Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

A Closer Look at Fifth Down

The “Fifth Down” play at the end of the Redskins-Buccaneers caused so much confusion that I logged onto NFL Game Rewind this morning to see exactly what happened.

To set the stage: the Redskins were driving after the two minute warning, moving the ball mostly through short passes to Keiland Williams. Williams caught a nine-yard pass on a crossing route to set up third-and-1 at the 21-yard line. With the clock running (and the announcers chuckling about the Redskins clock management), McNabb slowly brought the troops to the line and hit Santana Moss for nine yards on a short bench route. That set up first-and-10 from (about) the 12-yard line. The clock ticked under a minute as the Redskins came to the line.

With the Buccaneers playing a very soft zone coverage (either Cover-2 or Cover-4), Anthony Armstrong ran a short, uncontested slant route. Armstrong caught a low McNabb throw with his right leg at the four-yard line and his left knee practically on the ground just outside the five-yard line. Safety Corey Lynch breaks hard on the route. Armstong gets some forward momentum after the catch, but I have a still frame on my screen right now of Armstrong crumbled at roughly the three-and-a-half yard line after contact with Lynch.

Now, this is where it gets weird. The computer-generated yellow first down line is stretched across the two-yard line. The on-field first down marker, ground pad at all, is clearly standing at the three-yard line! When I rewound back to the snap, the down indicator stood just inside the 12-yard line, while the ball was snapped from about the 12-yard, one-foot line. The first down marker appears to be misplaced by a good two feet. I accounted for parallax as best I could, but no matter how I counted, it looked like the Redskins were in first-and-9 before Armstrong’s catch.

After Lynch downed Armstrong, the receiver slid for a moment, ending up with his helmet over the two-yard line (and the yellow line). At this point, Armstrong had a first down according to the yard markers on the field. In fact, even without the slide, he had a first down, or at least an excuse to measure, when Lynch landed on him.

Then it got weirder. Armstrong got up to run, as if Lynch never touched him. Armstrong then tossed the football to an official walking along at about the three-and-a-half yard line, a reasonable place to spot the ball. Umpire Ruben Fowler, standing at the one-yard line, asked for the ball. Fowler wandered a yard or two, first back toward midfield then to the middle of the field, before the camera shifted away to Mike Shanahan, who wanted a timeout because the clock was running during all of this nonsense.

When we cut back to the field (after shots of angry Shanahan and cheering wet Redskins fans), the down indicator read first down. The on-screen graphic read second-and-1. There was a blue line just inside the three-yard line and a yellow first down line at the two-yard line, where it always was and probably always should have been. The ball appeared to be about seven feet from the end zone, meaning that even if Armstrong’s catch appeared to be a first down according to the orange markers (which appeared to be misplaced), there should have been a measurement.

At this point, the official PBP on NFL.com read the following:

1-10-TB 12 (:49) (Shotgun) D.McNabb pass short right to A.Armstrong to TB 3 for 9 yards (C.Lynch).
Timeout #2 by WAS at 00:32.
2-1-TB 3 (:32) D.McNabb pass incomplete short right to R.Williams.

The Redskins ran a fade, then a sweep to Williams, then called another timeout. The television graphics never sync up with the down markers. The announcers are clearly confused on the incomplete pass to Fred Davis on third-and-4. “It is fourth down. The sticks on the field are incorrect,” Kenny Albert said as McNabb dropped to pass. A close-up of the Dial-a-Down switching to fourth down followed the Fred Davis incompletion. “There’s going to be some confusion on this one,” Moose Johnston said. Deciding to remain silent and be thought fools, the announcers just called the next play – the Santana Moss touchdown – without mentioning the down mix-up.

The official PBP read:

1-10-TB 12 (:49) (Shotgun) D.McNabb pass short right to A.Armstrong to TB 3 for 9 yards (C.Lynch).
Timeout #2 by WAS at 00:32.
2-1-TB 3 (:32) D.McNabb pass incomplete short right to R.Williams.
3-1-TB 3 (:28) R.Torain right end ran ob at TB 6 for -3 yards (T.Crowder).
4-4-TB 6 (:18) D.McNabb pass incomplete short middle to F.Davis.
Washington Redskins 0:04
4-4-TB 6 (:13) D.McNabb pass short middle to S.Moss for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

So let’s see: we have about two feet of links missing from the first down chains, which somehow stretch from the 12 to the three-yard line; a generous spot for Armstrong’s catch; an umpire taking the ball away from a fellow official in good position to make a spot and going for a stroll around the red zone with it; and a pass play that gained somewhere between 9.25 and 10.05 yards on first-and-10 in a close game that isn’t measured, even though the clock stopped. Raheem Morris should have demanded a measurement, or the officials just should have done it themselves. If those chains were stretched out, Armstrong would never have been rewarded a first down. Then again, Morris might have preferred giving the Redskins the first down: extra downs mean extra shots at the end zone.

I don’t think this was a case of home cooking. I think it was raining. The chain gang got a little lax about placement. The referees wanted to keep things moving. Shanahan was screaming about timeouts, and everybody was focused more on the clock than the markers, which became less relevant once the Redskins were inside the five-yard line. Everyone on the field assumed that Armstrong had a first down: the down indicator stayed consistent through the whole series, and, there is no evidence of confusion among the Buccaneers when they line up for the Moss touchdown. And of course, the missed extra point rendered the whole sequence moot.

It just goes to show you that the closer you watch football, the stranger it becomes.


by jklps :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 2:57pm

The radio broadcast got it wrong too.

by JasonK :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:04pm

Who is this? Based on the content in Audibles and the overall writing style, I'm guessing that Aaron wrote this, but the post never says.

This seems to happen somewhat often on these one-off columns that aren't part of a regular weekly series.

by strutzby (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:14pm

The RSS feed credits Mike Tanier as the author.

by Dean :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:18pm

Can you translate that into English?

by Mike Tanier :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:25pm

It was I, Tanier, with Aaron adding some parts.

Chances are, if something is posted only semi-correctly, I am involved in some way.

by JasonK :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:29pm

Well, then, for saying that it resembled Aaron's writing style, I apologize... to whomever among the two of you might feel slighted.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:42pm

Heh. I added the official PBP because I personally find it interesting that the official scorers made the same mistake the broadcasters did. The rest is Mike.

by Independent George :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:42pm

Would have been much funnier if it were Aaron posting, "It was I, Tanier", or the other way around. I just don't understand this pathological tendency of yours of sacrificing good comedy for the sake of clarity.

by Dean :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:51pm

I was really asking "what the hell is an RSS feed." I don't actually care enough to google it or anything, and I can tell from the context that it's some sort of IT jargon, but that's about it.

by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:22pm

An RSS feed is a feed that collects all posts on a blog/website and delivers them to everyone subscribed to that feed. People tend to use RSS readers, such as feedburner or google reader, to keep track of what has been posted on websites that they like to read since the last time they looked at that site. It's a good way to keep track of lots of different sites and blogs at one central website. I use Google Reader, myself.

Wikipedia can explain further:


by Dean :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 11:07am

Thanks. I guess I don't read that many blogs where I'd need something like that.

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:59pm

Despite the clarification from Aaron and Mike, I'm going to imagine that the FO Hive Mind posted it, allowing the logo at the top of the page to serve as the sole identification of the author.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:10pm

The on-field first down marker, ground pad at all, it clearly standing at the three-yard line!

It's actually the two-and-two thirds yard line, according to MS Paint and counting pixels. (Parallax accounted for by translating a yardline up and over to connect to the 3-yard-line).

When I rewound back to the snap, the down indicator stood just inside the 12-yard line, while the ball was snapped from about the 12-yard, one-foot line.

I don't think the down indicator's position is relevant at all: the chains were on the opposite side of the field. The base of the ball is clearly at *least* at the 12-and-a-half foot line - it's probably a little closer to the 13 than that (about two inches according to the pixelated photo).

Assume the center picked up the ball and puts its base where the point of the ball was. That means that the line of scrimmage was at 12 yards, 20 inches. The first down marker was at 2 yards, 24 inches.

Seriously, the discrepancy we're talking about here is 4 inches. This is measuring middle-to-middle, always horizontally.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:38pm

Measuring more accurately (taking both along/against the field parallax into account), it's more like 6 +/- 2 inches.

Still, given that we're looking at the unofficial side of the field, it's well within a human margin of error over half the width of the field.

by dmb :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:57pm

You make a strong argument that the placement/down ruling wasn't a big mistake, but if it's that close, then there's no excuse for failing to measure and/or review the spot.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:39pm

Huh? What's the "close" part?

FOX's lines were off by somewhere between half a yard and a yard. The "6+/-2 inches" bit is how far off the first down lineman was from his position, based on the idea that the position of the ball was the line of scrimmage.

So basically the Redskins had about one and a half to two feet of room where they would've actually gotten a first down, but not apparently due to FOX's line's being off. If someone makes a first down by a foot, they don't usually review it.

I don't see this as being anyone's fault but FOX, and as I said in the Audibles thread, it looks like just a rounding error, since it looks like they place their lines directly on yard markers.

by RickD :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:45pm

Since Fox doesn't control Redskins Radio, I find it hard to accept the notion that the only people to blame were at Fox. If both Fox and Redskins Radio were confused, it's the fault of the officials for not explaining what exactly was going on.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:02pm

What exactly happened on the radio?

I'm a bit confused as to *why* they were confused, since the first down marker was at the ~2.5 or so, and the down indicators were always completely consistent. Presumedly the officials gave a first down indication as well. Like I said, the only thing that indicated that they *wouldn't* have gained the first down is something that's not visible in real life (the yellow line).

I'm wondering if they had the game on TV as well, but that's a bit harsh to be presuming with no knowledge.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:12pm

I don't think the official scorer is a FOX employee.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:19pm

I hate to suggest this - I really do, but is it possible that the official scorer was watching the game on FOX as well as live? (I *really* hate to suggest he wasn't watching the game live.) I don't know anything about the official scorer setup, so I don't want to presume.

I can't think of any other reason why the official scorer would make that mistake, since the down indicator showed first, second and third down for the downs he marked as 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.

And presumedly the official indicated 1st down after the 1st down at the 12-ish play, though we don't know that considering it wasn't in the broadcast.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:45pm

Actually, let me go the other way: it might've been only the official scorer's mistake. It depends on who made the first error and how it propagated.

Well, I guess FOX is still a bit to blame since their whole "blue/yellow line" thing aggravates things when it looks like they're only accurate to +/- half a yard.

by tuluse :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 7:43pm

Usually whenever there is a close call the announcers are keen to point out the line is not official, and they wait for the refs to make a call. I'm the scorer made an error, and the announcers for TV and radio used that information which lead to the confusion.

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:02pm

Congratulations, Pat. Football is no longer a game of inches. It is now a game of pixels. What would Red Grange say?

I look forward to the day an official announces a measurement as "The ball is three inches short of a first down." (Then pulling out a conversion table) "For you viewing at home, that's 27 pixels on a Sony LCD flat panel screen, 24 pixels on....."

Three minutes later, he's still going on and Joey Porter's pit bulls are being released on-field to shut him up. Hey, they killed a neighbor's miniature horse, they can surely shut up a zebra. (not named Hochuli)

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:31am

What did that straw man ever do to you?

by keglermike (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:15pm

In my opinion, the replay booth should have buzzed down so they could review.

If they miss something this obvious, why is the NFL spending money on the replay booth in the first place?

Also begs the question: Why should coach challenges be prohibited in the last two minutes, if the replay booth can be shown to be this incompetent?

I have no dog in this fight - but I am a long-time Mizzou fan, and I am shocked that nobody apparently has learned a damn thing from the MU-CU fiasco a couple of decades ago.

by keglermike (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:18pm

Forgot to add: In an earlier Chiefs game this season, the NFL crew had the down wrong for a couple of plays. Fortunately, Todd Haley called a timeout and screamed at the officials, who at that point gathered together and corrected their mistake.

Sorry - can't recall which game this was.

by Boots Day :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:33pm

The Chiefs game was their first one against the Broncos, with the incredibly incompetent Jeff Triplette officiating.

Maybe the strangest thing about this was that it didn't occur to anyone that a measurement was needed. Bringing the sticks out onto the field would have erased the whole problem.

by EorrFU :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:36pm

Can we call him "The arrogant Jeff Tripplette who once blinded a starting tackle for the Clevland Browns and cost the NFL a reported 25 million in a settlement."

by PatsFan :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:01pm

I prefer "The ignorant of basic physics and geometry Jeff Triplette who thinks a ball fumbled from a runner's right arm on the left sideline at the one yard line when the runner was blasted from behind and the side and lands at least 10 feet in front of the runner didn't go through the endzone for a touchback."

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:04pm

Off-topic, but did they give Haley his TO back? I mean, he used it to clear up an official's error, not to gain an advantage....

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:32am

IIRC, yes, they did. If you have NFL Rewind you could go check.

by dbt :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:00pm

I don't think so, but it was in the first half, and he was still able to use it to get a play called that scored a TD.

Here's a link to the play that caused the problem (this was week 9, Chiefs @ Raiders):


Basically: 3rd and 2 from the 6. Completion for a TD, officials set down the sticks. Oakland challenges, receiver ruled down by contact on replay at the 1. Triplette comes out and says "receiver ruled down by contact at the 1, therefore it will be 4th and 1, er, 4th and goal at the 1, please reset the clock to ..."

It wasn't until after the Chiefs didn't convert the "4th down" that the Chiefs complained and got it fixed.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 3:40pm

Considering my rambling on this in Audibles, I've spent some time on this one. As soon as my Tivo records the Short Cuts for this game, maybe I'll give the end a re-watch, but yeah, it looks to me that somebody just stands in the wrong spot on this one. I don't think it's a conspiracy or "home-cooking", it's just a series of little mistakes that possibly might happen on a semi-regular basis, but, because it was a game-ending phenomenon, it means it was highlighted for once. While Morris should have screamed for a measurement, in a situation like that with him acting as defensive coordinator, I can't really blame him for not picking up that level of detail.

Thanks for looking into this, I do feel somewhat vindicated in my screaming "FIFTH DOWN! IT WAS FIFTH DOWN!" at the TV yesterday.

by Anonymus (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:00pm

Since was Tanier, the author, it wouldn't fit better at the NY Times blog?

It would look like they've sponsored it...

by RickD :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:06pm

The NFL owes us an explanation for this one. Both the TV and radio broadcasters thought that the Redskins didn't get a 1st down at the 2 yard line - at least, that's what they said at the time.

by jfsh :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:16pm

Don't forget that you can't see the yellow line in real life. The players, refs, coaches, etc are going to be looking to the (apparently misplaced) first down marker on the field, so it would seem to them that a first down had occurred. To the announcers, fans at home, and possibly the radio guys, the first down line is clearly in a different location. The only way the guys on the field would know something was wrong is if they noticed that the chain was not stretched tightly, which would probably require a lucky glance down at the right time.

by Harmy G (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:19pm

"the missed extra point rendered the whole sequence moot."

Not for those with money on the game!

The end of the Army-Navy game had a similar "oh, just give Army the first down" situation with Navy leading by 14. Those with Navy -7.5 were not pleased.

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:07pm

Unless they were former midshipmen, in which case a "win-win" situation became merely a "win" situation. And a win over army.... well, that's at least as good as winning a bet on any other game.

by joepinion (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:35pm

This doesn't seem that confusing... There was a single mistake: the first-down marker was somehow a yard short.. So the refs awarded a first down, the chain moved up for a first and goal and didn't make any more mistakes. Totally consistent. On the field no one even noticed, I'm sure.

What made it confusing is that the TV people, who marked the first down line where it should have been, never caught the chain gang's mistake. So the broadcasters were confused, and so was anyone else watching the broadcast. Apparently that includes the official scorekeeper.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:06pm

"What made it confusing is that the TV people, who marked the first down line where it should have been,"

No, it definitely was farther than it should've been. The line-of-scrimmage was exactly at the 12, and the ball was over halfway to the 13. You'd have to see exactly where the ball was spotted on the end of the play before, but looking at the pre-snap photo, the 2-yard line was easily half a yard farther than the real line to gain.

by hancockwasagreatmovie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:37pm

the official down/distance marker was off-screen, so you can't really use the televised one up top for analysis.

by EorrFU :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 4:38pm

The broadcast doesn't show the official down marker as that is on the home sideline.... Of course I was cold and wet in the stands 50 feet away and was too miserable to notice or care.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:27pm

Are people reading the same text as me? It seems to me a fair number of people are saying, "See, there was no problem, it was a properly-measured first down", when I'm seeing Tanier more or less saying "Something weird happened here" and that it looks like it was lax measurement. I haven't had a chance to watch the Short Cuts of this yet, but, from what I'm reading above, it's more of a "officials screwed up, and it should have been 2nd and 1, not 1st and 10" sort of thing, leading to the fifth down scenario.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:41pm

"but, from what I'm reading above, it's more of a "officials screwed up, and it should have been 2nd and 1, not 1st and 10" sort of thing,"

Where are you getting this?

The only idea we have of where the line of scrimmage should be, other than the FOX line, is where the ball is. Unless someone with NFL Rewind can link the previous play so we can guess where the spot was based on where he ended the previous play.

Tossing out the FOX lines *completely*: the ball's at 12 yards and ~18 inches to go (more like 20, but close enough). The unofficial first down marker (the far side marker) is at 2 yards and ~24 inches to go (again probably closer to 26 inches).

The difference between those two is 9 yards and 30 inches. Tanier said that Armstrong got the first down by the markers on the field (the far side markers, I'm assuming), and that marker's probably around 6 inches too short. If you assume the officials were going by the proper markers, it was probably a perfectly normal first down.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:46pm

"The first down marker appears to be misplaced by a good two feet. I accounted for parallax as best I could, but no matter how I counted, it looked like the Redskins were in first-and-9 before Armstrong’s catch."

There, perhaps?

I need to watch the short cuts to see the prior play.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:58pm

Yeah, but that's just based on the auxiliary marker. The officials probably weren't even looking over there, and there's no indication that anyone on field was confused about what down it was. According to Mike, he basically got pretty darn near the two, and depending on where the marker was, it could've been obvious to the officiating crew that it was a first down.

It looks a lot less like an officiating mistake rather than just a scorekeeping mistake that propagated to the broadcast booth and FOX telecasts.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:48pm

From the AP, it looks like what I'm saying is right - the auxiliary marker was off a bit, the line to gain was probably the 2-and-a-half, and then the official scorer's error just propagated to everyone else.

In any case I don't understand the "officials should've explained it" comments people are making. I don't think the officials - or the teams - had any idea this was happening. It's just a "game-to-TV/internet/radio" transmission error.

by Bobman :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 6:11pm

This makes me wonder how often this kind of thing happened, say, 50 years ago...? When they measured first downs with the femur of a mastodon. Especially at the end of a half when teams are hurrying, ref looks over, thinks 1st down, and everybody just reacts to that without questioning it.

by Ben :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 9:59pm

My wife often comments on how ridiculous it is to measure a first down to the fraction of a chain-link when the ball placement is just rough guesstimate by the ref.

by Bobman :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 3:46am

Having been the chain crew for youth football this year, I must agree. Not only is ball placement (after a giant pileup?) iffy, but the chain crew then has to interpret it to some degree. Is he 16 inches from the 30 or 20 inches?

I'm sure the pros are worlds better than I was, but basically, the ref places the ball about 75 feet away from you and if it's not touching a line at some point, you estimate as best you can. Even if it is straddling a line, you say "well, about 2 inches are sticking in front of the 35, I guess." The ref along the sidelines is doing the same thing and makes sure you are aligned with the ball, but still... if we're measuring in pixels now, there's way too much slop when guys are making visual judgement calls 75 feet away.

I now view it as fumble recovery randomness: every 1st down that requires a measurement is essentially a random event. It's right or wrong and blame is irrelevant because the system pretends to be a lot more precise than it really is.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:47am

I think of it like the clock in an NBA game. When their deciding to put .7 or .9 seconds on the clock. Sure there were probably a dozen occasions during the game where the clock stopped earlier/sooner than it should have and there is no way the clock is accurate measure to the second of how much time should be left, much less tenths of a second. However, it doesn't really matter. All that matters is they get the time from the last stoppage correct. Likewise with a measurement. It doesn't really matter if they got the chains in the exact right spot, all that matters is that the ball gets past the marker.

by Sander :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:30pm

The spot on the previous play wasn't shown, but the play ends with Moss down at the 12-yard-line. The ball's snapped on the 1st&10 from the "12 and a bit" as you say, but the ball on the play after the 9/10-yard gain is snapped from...the 3-yard-line. That's 9.5-9.8 yards, and that's not a first down or at the very least a measurement.

Here's a picture of the play that got them to the 12, and yes that's the instant he's down and not after he's rolled on after touching the ground:

by AnonymousTBDefense (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:13am

I agree.

OTOH, I AM biased since I had the TB defense in fantasy football and that screw up cost me 3 points (but thankfully not my match).

I am a little suspicious about why Pat(filler) seems to argue so vociferously against the idea that the NFL might have screwed up.

Could he be a closet chain-gang member? :)

by Andrew B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:09pm

Thanks for this picture. Its pretty obvious Moss is way over the 13 yard line, and that the ball is pretty close to the 12.

The Original Andrew

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 2:07pm

In the screen shot posted, the ball is exactly at the 12, perhaps the 12 + 1 or two inches.

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 8:21pm

I can't promise anything, because ironically, Game Rewind itself is off. (Play descriptions are off by four plays at this point: the description is four plays ahead of the on-field action.) The play prior to the X-yard gain is possibly linked here, even though it's described as the 2nd-and-1 incomplete pass. It seems to come up correctly in the viewer, though.

by Theo :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 5:31pm

...and to miss and extra point?
That's like the saints miracle play and miss the extra point.
Boy, karma is a bitch.

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 6:36am

I had forgotten about that game! Thanks for the reminder, it makes me feel slightly better about this one.

by Boots Day :: Mon, 12/13/2010 - 9:24pm

Does anyone know what the stadium scoreboards had for each down? They were presumably in sync with the down markers on the field.

by jebmak :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:41am

Don’t let this get you down … down … down … down … down.”

- Asa Bushnell

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 1:56pm

One more reason to put little GPS locators at each end of the ball.

by Andrew B :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 4:10pm

We are having trouble getting GPS to be accurate within 1 foot on a construction project. I don't think that would work for football.

The Original Andrew

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/14/2010 - 5:13pm

Well no a global positioning system, but a transmitter in and some towers to create a football field positioning system might work.

However, I don't see how that would have helped here, as the problem wasn't where the ball ended up, but where the first down marker was.