Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins appeared to have a touchdown taken away from him by the officials when he was ruled out of bounds as he tiptoed along the sideline en route to the end zone on Monday night. But NFL V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino believes his officials got it right.
Blandino posted a video showing the Hopkins play and said that Hopkins’ heel did appear to touch the white sideline. Blandino acknowledged that the replay doesn’t conclusively show that the officials were correct, but he doesn’t think it shows the officials were incorrect either.
“The right foot at the 36-yard line,” Blandino said. “Look at the heel. The heel appears to be in the white. It’s not right down the line so it’s not definitive, but we certainly can’t say he was obviously in bounds from this angle. The heel looks like it’s down. It looks like it could be touching the white. It’s not definitive either way. . . . It certainly appears that the foot is out of bounds. . . . There’s no way we can say this foot is clearly in bounds and the ruling on the field is that he was out.”
Blandino pointed out that a play like that can’t be reviewed on instant replay because once an official signals that a play is over, it’s over.
“This is not reviewable,” Blandino said. “If we rule the player out of bounds, we’re killing it, we’re blowing whistles, you can’t give an advance in replay. The theory is the players are stopping because of the dead ball ruling and it would be impossible to tell where the receiver would have ended up if we hadn’t killed the play.”
It’s actually not impossible to tell where Hopkins would have ended up: Hopkins obviously would have ended up in the end zone, given that he’s a fast runner who was five yards beyond the nearest defender. But under NFL rules, that call was impossible to change.