Dean Blandino: Nate Solder’s AFC Championship TD shouldn’t have counted

AP

The Patriots’ use of offensive linemen as eligible receivers and running back Shane Vereen as an ineligible receiver has created confusion for defenses and officials in the playoffs.

That confusion led to a touchdown that shouldn’t have counted in the AFC Championship game. Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass to tackle Nate Solder during that game on a play that NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino should have been flagged as an illegal substitution.

“There was an issue on that play where on the previous play, [Cameron] Fleming had reported as an eligible player,” Blandino said, via CSNNE.com. “And on the Solder touchdown he went back to playing an ineligible position. That’€™s illegal. That’€™s an illegal substitution. So that’€™s something we discussed with the crew. Bill [Belichick] was made aware of it. So we’€™re going to be looking for that, make sure we follow the proper mechanics so that doesn’€™t happen again.”

Jim Miller of Sirius XM NFL Radio picked up on the missed call last week and pointed it out, but there was no confirmation from the league until Blandino’s press conference on Thursday. Plenty of other people probably would have picked up on it as well had the score not been 45-7 and another issue having to do with the air pressure of footballs not taken hold of the United States for the last two weeks.

89 responses to “Dean Blandino: Nate Solder’s AFC Championship TD shouldn’t have counted

  1. The Patriots should also have been penalized on the drive where they used substitution tricks against the Ravens. Receivers were reporting as ineligible one play and eligible the next with no substitutions between. And in THAT game it would have made a huge difference.

  2. So it seems that New England has been taking advantage of another loophole in which exposes the fact that these part-time officials really are not knowledgeable enough to see when rules are broken. It was still a bush-league play, but the Patriots can only carry it out at the ignorance of the officials.

  3. They’ll do anything to undermine the Patriots, it’s really amazing. Mystery fire alarms while ignoring a NY Times reported study vindicating them about deflation. It’s the plot to Ender’s Game, with the Patriots as the undefeatable Dragon Army. Next up, the Seahawks will get 11 more men on defense, and the Patriots have to start every drive at their 1 yard line.

  4. Somebody throw a ring on the circus of the league office. One issue after another. Starts with the leadership and trickles down. Pure incompetence. This week should be a celebration of football, not a celebration of mistakes, errors and blunders.

  5. I don’t appreciate anything about Dean Blandino when he talks. Within his limited scope he’s as much of a problem to this game as Goodell is.

  6. gabrosin says:
    Jan 30, 2015 10:22 AM
    The Patriots should also have been penalized on the drive where they used substitution tricks against the Ravens. Receivers were reporting as ineligible one play and eligible the next with no substitutions between. And in THAT game it would have made a huge difference.

    No, they said those plays were fine. Sorry your team lost. Get over it.

  7. I suppose all of the problems of the NFL can somehow trace back to Foxboro. This is getting really old. Dump on Patriots week(s) hopefully will end in a SB for the Pats.

  8. You mean the Pats pushed the rules to Cheat—like taping other teams, faking injuries to get time out, deflating balls, sat it was not Sooo. Pats cheat a lot, can not win within the rules—definition of CHEATING!

  9. Let’s also not forget that the only reason the Colts even scored 7 was because the refs gifted them two penalties on that drive. 38-0.

  10. It’s not cheating but it’s taking advantage of the situation (officials are really too dumb to keep up with Bellichick.)

    I’m grudgingly beginning to admire him.

    The most likely conclusion in the deflate issue:
    The balls were underinflated all along. Bill knows they almost always do a “feel” check and not a gauge check. A former ball boy for the Bears said that. So he figured we’ll see if we can get away with it.

    And the league is too stupid to truly investigate. What happened in prior games? There probably are no records of what was checked and what the results are. Bill knows that too.

    As I said, I’m grudgingly coming around – he knows the league is run by a bunch of idiots and he is using that to his players advantage.

  11. At least the NFL is finally onto the Pats shell game. Seems obvious Belicheat held onto these plays until the playoffs because he knew they might be the extra edge needed to win a game. Real classy, bust out deceptive schemes that the refs may or may not recognize initially because no one else in the league stoops so low to use them. Very diligent, Belicheat. They sure came in handy in that Ravens game. Belicheat used them to perfection when his team was desperate to get back in the game. Combine the refs clumsy handling of the Pats blatant attempts to gain unfair advantages, with the use of deflated footballs, and the Pats advance to the AFC title game. Otherwise, they are one and done.

  12. Blandino previously clarified that the plays against the Ravens were OK. So no, Ravens fans, this doesn’t change anything.

    An illegal substitution is a 5 yard penalty… it would be even difficult to take away 7 points from the Patriots when they would have been 1st and 15. But a moot point with a 38 point victory.

  13. A billion dollar sport that can’t even manage to make its rules understandable for the officials who have to enforce them. They’re not sure how substitutions work, how much air should be in the footballs, or even what constitutes a catch. The NFL is killing itself.

  14. Strange the NFL would put rules in to prevent a team from switching players from eligible to ineligible from one play to the next. You think a team running such a scheme would be relying on deception to gain an unfair advantage? Of course, the great Belicheat, master of the rule book, had no idea that this tactic is in fact illegal. It was simply a matter of his team not having much experience running a shell game.

  15. The refs miss calls all the time…. Bogus pass interference, holding, catches that are not catches, etc., etc….. Where’s the outrage??!! Oh yeah, it’s the Patriots so now it’s cheating ??!!
    That game was a total blow out unlike the others I’m talking about that really changed the out comes or those games…. Just because the NFL refs have stunk so bad this year as a whole it’s the Pats fault??!!
    Tell your troubles to somebody else, your tears are diluting my beer!! Lol!!!

  16. Dear Ravens fans,

    I went back and watched the drive in which the Patriots used their 4-linemen package. The “ineligible receiver” plays all had one or more plays in between them. Hoomanawanui and Shane Vereen were regularly subbed in and out. Blandino confirmed that correct procedure was followed in that game.

    In this game, it was most likely an error on the part of Fleming and Solder; I suspect Solder was supposed to report as eligible instead of Fleming, but they mixed up their roles, as Fleming normally reports eligible in the Patriots’ power run package.

    Quit whining.

  17. Thanks Dean but it’s the same officials making the same mistakes year after.we would rather see improvement or different officials instead these after the fact apologies.

  18. God you guys are whiny!

    “Wahhhhhh the referees suck so Belichick should be suspended!!!”

    Ever see a player get tackled and then move the ball forward a yard to get a better spot? Then the ref comes in and moves it back. Well, if the ref doesn’t move it back it’s his fault, he messed up.

    Belichick is smarter than almost every coach in the league and a lot smarter than those in the NFL offices and the part time refs. He didn’t invent these plays. He took them from college and knew the NFL would panic when he did it. And that’s what happened, Harbaugh lost his mind, referees get confused.

    I just find it hilarious, it’s innovation. Stop freaking out and enjoy the change!

  19. Well I’m sure this is news to Belicheat, master of the rule book, He had no idea that switching players from eligible to ineligible from one play to the next might be considered a deceptive tactic that the league actually considered illegal. Nobody knows the rule book better than Belicheat and Lady. And the fun part is how he manages to have multiple players running a shell game at the same time. Pats quickly approach the line of scrimmage, two three guys yell out, I’m eligible, I’m ineligible, refs use same signal to identify two different situations (an ineligibe becoming eligible) and (an eligible becoming ineligible), Belicheat chuckles as defensive players struggle to understand what was said( ‘ineligible’ versus ‘an eligible’) and Lady quickly hikes ball after the ‘declarations’ are made. Yeah, that’s fair, great sportsmanship.

  20. Rindell says:
    Jan 30, 2015 10:42 AM

    The cheatingest cheaters in sports cheating history.
    ____________________________

    uh… the 1919 Black Sox, Lance Armstrong, Ben Johnson in the Olympics, any of the players using PEDs in MLB

  21. Couldn’t line up and beat the Ravens.

    Thus the mickey mouse cheating by the Deflatriots. Nothing new here.

  22. I love the selective comprehension from Ravens fans. “The refs made a mistake in the Colts game, therefor the perfectly legal plays in the Ravens game should never have happened!”

  23. Pats Haters / Pats Apologists… whatever,

    Using this particular example one thing is clear. It makes no sense for people to give Bill a pass here, or worse to applaud him for pulling one over on the refs. (or to say, “refs missed it, too bad”)

    The response used by even the Pats when they were accused of poor sportsmanship and deception (Brady) was to the effect of “its in the rule book, know the rulebook”.

    Well, either those Pats did NOT know the rulebook themselves, or they did and they cheated and got away with it.

    One or the other. Bellicheck is not one step ahead after all. He either is also confused about the rule, or he is a cheater.

  24. Tony Dungy said the Solder touchdown was legal because there was a stoppage of play before the play and that made it legal for Fleming to go from eligible to ineligible. I guess even Super Bowl-winning coaches don’t understand the substitution rules.

  25. It figures all of this drama… I’m wondering if all these Pats homers are gonna still proclaim Tommy Boy to be the best ever… Old Joe Montana never had to have tuck rules, deflate gates, spy gates, fake injuries or back field mugging to win rings… But when Brady wins he wills his team to victory despite the odds, right homers?

  26. gabrosin says:
    Jan 30, 2015 10:22 AM

    The Patriots should also have been penalized on the drive where they used substitution tricks against the Ravens. Receivers were reporting as ineligible one play and eligible the next with no substitutions between. And in THAT game it would have made a huge difference.
    ______________________

    You actually point out why there was no penalty in the game against the Ravens it up nicely…they REPORTED on each play, so it did not matter if there was a substitution between or not. The problem here was that Flemming failed to report as ineligible.

  27. And how many other games have the officials allowed bad touchdowns or taken away good ones?

    Pats aren’t the only team to be awarded or robbed by the officials.

  28. What a complicated set of rules the NFL has become, even the guys in charge don’t even know them. Now, that is indeed sad. Any other sport soccer, bball, rules are less complicated. Are blown calls made in those sports sure, off sides etc , fouls that are not fouls, but those are much less controvesial.

  29. The play against the Ravens is hilarious.
    Hoomanawanui – eligble; no one covering him.
    Vereen – ineligible; no one covering him either.

    I’m not sure what confused the Ravens, but neither player had any defense on them. If they believed Vereen to be eligible, where was the coverage?

  30. The mentality of people is insane here. So you’re saying that they broke a rule, but because the officials didn’t recognize it they didn’t’ actually break any rules? Huh?

    So if you kill somebody, but you’re never caught, are you not a murderer? Seems pretty obvious to me. Just because you didn’t get caught in the act doesn’t mean anything. Belichick is the smartest coach in the game, he knew the rule and decided it wasn’t important to him because he didn’t think he would get caught.

    You can justify it all you want, it’s against the rules. Stay classy Pats. Anything it takes to win, right?

  31. The Patriots should also have been penalized on the drive where they used substitution tricks against the Ravens. Receivers were reporting as ineligible one play and eligible the next with no substitutions between. And in THAT game it would have made a huge difference.
    ===
    No.

    It was used three times. The first time Vereen was IE. He was out the next play.
    The second time Hooman was IE. He sat the next play out.
    The third time Vereen was IE. After that play Harbaugh was flagged. That relieves Vereen of having to sit before returning to eligible. See the applicable rule.

  32. That being said, what a joke the league is. Your refs literally can’t even keep up with the rules in the biggest games of the year. How can the most profitable sport in the US still not have full time officials when you have mistakes like this happening multiple times a game?

  33. They’ll do anything to undermine the Patriots, it’s really amazing. Mystery fire alarms while ignoring a NY Times reported study vindicating them about deflation. It’s the plot to Ender’s Game, with the Patriots as the undefeatable Dragon Army. Next up, the Seahawks will get 11 more men on defense, and the Patriots have to start every drive at their 1 yard line.
    ====
    Blandino points out errors the officials make every single week. They’re human.

    Heck… I’m a Pats fan and I noticed what the officials missed as soon as CBS showed the replays.

  34. That said, what a joke this league is. You’re the most profitable sports league in the US yet you don’t have full time officials? It’s not like this is the first game where bad calls happened, this happens multiple times every single week!

    Does anybody remember the last week that the league didn’t apologize to a team for a bad call? C’mon.

  35. Put an asterisk on Patriots win over Ravens. Would not even be in Super Bowl if part time officials knew what they were doing. Nice job Roger
    ******************************************

  36. Couldn’t line up and beat the Ravens.

    Thus the mickey mouse cheating by the Deflatriots. Nothing new here.
    ===

    You’re confused. It’s the Ravens that couldn’t line up. That’s why so many Pats were uncovered.

  37. Well, either those Pats did NOT know the rulebook themselves, or they did and they cheated and got away with it.
    ===
    Or they just screwed up their execution of it. They obviously know the rulebook because they did it correctly against the Ravens. Like someone else has suggested, perhaps Solder was supposed to report eligible the play before but Fleming did instead.

  38. The mentality of people is insane here. So you’re saying that they broke a rule, but because the officials didn’t recognize it they didn’t’ actually break any rules? Huh?

    So if you kill somebody, but you’re never caught, are you not a murderer? Seems pretty obvious to me. Just because you didn’t get caught in the act doesn’t mean anything. Belichick is the smartest coach in the game, he knew the rule and decided it wasn’t important to him because he didn’t think he would get caught.

    You can justify it all you want, it’s against the rules. Stay classy Pats. Anything it takes to win, right?
    ===

    Do you get this wound up about missed OH calls or bogus DH or PI calls? No? Then calm the heck down. This is in the exact same vein as those. It’s just a missed call by the officials. I don’t think that NE called those two plays in succession with the expectation that the officials would miss the illegal substitution penalty. That would be dumb.

  39. engymass2 says:
    Jan 30, 2015 11:02 AM

    They got away with a BS play against the Ravens also. Raven probably would have won otherwise.
    ——————————————————–
    Which one of the two blown 14 point leads did this occur on??? 😉

  40. Lol … just another penalty ignored by the refs to help the Pats when will this crap end.
    Just let the Pats keep the SB trophy and let the other 31 teams play for the second place … Call it the Kraft trophy.
    .

  41. I just love how the haters are piling on. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    An illegal substitution happens all of the time in the league. It’s no more of a violation than holding, or covering the Tight End, or any other typical infraction. The officials simply missed it. They miss dozens of calls each and every game.

    Unless you want to say that all infractions are cheating, you are going way over the top here when you call the Pats “cheaters”

  42. Is it really wise for Blandino to admit the ref’s mistakes? You don’t see him coming out and calling ref’s out for missed pass interference calls, or incorrectly ruling catches drops, do you? If he did this for every ref, and every game, then they would quickly come to the realization that either: A) The rules suck and need to be changed; or B) The refs suck and need to be changed.

  43. Is it really wise for Blandino to admit the ref’s mistakes? You don’t see him coming out and calling ref’s out for missed pass interference calls, or incorrectly ruling catches drops, do you? If he did this for every ref, and every game, then they would quickly come to the realization that either: A) The rules suck and need to be changed; or B) The refs suck and need to be changed.
    ===
    Yes, you actually do, nearly every single week. Evaluating the officials is his job.

  44. So people believe this was an instance of a team cheating? If they get away with a holding is it cheating? Gimme a break. Super bowl week has devolved into who can act like a 12 year old.

    I watched that game like anyone else and like most people at the end of the 3rd quarter I went and re-arranged my sock drawer.

    Christ – if Seattle played Indy it would probably the largest margin of victory in the history of the super bowl. That Colts team was weak.

    This is on the refs ass. THIS IS WHY THEY CANNOT USE ‘ALL STAR’ (sarcasm) crews in the playoffs.

    We’ve all heard this call many times before “Number (such and such) did not report as eligible”

    I think next year you will not see these mixed crews.

  45. As a long time Patriots fan, reading all these articles has certainly made it more enjoyable the past few weeks. Everyone is trying to knock the Pats down with every little thing they can come up with. Keep fueling the fire NFL and referees. When the Patriots win on Sunday there will be another rule the Patriots broke, turned into cheating and all the world will be back to normal. Envy breeds content. Winning brings on the haters. Colts scored 7 points because the Pats offense was using deflated balls the 1st half. What happened the rest of the game. Oh yeah, Pats scored 28 points and the Colts none.

  46. The late Earl Weaver who was the former manager of the Baltimore Orioles once said “If you must cheat, start now.” Bill Belichick should say one day and cool off you Patriots haters. I can dream.

  47. The funniest part about all of the past two weeks is listening to the fans, players, and coaches of perennial losing teams blame everything about their losing ways on the Patriots, who’ve been winning so long they forget what it was like otherwise. The Patriots did this, look at them do that, they took my parking space, they stole my girlfriend, etc. I understand–it hurts.

    …but few things are more sad to listen to than an excuse-making loser. It’s very unbecoming. It’s classic “woulda, coulda, shoulda” garbage.

    How about this: have your teams go figure out how and why they lost (here’s a hint–it wasn’t the ball, jackass) and come back with season-long improvements and discipline in all 3 phases of the game. That’s how the Patriots really win, FYI. They coach average attitudes and players into great, team-first contributors who LEARN to become selfless to the greater cause.

    Even Belichick’s antagonists recognize him as one of the top football minds in the history of the league. He’s done more with less than anyone I’ve ever seen. Let the acceptance of that fact be the first step in all of your collective therapies…good luck.

  48. That’s great — all the trolls are emerging to substantiate their belief that the Pats and Belichick “cheaters” because the REFS MISSED A CALL.

    Seriously? A ref missed a call and you’re using it to argue that the coach is a cheater?

    Good lord, no matter who you root for, your team’s gotten away with missed calls for yardage gain and/or points. What does that make your team? Cheaters!

    These rabid dogs in the comment forum cannot see past the froth from their mouths.

  49. It’s just like all the holding that goes in a game:
    Sometimes the Refs see it and most of the time they don’t. Same thing on pass interference: Riding piggy back no call–touch them on hand
    it’s raining yellow! WHAT A JOKE!!!!!

  50. move the hash marks and goal posts back to where they were pre 75( I think) , which creates a tougher angle for FGs and makes the field of play as it always was, shorten up one side of the field and watch the 2000 yard rushers go away to where they belong.

    You can’t say NE has a culture of corruption, based on two instances, one confirmed, the other simply conjecture, and let Seattle have 8 PED violations in four years and not call them a culture of drug users. Pete Carrol is the dirtiest coach in the NFL, and the NCAA.

  51. Bah…At that point, it wouldn’t have mattered. 38-7 is still a rump kicking in anyone’s book as opposed to 45-7. Colts still lost the game, right?

  52. All these posts by Ravens fans…or should I ask, How many screen names does Harbaugh have?

    The Ravens lost to the better team that day.

  53. You can’t say NE has a culture of corruption, based on two instances, one confirmed, the other simply conjecture, and let Seattle have 8 PED violations in four years and not call them a culture of drug users. Pete Carrol is the dirtiest coach in the NFL, and the NCAA.
    =======
    I like making up numbers, that’s what I like to do.

    Seattle has had one PED violation in the last two years (and one pot violation), and that player was cut and now plays for the Pats.

    The Pats have had more PED violations than the Hawks the last two years, along with various other INSTITUTIONAL methods of cheating.

    Whine all you want, the entire country know the Pats are cheaters.

    #******************

  54. The Illegal 20-Yard Swing in the Pats-Ravens Game

    Despite the attention heaped on deflategate, the bigger scandal of the playoffs will end up having been the refs mishandling of the Patriots eligibility-aided drive against the Ravens.

    Proper enforcement of the rules would have penalized the Patriots for 5 yards. Add that 5 to the 15 yard penalty that the Ravens took to call attention to the scheme and that’s a 20-yard swing on a scoring drive in a very close game.

    No one, including PROFOOTBALLTALK.COM, appears to have held the refs to the standards laid out in the NFL’s 2012 POINTS OF EMPHASIS, which specifically address the situation that occurred in the Patriots-Ravens game. Everyone, including PROFOOTBALLTALK.COM, has taken the refs at their word without much scrutiny. The refs still seem confused about how to handle this situation. If they looked at the 2012 POINTS OF EMPHASIS, the answer is right there.

    The cold logic here includes two points and one extrapolation.

    1. FACT: It was widely reported that Shane Vereen on at least one play reported his ineligibility just before the snap on the drive.

    2. FACT: Players wearing numbers that don’t qualify them for their position must report to the referee “BEFORE ENTERING THE HUDDLE.” And if a player fails to properly report his change in eligibility, “IT WILL RESULT IN A 5-YARD PENALTY FOR ILLEGAL SUBSTITUION.”

    3. EXTRAPOLATION: If the refs had thrown the flag, Harbaugh would not have gotten the unsportsmanlike conduct. That’s the 20-yard swing on a scoring drive.

    Here is the portion of the 2012 points of emphasis:

    “The committee also reviewed the procedures for an offensive player who comes into the game wearing a number that does not qualify him for the position he takes. These players must report to the referee, before entering the huddle. The referee and umpire will then report the same to the defensive team.

    This rule prevails whether a player is already in the game or is an entering substitute and whether it is a play from scrimmage, an attempted field goal, or a try after a touchdown. If a player fails to report his change in eligibility, it will result in a 5-yard penalty for illegal substitution.”

    Clearly no one wants to talk about this. Not the Patriots certainly, not the NFL refs (who are still confused about how to handle this issue) and not the Ravens (who in retrospect should have called a timeout.) But that doesn’t change the fact that if the refs had handled it properly, the outcome might have been different.

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