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October 23, 2012 @ 1:02 pm
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Dominik Clarifies NFL Stance On Sunday's Field Goal Penalty

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 35-28 loss to the Saints, the Buccaneers were called for unsportsmanlike conduct for simulating the snap count on a field goal attempt. On Tuesday, general manager Mark Dominik met with the media to clarify the NFL's position on the play.
Sunday’s 35-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints was painful for a number of reasons. As in most games, a couple of plays were the difference between winning and losing, and Sunday was no different.

One of those painful plays came early in the fourth quarter when the Buccaneers defense held the Saints on third down and forced New Orleans to attempt a 51-yard field goal. As the Saints snapped the ball, the yellow flag flew from the umpires back pocket and the play was blown dead.

The call from the referee was unsportsmanlike conduct and an automatic first down. Four plays later the Saints scored their last – and ultimately the deciding touchdown.

Head coach Greg Schiano went ballistic on the sidelines screaming at the referees and pleading his case to no avail.

On Tuesday general manager Mark Dominik spoke to the local media and explained the NFL’s stance on the specific penalty.

“Just to update, I have been in contact with the league office on that play,” Dominik said. “Everything we did from a defensive line point is legal – the shifting. Mason Foster – everything he did in terms of movement is legal. Everything. The only thing up for (debate) as to why the flag was thrown was the disconcerting sound of which the league office said they heard a 'huh-huh.' That is what the umpire said he heard.”

Dominik explained this wasn’t the first time the Buccaneers had used that tactic.

“Now we have run the play with success before – against Washington,” Dominik said. “It is clear we say move on that play (against) Washington. There is no audio transcript of the New Orleans play. At that point it was a judgment of what he thought he heard. And that is why the flag was thrown.

Some in the media have questioned Schiano’s tactics on several occasions; most notably the now well known kneel down play earlier this year at New York. The latest controversy has added some fuel to the puzzling anti-Schiano sentiment, but Dominik said it shouldn’t.

“So it is a legal play up to the point of what did the player actually say,” Dominik said. “We coach our players to say the same thing we did against Washington. And the reason why we do the play – and this is not a play that Greg took from Rutgers or college – it is a play we have seen at the NFL level, that we have already had success with. And that is why we did it again.”

Dominik went on to sum up the league’s position.

“(The word) move is permitted,” Dominik said. “As long as he is not simulating the sound of the count. That is permitted. So it is what the word sounds like, not specifically the word.”

Whether the Buccaneers continue to use the field goal tactic is still up in the air Dominik said.

“I’ll let the coaching staff and everybody in the organization decide whether we see it again, or use it again.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 October 2012 16:03

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  • avatar

    "The latest controversy has added some fuel to the puzzling anti-Schiano sentiment, but Dominik said it shouldn’t." Why shouldn't it? Why is it puzzling? I have been a Bucs fan since 1976 and I don't remember feeling like we are using such Punk tactics before. An occasional misdirection, or trick play, fine. But Coach Schiano implores these Bush League gimmicks that have now cost us a possible win. Mark Cook please explain why the fans should not be critical of Schiano for these (killing the center in the victory formation, shifting everyone during a field goal, etc.)?
  • avatar

    The call by the ref was "making a disconcerting MOVE in an attempt to get the offense to false start." Now they're saying it was verbal and the move was legal.Sounds to me like cya time.
  • avatar

    Well they should have called illegal contact on the Mike Williams no TD pass. It was beyond 5 yards besides I have seen plenty of those calls made.
  • avatar

    BucDiesel, it was not illegal contact. Once the QB leaves the pocket, the rule of contact beyond 5 yards from the line of scrimmage NOT being allowed is gone. Once the QB leaves the pocket, receivers can begin to block defensive players without a flag for offensive pass interference, and defenders are permitted to make contact with opposing receivers as longas the ball is not in the air. Since Josh was outside the pocket, it was not illegal contact because it couldn't be.
  • avatar

    Yes, that's what I figured, as it looked to me that Foster said something. Anything that could be construed as faking the snap count to cause a false start is (and should be) a penalty on the D.
  • avatar

    Jon Zimmer, NFL league spokesman, said the field goal penalty was called because Mason Foster yelled out “words meant to disconcert an offensive team at the snap” as spelled out in Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 of the NFL rule book. Don’t assume that it was only the fact that words were spoken that this penalty was called. In this particular case, it was the spoken word of Mason Foster that was deemed a “disconcerting signal”. The rule specifically states that disconcerting is defined as “The defensive use of acts or words designed to disconcert an offensive player at the snap”. This is an intentional vague rule written to allow the referee the judgment to determine what is a “disconcerting signal”. There is no list of infractions written into the rule. If everyone had stood up and started clapping their hands, it might have likewise been deemed a “disconcerting signal” even though no words were spoken. If no penalty was called in the Redskins game it was because in the judgment of those officials, whatever was done was not intended to disconcert the snap count. It is at minimum a slippery slope. The NFL has lots of these types of rules subject to interpretation that have become settled law by the actions of the parties, ie, years of practice where certain behavior has become acceptable even though the rule doesn’t spell it out. Like the victory formation where teams have generally accepted over the years how teams behave even though there is no specific language in a rule that addresses it. That gray area is where Schiano is going against the grain. True, he has broken no rules, but is not adhering to the generally accepted behavior of the league. I won’t pass judgment on what he is doing, but he may earn his team unnecessary scrutiny or even unequal treatment by the officials if he persists!
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