NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL's senior vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, agreed with two controversial rulings made by officials at the end of the Denver Broncos' 25-23 victory Sunday over the New Orleans Saints.
First, Blandino explained that Broncos defensive end Jared Crick did not commit a penalty when he pushed down on Saints long-snapper Justin Drescher's helmet to drive him toward the ground and create room for Denver's Justin Simmons to leap over the line and block the kick.
"He's going to get his hands up on top of the snapper and push him toward the ground. That's legal," Blandino said. "Open-hand push, legal. If there was a grab and a pull, that would be defensive holding. This is a similar concept as an offensive lineman blocking a defensive player. If he can get up on top of that defensive player and push him toward the ground, it's legal, versus grabbing and pulling him."
Then, Blandino examined whether Denver's Will Parks might have stepped out of bounds during the return.
Blandino acknowledged that "it's very close, looks like the foot could be out." But he explained that none of the three replay angles gave a direct, conclusive view.
"White shoe, white sideline, very difficult to tell from this angle," Blandino said. "We need something looking right down the line from either end zone. And unfortunately we just don't get that look. ... It looks like the foot could be out but you just can't tell. You're looking at it from this perspective, it's impossible to tell for sure. You need something right down the line in order to make a definitive ruling.
"And it's important to remember, in replay, we're not re-officiating the play. Replay is designed to fix obvious mistakes. And if it's not an obvious mistake, then the call on the field must stand."
The Saints didn't complain too much about either call immediately following the game, since they had not yet had the benefit of reviewing the tape. Drescher said he felt like he got pulled forward or down but wasn't positive.
As for the return, Saints coach Sean Payton also brought up the white shoe/white sideline dilemma while saying, "It's hard to tell. I think those guys are doing their best to look at it. He's got white shoes on, the sideline's white, so there's not a real good picture -- at least I didn't see one. So I understand."