 3:04 left in the game and the Ravens up four and in the Texans red zone, Cameron called for two pass plays. Both passes were incomplete and the Ravens kicked a field goal with 2:56 left. They burned eight seconds and didn't make the Texans use a timeout. Then on third and a half-inch with 1:38 remaining, Cameron called for a Vonta Leach run, instead of having his fullback block for Ray Rice. There never should've been enough time for a second possession for Houston in the first place.

NFL Officials: For two consecutive weekends, the NFL officiating has been, quite simply, terrible. The guys in stripes have a really difficult job, made even more difficult in today's world where jerks take pictures of their televisions and post them to Twitter. But during the NFL playoffs, the quality of work done by the zebras has really highlighted some of the flaws in the way in-game rules are applied in football. Something's gotta change.

Tim Tebow: We'd also accept John Elway or John Fox here, because the offseason's going to be miserable for all three of them despite winning a division title and a playoff game. Tebow's poor showing against the Patriots means everyone's got to wonder if he can be a "real" quarterback for the Broncos and as such, every time Fox, Elway or Tebow get anywhere near a microphone, they'll be asked about Tebow's status. It will unquestionably be annoying by the time next season starts.

State Farm: You guys really going to keep running the "Discount Double Check" commercials for the next month? Because that's going to be more awkward than Pepsi Max running Rex Ryan halftime speeches after the Jets miss the playoffs. (Please don't raise my insurance rates though.)

The Big Questions

 
Plenty of questions still remain about Flacco. (AP)

1. Did Joe Flacco answer his critics on Sunday?
Nope. The playcalling was bad and the Texans have a really good defense, but Flacco looked pretty awful all things considered. His two touchdown passes were nice, but were it not for some sick catches from his receivers, Flacco's numbers (14 of 27 for 176 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions) would've been much worse. It's not all his fault this game was so close, but an elite performance would've resulted in a blowout.

2. Should Alex Smith have fallen down before scoring late Saturday?
Yes. This debate livened up our Twitter followers on Saturday evening, but the reality is, with the 49ers down 24-23 and Smith should've fallen to the ground, let the Niners melt the clock, force the Saints to use their timeouts, and the kick a field goal with, in the best-case scenario, no time remaining. Instead, Drew Brees got the ball back with 1:51 remaining and had time to score. Of course, he also scored too quickly, giving Smith time to cement his comeback legacy in San Francisco, but that's beside the point. Smith going down could have iced the game away, we just wouldn't have gotten all that drama.

3. Is it time for Gregg Williams to get out of town?
Probably. Williams shouldn't be the scapegoat for New Orleans lack of success, because he called a heck of a game on Saturday against the 49ers. With the Saints offense struggling, Williams defense kept the Saints in the game by limiting the 49ers points off turnovers. But because Smith drove the Niners to two scores in the last 150 seconds, you can bet that Williams will get a lot of the blame. He's got an easy out by joining Jeff Fisher with the Rams and he should probably jump on that.

4. Do we need full-time referees?
NO. Wilson and I batted this idea around some on chat (and talked about it on the podcast), but why would giving referees more money and job security equate to an incentive for them to be right more often? It doesn't. Giving them more time to learn the rules and properly apply them? Yeah, that would be great. It would also be great if the NFL made applying the rules in a fashion that doesn't screw up the game more practical, but that's another story for another day.

5. Is being a wild-card in the playoffs better?
Maybe? I dunno. I do know this: you look at the Packers and you look at the Giants. One team basically got three weeks off and cooled down from an unholy hot streak. The other team squeaked into the playoffs and got hot, playing their best football at the right time. The latter team, the Giants, are still alive.

6. Is Tom Coughlin still on the hot seat?

LOL. Also, LOL at Giants fans who wanted Coughlin fired and/or put on the hot seat when the Giants were losing to the Saints-49ers-Packers in succession, with a surprising win against the Patriots mixed in. Give the dude an extension already, he deserves it.

7. Will you please provide a picture of Andy Reid in the Punt/Pass/Kick contest?
Thought you'd never ask. Every single time the contest winners are shown on television, I can't help but think of this amazing photo:



8. How good can the 49ers offense be?

Very good. I think -- the progression of Vernon Davis and Alex Smith over the course of the season leads me to believe Harbaugh would be smart to bring his signal caller back, keep some continuity and let the pieces on the offense grow into the system even more, like they did throughout the year. It's quite possible they could end up being potent.

GIF O' THE WEEK

Decent catch by Arian Foster here:

Worth 1,000 Words


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Posted on: January 15, 2012 5:58 pm
 

Packers get lucky on Greg Jennings fumble review

Maybe Jenning's, uh, foot was on the ground? (Mocksession.com)
By Will Brinson

The Packers caught a tremendous break in the first half of Sunday's NFC Divisional Round matchup against the Giants, as Greg Jennings clearly fumbled a ball and neither an on-field ruling nor replay could "confirm" that he did so. The Packers kept the ball and scored a touchdown five plays later to tie the game at 10-10.

On first and 10 from the Giants 38-yard line, Aaron Rodgers hit Jennings on a six-yard pass. Jennings fumbled the ball while being tackled and the Giants recovered.

The play was initially ruled a fumble but the officiating crew overturned that call on the field and said that Jennings was down. Tom Coughlin was, for all intents and purposes, forced to challenge the play. He did so and the visual evidence indicated rather clearly (see: above) that the ball was loose before Jennings hit the ground.

However, Bill Leavy announced to the crowd that the ruling on the field would stand. The Packers kept the ball and scored a touchdown.

It was a terrible break for the Giants, an unbelievable stroke of luck for the Packers, and a pretty good reason for wondering if there needs to be another safeguard in the review process.

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Posted on: November 3, 2010 3:15 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2010 3:16 pm
 

Nickey fined $2.5K for contact with official

Posted by Will Brinson

On Sunday, Titans special teams, um, specialist Donnie Nickey was in a bit of a tussle with Chargers lineman Scott Mruczkowski, and came up from the ground swinging, only to accidentally make contact with referee Bill Leavy.

As a result of that contact, Nickey has been fined $2,500 by the NFL, per Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean.

That's significantly smaller than the fine that the NFL hit Ravens coach John Harbaugh with this season when he made contact with an official, but Nickey also unintentionally made his contact and ejected from the game, which the Titans eventually lost.

Ray Anderson, the NFL's VP of Football Operations, was actually in attendance at the game, and Nickey thinks that aided his cause, as Anderson saw the accidental nature of the incident in person.

"I think he saw exactly what happened and took that into account," Nickey said.

Nickey also said he was disappointed, but the NFL doesn't play games with contact between officials and players/coaches -- the low fine indicates the "no tolerance" level of their approach to the matter, even if the contact is accidental.

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Posted on: August 7, 2010 3:33 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2010 3:40 pm
 

Ref tells Seahawks he messed up in Super Bowl

Referee Bill Leavy said he blew two calls in Super Bowl XL that could have impacted the game. Posted by Josh Katzowitz

There’s been something on referee Bill Leavy’s mind the past four years. On Friday, he finally apologized for it.

Leavy admitted to blowing two calls in Super XL that he said might have affected the outcome of Pittsburgh’s 21-10 championship victory against Seattle.

From the Seattle Times :

Speaking to Seattle-area reporters Friday about NFL rules changes this season, Leavy said he's still bothered by his gaffes.

"It left me with a lot of sleepless nights, and I think about it constantly," he said. "I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd been better. I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn't good enough.

"When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It's something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl, it's difficult."


As MLB umpire Jim Joyce discovered after ruining Armando Gallaraga’s perfect game earlier this year, apologizing is the key to absolution. Perhaps Leavy is hoping for some of that forgiveness or, at least, to lessen the weight on his conscience.

"It was a tough thing for me," Leavy said. "I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter, and I impacted the game, and as an official you never want to do that.”

Responded QB Matt Hasselbeck in another Seattle Times story: "I think all of the officials we have in the NFL are stand-up guys and Leavy is no different ... He's a great guy. He's actually a really, really good official. It's just one of those things where like I said sometimes you don't have your best days as a player and it's the same thing as a coach."

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