A closer look at the atrocious Reggie Nelson personal foul call in the Cowboys-Bengals game last Sunday

On a 3rd and 21 from their own 32, Dallas threw a deep sideline pass to Dez Bryant.  Reggie Nelson broke up the play beautifully, hitting Bryant’s chest with his shoulder.  Textbook.  But, as is common in today’s NFL, out came the flag.  First down Cowboys.

Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk made the great point that the referee that was right on top of it wasn’t the one that threw the flag:

One of the most frustrating aspects of the penalty is that the official who appeared to have the best view of the collision didn’t throw his flag. The flag came from another official farther away, and yet the official who was right on top of the play didn’t correct his colleague’s mistake.

Here’s what he means.  Look at the official here.  This is not the guy that threw the flag:

In fact it didn’t even come from the second closest referee, who was also right on top of the play.  The two referees in position to make the play are circled in red below.  Where did it come from then?  It came from the back judge (circled in yellow), who was not only about 45 yards away from the play, but also on the run:

Rule of thumb guys… If you have wind up and crow hop to throw a flag, just keep it in your pocket.  Awful.


  1. Derf Diggy says:

    Yea calls were bad both ways, all over the field in that game. The penalty Rob Ryan was cussing over was a godawful call.

    I think Sense or godawful McCray had a similar hit on the drive before that where they dove for the ball and collided with the Bengals receiver and the defender drew a PI flag. What’s the rule on that? I’m seriously asking…If a QB puts the ball in a spot and both a Receiver and DB reach that spot simultaneously, and collide…what makes the WR defenseless over the DB? How is intention decided in that situation?

    The reality of the situation is that I don’t think these refs know what’s legal or not anymore…Unless it’s clear a defender is launching the crown of his helmet into a defenseless guy, it’s pretty inconsistent how they throw flags.

    1. It was Sims, and it was helmet to helmet.

      1. Derf Diggy says:

        Which doesn’t answer my question………It’s not as if the receiver had control of the ball, or it had even touched his hands and Sims launched himself…If I can recall, the ball was in the air and he was making a play on the ball.

        1. ATLEagle says:

          this isnt new. The concept that everyone has a right to the ball in the air has been gone for years, and I hate it. I am waiting for the day that a CB has a WR run into his back while intercepting the ball, and gets call for illegal contact as it interrupted the receivers path.

          1. ct17 says:

            Guess you missed Minnesota-Chicago last week. Marshall couldn’t catch the ball because he was too busy shoving Winfield to the ground, penalty Winfield. In the end zone.

        2. Any helmet to helmet at all is a no-no, until the receiver has the opportunity to defend himself.

          1. ATLEagle says:

            I hate this part though … “what makes the WR defenseless over the DB? ” I am fine with the helmet to helmet rules, but sometimes the DB can jump a route and cant do anything about owning a head.

            The default of a deep DB and a receiver running towards him is one thing, but jumping a slant or crossing pattern where the target is the ball and not the receiver, then the old 50/50 rule should be there. Possibly even with an eye toward protecting the defenseless defender.

        3. Sims call was correct. Weak, but correct.

          Nelson call was incorrect, and called by a ref in a different zip code.

          1. NYG_slater says:

            don’t try to placate em jimmy. The simms PF wasn’t a weak call. it was an easy call. Sims left his feet and dove. While, he dove low and didn’t intentionally try to hit the receiver in the head, he still left his feet and hit a defenseless receiver in the head. Nothing malicious, but an easy call to make.

            The nelson call was horrendous on multiple levels. First a blown call on a textbook play by nelson. Nelson never left his feet, and hit his aiming point, right in the numbers. Secondly, like you mentioned a ref on the completely opposite side of the field made the PF call. Lastly, the two refs who had clear vision of the play allowed a bad call to stand. Horrendous officiating and accountability.

            1. DerfDiggy says:

              Yooouuu maddd!

              1. NYG_slater says:

                not really, just stating what I saw. Thankfully, IMO the bad call did not influence the game score. After the call Dallas had two incompletions and a 10 yard sack. so the field position only changed about 5 yards–no harm done.

  2. brisulph says:

    Absolutely… one of the most textbook hits for a Safety, and he got flagged for it. Dallas did not score on the drive, but it was still a HUGE bailout and helped field position.

  3. David_Does_Dallas says:

    Well, they called Harris down on a kick return when he didn’t even come close to touching the ground. He ran all the way to the end zone and was kind of dumbfounded they had ruled him down. The calls in the game were pretty bad all around, just ask Rob Ryan.

    1. Brian A says:

      Yeah Jimmy seems to cherry pick calls that were bad and not acknowledge all of them.

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