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Walt Anderson: Officials got a replay assist to rule Cardinals short on fourth down

In the second quarter of today’s Ravens-Cardinals game, Arizona running back Emari Demercado took a handoff up the middle on fourth-and-1. The officials spotted the ball, and as the chains started to come out to measure, the officials then re-spotted the ball, moving it back and short of the first down.

So why did the officials move the ball after the original spot? NFL Senior V.P. of Officiating Walt Anderson says the replay booth saw that the original spot was in error.

“This was a replay assist from the booth at the stadium,” Anderson said, via the pool report. “With the replay assist rule, what that allows us to do is provide officials with objective information if we end up with clear and obvious video evidence. We waited a bit because we weren’t exactly sure where the officials were going to initially spot the ball after all the players cleared and we could see it was actually spotted on the big line. Then the replay official told the officials that the ball was clearly short and that’s why the umpire ended up moving the ball. And obviously with it being short on a fourth down with the new rule this year, a failed fourth down attempt is a booth review. But since we had already assisted, we knew it was short. That’s why we didn’t stop it further to review again.”

NFL officials are increasingly relying on the replay booth to alert them quickly if a call is wrong. If it corrects a bad call and does so without needing to delay the game for a formal review, it’s a good thing.