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League says formation on Tebow-to-Thomas play was valid

Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Getty Images

I’ve been holding this one for a day or two, but I’ve decided that it’s time to throw it out there.  It’s raw meat for Tebowmaniacs and Anti-Broncites alike — the notion that the final play of Sunday’s stirring overtime win over the Steelers could have been called back due to a penalty.

Via various media outlets, including an item from the Bay Area News Group that ended up on the Denver Post website, it appears that the Broncos had only six players on the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball.

Per NFL.com (via the Denver Post), the league says the formation was legal.   “There is nothing to this,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told NFL.com. “This is a legal formation.  This should not have been flagged.”

By rule, seven players must be on the line of scrimmage at the start of every play.  On the play in question, the quarterback, a running back, and two wide receivers are clearly behind the line.  There’s a tight end at the top of the screen — Dante Rosario — who isn’t flush with the rest of the linemen.

The video of the play shows that receiver Eddie Royal came in motion before the snap, with the play starting just as Royal made it near the tight end on the right side of the field.

Even if a violation occurred, the Broncos realized no advantage, but for the reality that Demaryius Thomas (if he was supposed to be on the line of scrimmage) was in better position to avoid a jam from cornerback Ike Taylor, because Thomas could avoid starting the play with Taylor in his face.

Regardless, it looked close.  More importantly, it wasn’t called.  Most importantly, the league says it wasn’t even a violation.

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56 Responses to “League says formation on Tebow-to-Thomas play was valid”
  1. broncotis3000 says: Jan 11, 2012 2:53 PM

    Im still waiting for the league to explain why Tebow is allowed to be facemasked once a week without any penalties being called…

  2. adantsa says: Jan 11, 2012 2:55 PM

    It sounds to me like if this had gone the other way, the NFL would have still said it was in fact illegal. The NFL not providing anything conclusive about its own rules? Nothing new.

  3. jackbassett says: Jan 11, 2012 2:58 PM

    Pittsburgh can’t really complain, given the controversy over the lateral miscall earlier in the game as well as one of the most controversial calls of all time: Immaculate Reception. Google it and read the wiki for details.

  4. yamchargers says: Jan 11, 2012 2:59 PM

    I pray it wasnt

  5. test2402 says: Jan 11, 2012 2:59 PM

    All Tim Tebow plays are valid.

  6. hoosiermizuno says: Jan 11, 2012 3:01 PM

    First time the officials didn’t actually help the Steelers win a playoff game. Usually the officials think their yellow flag is a terrible towel only to be used on whoever is playing against Pittsburgh.

    About time Steeler fans get the other side of things. I didn’t want Pittsburgh coming to Indy anyways.

  7. seahawksfan25 says: Jan 11, 2012 3:02 PM

    The game is over. Can’t change nothing now anyway.

  8. bcgreg says: Jan 11, 2012 3:02 PM

    If it was the Pats…well, use your imagination.

  9. steelerfanjo says: Jan 11, 2012 3:02 PM

    Who cares? As a Steeler fan, we gave the game away because of Lebeau and Arians are worthless coordinators.

  10. yevrag3535 says: Jan 11, 2012 3:06 PM

    The game is over and done with, get over it. It is only a game. The Steelers lost – they are home for the year. The sun will come up tomorow. Good luck to Denver. Move on already….

  11. marcuswelby70 says: Jan 11, 2012 3:08 PM

    Splitting hairs here aren’t we.
    If you want to get technical look at most offensive tackles in obvious passing situations…they line up pretty far off the line of scrimmage.

  12. buckfigben says: Jan 11, 2012 3:14 PM

    Pittsburgh has gotten more calls than any other team in recent memory. That’s what they’re known for, look at the superbowls. And seriously, if the key to beating Dick Lebeau and his “hall of fame” defense is to line up 6 inches away from the rest of the line, then Pittsburgh has bigger worries.

  13. njhitman says: Jan 11, 2012 3:25 PM

    Im still waiting for the league to explain why Brown was called for offensive pass interference when it was clearly defensive pass interference . Well I guess having a defensive of player hanging on your back is a no no for an offensive player so they call it on the offence

  14. eleventyeight says: Jan 11, 2012 3:37 PM

    As a Steelers fan i’m OK with it so long as it wasn’t some intentional ploy by the Broncos to force our defenders out of position, which it obviously wasn’t.

    This Steelers fan wanted his team to win but i don’t think anybody in the NFL was prepared for Time Tebow to throw for 3:16 yards….except maybe…well, you know…

  15. doncherry81 says: Jan 11, 2012 3:38 PM

    Ike Taylor is garbage, someone finally figured that out. I wouldn’t have guessed it would have been Tim Tebow who figured it out.

  16. judsonjr says: Jan 11, 2012 3:38 PM

    I don’t really care who won the game, but if it’s legal then why doesn’t the league say why it’s legal instead of giving a generic answer.

    As a viewer week-in and week out I see the TE look out to the WR in this formation and tell him to move up in this same scenario.

  17. db105 says: Jan 11, 2012 3:47 PM

    Why would anyone expect the NFL to acknowledge a significant error if there were one?

  18. Kaz says: Jan 11, 2012 3:47 PM

    6 men on the line was called against the Bengals in their playoff game. But hey, you don’t question the man up stairs.

  19. purpleisreallypinkyouknow says: Jan 11, 2012 4:12 PM

    I agree that this formation didn’t allow for much of an advantage on Denver’s side….however, as a football official myself for 21 years, Pereira’s reply/excuse for this is way off base.

    Granted it wasn’t called and it had little bearing on anything, but to say that this was a legal formation and that Rosario is on his line of scrimmage is an outright lie and makes a mockery of anyone who knows the rules of the game. If Rosario stayed in a blocking position and pass-blocked on the play, then there was an advantage, even if minimal.

    Apparently Mike, Roger, and everyone at the NFL Country Club think the fan base is really that ignorant. Pereira seems more and more like he’s trying to imitate Obi Wan Kenobi and get us with the “Jedi mind trick” every weekend with something. It’s not working, Mike.

  20. FinFan68 says: Jan 11, 2012 4:20 PM

    Can you imagine the backlash if they had thrown a flag? It’s not like there aren’t enough people already who think the steelers pay off the occasional official.

  21. orcheon says: Jan 11, 2012 4:25 PM

    db105 says: Jan 11, 2012 3:47 PM

    Why would anyone expect the NFL to acknowledge a significant error if there were one?
    ——————————————-
    They just admitted they made two mistakes on the Brees, one resulting in a change of possession, from a game last weekend.

    They have a pretty good history of acknowledging mistakes. As for this call, it is a call that is rarely made, and you don’t normally see it unless it is very blatant.

  22. bspn2 says: Jan 11, 2012 4:34 PM

    The refs missed yet another call. Big surprise, huh?

    When are the refs going to start being fined (fired?) for blatantly wrong calls?

  23. contract says: Jan 11, 2012 4:35 PM

    We got beat. Period.

  24. wikidpissah says: Jan 11, 2012 4:40 PM

    steelerfanjo says: Jan 11, 2012 3:02 PM

    Who cares? As a Steeler fan, we gave the game away because of Lebeau and Arians are worthless coordinators.
    _____________________________

    You’re a Steeler fan? No. What you are is a fool.

    Three Super Bowl appearances with 2 wins in the past few years. A boatload of injuries and they still battled.

    They’ve done pretty well with Arians, and LeBeau is a Hall Of fame level coordinator, in the top 5 all time.

    I spend a lot of time rooting against the Steelers, but they have one hell of an organization.

    You need to change your name if you’re going to continue commenting on this site.

  25. slowclyde86 says: Jan 11, 2012 4:41 PM

    For those of you who do so, could you please stop saying stupid things about how the officials pick on your favorite team (Raiders fans, mostly) or in favor of a team you don’t like (Pats, Steelers seem to generate most of these types of comments)? You sound foolish.

    Do you really think the officials go out of their way to favor or punish a particular team? Bad calls happen. Yes, sometimes they may break more one way than the other. Sucks when it happens, but that’s life. They make mistakes.

    It does seem that the officiating has been particularly brutal this year, but to continually insinuate favoritism just gets old.

  26. halftermguv says: Jan 11, 2012 4:42 PM

    Should have been called BUT there are at least a dozen missed calls in most games. It wouldn’t have mattered if the Steelers won, with the amount of injuries they’d have little chance of beating NE anyways. Time to rest up and get ‘em next year.

    @hoosiermizuno Yeah Steelers fans are losing out by missing the vibrant entertainment of Indianapolis. When you think of partying you think of Indy. I know I’ll miss wandering through the John Deere dealerships and the Hush Puppy outlet that’s open 24/7.

  27. wtfru2 says: Jan 11, 2012 4:43 PM

    Just like the fans are the 12th man, Jesus was the 7th man on that line, hence no penalty. Just ask the NFL. Amen…..

  28. steelbydesign says: Jan 11, 2012 4:43 PM

    As a diehard Steelers fan I say…. who the F cares. Let it go.

    Whether it was legal or not, refs occasionally miss a call, and this one is extremely minor compared to most missed calls.

  29. stairwayto7 says: Jan 11, 2012 4:56 PM

    If this were the Steelers, every loser would be complaining! Pats 48 Tebows 3!

  30. theotherhines says: Jan 11, 2012 5:09 PM

    @Jackbasket-Way to recommend Wiki as your reference as nobody has ever gone to a page there not noticed the edit buttons on the page – anybody can write whatever they want on there.

    It was a good no call since it didn’t have an impact on the game – just don’t tell those idiots that hit me with their smaller orange towels on Sunday after the game. On the other hand, rules are rules and the formation was clearly illegal. Fortunately the other questionable call was within the guidelines of the replay rules to NOT be overturned. Guess you Donkey fans will just have to be happy with a meaningless playoff win. Hit us up when you get in the neighborhood of 6 rings………..

  31. 4kebart says: Jan 11, 2012 5:43 PM

    That is what you get with part-time officials. Their minds weren’t in the game they were elsewhere.

  32. dontrunfromme says: Jan 11, 2012 5:52 PM

    The nfl is a business. The refs made a business decision

  33. Deb says: Jan 11, 2012 5:57 PM

    No wonder everyone thinks Steelers fans are obnoxious. When I tried to post that I don’t care about nit-picky penalties because Denver outplayed and outcoached us and earned the win, my post was removed. I guess if I’d whined like a Seahawks fan, it would have been pushed to the top of the page.

  34. Deb says: Jan 11, 2012 5:58 PM

    I can understand moderating for bad language and even comments that are off-topic. But when you remove comments just because … well, real men aren’t afraid of female football fans and they aren’t afraid of people giving their own opinions on football topics.

  35. slickmarine says: Jan 11, 2012 6:05 PM

    @theotherhines says:Jan 11, 2012 5:09 PM

    @Jackbasket-Way to recommend Wiki as your reference as nobody has ever gone to a page there not noticed the edit buttons on the page – anybody can write whatever they want on there.

    It was a good no call since it didn’t have an impact on the game – just don’t tell those idiots that hit me with their smaller orange towels on Sunday after the game. On the other hand, rules are rules and the formation was clearly illegal. Fortunately the other questionable call was within the guidelines of the replay rules to NOT be overturned. Guess you Donkey fans will just have to be happy with a meaningless playoff win. Hit us up when you get in the neighborhood of 6 rings………..
    ____

    Yeah, there’s an edit button and most SAVVY users know that its “user published”. Having said that, it is used as a reliable reference by millions of academics and businessmen around the world. Legit? Absolutely…

    And your typically Steeler Fan comment about it being a meaningless playoff game would probably be different if the Steelers had won.

    You sound a little bitter… must be those sour grapes!

  36. Chris Henry's Wild Ride says: Jan 11, 2012 6:05 PM

    Do Steelers fans EVER stop crying?

  37. lawyermalloy says: Jan 11, 2012 6:10 PM

    Thank You for reporting on a “non- call” for a “non- violation”!

  38. descendency says: Jan 11, 2012 6:19 PM

    Not making an excuse for the Steelers, but whether a man is on or off the LOS makes a huge difference in coverage.

    As a boundary corner, you are responsible for a different coverage if the man is on the line (IE not on the side of a TE/Slot WR) than it is if your man is off the LOS (WR/TE on that side).

    It’s over and I’m looking forward to the Denver vs NE game.

  39. Deb says: Jan 11, 2012 6:20 PM

    @theotherhines …

    Hey, Steeler fan to Steeler fan … no playoff win is meaningless. Please don’t do that. Respect the opponent.

  40. randomguy9999 says: Jan 11, 2012 6:20 PM

    Tebow will have to outshoot Brady this week to win, and he doesn’t have the skill to do that…. not even close

  41. waitingguilty says: Jan 11, 2012 6:21 PM

    So we can’t make fun of your articles now? WEAK sauce on the moderating guys. Very weak.

  42. judsonjr says: Jan 11, 2012 6:22 PM

    The NFL will readily admit mistakes in cases where it does not have an impact on who won the game. If a late call does impact the game, it seems like they strain to come up with some vague interpretation of why it was correct.

    For this particular call, I’m a Packer fan, but know that the Bears got a key TD called back on a very similar play versus KC. It was similar to this as there was a TE lined up ~2 yards off the LOS to pass block. Marion Barber split wide about 2 yards behind the LOS and caught a TD because KC failed to have anyone cover him.

    I believe the Bears play was correctly flagged, but if the Denver formation is good I don’t see why the Bears were flagged. The Bears got no advantage from it, and the way Barber lined up he probably gave the defender a bit more time to recover.

  43. goawayeverybody says: Jan 11, 2012 6:26 PM

    Was the backwards pass/fumble valid too? Why is it that Detroit was allowed to recover the Saints’ fumble even after the whistle had blown, but the Broncos were not allowed to do the same thing?

    The officiating is worse in the NFL than in any other sport.

  44. TheWizard says: Jan 11, 2012 6:33 PM

    Guess you Donkey fans will just have to be happy with a meaningless playoff win. Hit us up when you get in the neighborhood of 6 rings

    I see you’re dealing with it well.

  45. stixzidinia says: Jan 11, 2012 6:35 PM

    The league has NEVER acknowledged a mistake that affected that directly affected the outcome of a game. So yeah, of course they are going to say it was legit……even though they didn’t. You’ll notice Aiello didn’t say there were, in fact, 7 men on the line. If there weren’t 7 men on the LOS then it was an illegal formation. Period.

    That wasn’t the reason the Steelers lost, though. With the safeties that far up they’d have been burned regardless.

  46. TheWizard says: Jan 11, 2012 6:36 PM

    But when you remove comments just because

    Happens to me all the time, Deb.

    I used to think it was due to being the site’s token conservative, but there’s really no rhyme nor reason to it.

  47. 69finfan says: Jan 11, 2012 7:01 PM

    Excuse makers. Just say that the lawn mower was broke. That excuse will work as good as any other or any that has been offered.

  48. charmcityravens says: Jan 11, 2012 7:15 PM

    Did I really just read Pitt fan comments that blasted Dick Lebeau and Ike Taylor? Wow.

    Ike Taylor’s unofficial status as a “shut-down corner” may have taken a bit of a beating, but he’s still hands down your best corner.

    And criticizing Lebeau is flat-out blasphemy! I for one, and a Ravens fan, patiently wait for the day that Lebeau retires. It is the Steelers defense that year-in and year-out puts Pitt in contention. OC Bruce Arians, much like Cam Cameron, is terrible. In my humble opinion, the season that Lebeau retires will be the season that Mike Tomlin is exposed as a mediocre coach. Nothing more, nothing less. Lebeau’s Steelers defenses have been covering for half-arsed offensive efforts for years (again much like the Ravens). I maybe a Ravens fan, but Im not an idiot. Lebeau and his defenses are the heart & soul of the Steelers.

  49. nomesayin says: Jan 11, 2012 7:23 PM

    They would have flagged the Raiders for illegal formation. They would have wiped out that TD, & enjoyed doing it.

    Guaranteed

  50. dirtdawg55 says: Jan 11, 2012 8:37 PM

    We got beat. Fair and square. Heck, we didn’t even deserve to make it to overtime.

    As for steelerfanjo, just how much more would LeBeau have to do before he gets your respect? He has had a top five defense five years running. In three of those years he has had the number one defense. His record of delivering high quality defenses, year in year out, regardless of personnel, is unparalleled.

    And let’s not forget, he can only call the plays, he can’t go out there and make them. The Steelers have already owned up to one of Mundy or Troy was supposed to be back there (my guess is Mundy).

    I get you are upset. We all are. But we got beat by the better team that day. They out coached us. They out played us. They won. And my hats are off to them.

    I may “hate” a lot of the teams put there and I more than rag on many of them, but I still have to own up to when they win, especially when it is clear their gameplan was executed better.

    Broncos fans, don’t let a few sour Steelers fans take the moment away. There are plenty of us that see it the way it needs to be seen. Tomlin wouldn’t want it any other way.

  51. thinwhiteduke76 says: Jan 11, 2012 10:01 PM

    Anything with Tebow’s name on it is money, so of course it was legal. Most overrated quarterback ever. One lucky pass and everyone thinks this kid will put up better number’s than Brady, they are nuts.

  52. coachglove says: Jan 11, 2012 10:18 PM

    I like Pereira’s reply “they aren’t technical on this stuff.” hahahahahahahahah what? really? are you kidding me?

    For the record, the last man on the line has to be no further back than his helmet aligned with the hip of the center to be considered “on the line”. Tackles do get called on this regularly. The ref just missed it.

    If the standard is “did it have a material impact” then why call holding 50 yards away from the play? Yes, it should have been called. Would it have changed the outcome? Possibly…we’ll never know. Likely the Broncos would have called a different play had they been flagged. Likely Pitt would not have had 8 in the box and Mr. Head & Shoulders cheating on 1 & 15…then again Pitt’s age was a factor late in the game..and yes they were seriously old on D and playing the game at altitude will take it out of you as someone not acclimated to it (PS – Pitt fans…biggest mistake your team made was not staying in Denver for the entire week before the game as the human body takes about 72 hours to acclimate to a new environment).

  53. Deb says: Jan 11, 2012 10:34 PM

    @The Wizard …

    LOL … I used to think it’s ’cause I’m a girl, but now I just think it depends on what shift you hit. Some of them are mature and intelligent. And some of them are Coco, the Chimp.

  54. bronc24 says: Jan 12, 2012 9:48 AM

    Yes ditto on the Tebow uncalled facemask every game! I wonder how much the refs are going to protect Brady on Saturday?

  55. eleventyeight says: Jan 12, 2012 5:05 PM

    Deb,

    I had a pro-Steelers post congratulating the Broncos on a great win deleted from this thread too.

    It’s like some of their mods want to make Steelers fans all look like morons.

    I don’t think there is any rhyme or reason to the way the mods edit this site, although they do seem to be very PC and anti-Steelers, but it’s possible other teams’ fan feal the same way. It sure would be nice if there was some consistency.

    I want to take part in this community but it isn’t always welcoming.

  56. jimmer2372 says: Jan 12, 2012 7:02 PM

    Chris Henry’s Wild Ride says:
    Jan 11, 2012 6:05 PM
    Do Steelers fans EVER stop crying?

    Have you even read the posts 98% of Steelers fans did not complain.

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