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Dean Blandino says Nate Solder's Touchdown vs. Colts Shouldn't Have Counted

The NFL's head of officiating, Dean Blandino, said on Thursday that Patriots' offensive lineman Nate Solder's touchdown against the Colts in the AFC Championship game shouldn't have counted.

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The New England Patriotsuse of different formations and ineligible/eligible receivers has confused many throughout the league.  For the most part, what the Patriots are doing is perfectly legal and genius, as it's confusing everyone - though, of course, that also means that it's hard to tell when it goes from being legal to illegal.

According to the NFL's head of officiating Dean Blandino, there was a touchdown the Patriots scored against the Colts in the AFC Championship game that shouldn't have counted.

"There was an issue on that play where on the previous play, [Cameron] Fleming had reported as an eligible player," Blandino said, according to Comcast Sports Net New England's Phil Perry. "And on the Solder touchdown he went back to playing an ineligible position. That'€™s illegal. That'€™s an illegal substitution. So that'€™s something we discussed with the crew. Bill [Belichick] was made aware of it. So we'€™re going to be looking for that, make sure we follow the proper mechanics so that doesn'€™t happen again."

This is something that others, such as Jim Miller of Sirius XM NFL radio, noticed last week, and here's basically what happened: the NFL rules state that, when a player checks in as an eligible player, he has to come out for a play before then becoming ineligible again.  So on that particular play, Cameron Fleming was an eligible receiver on one play and then an ineligible receiver on the next, which was the play that lineman Nate Solder caught a 16-yard touchdown pass on.  It shouldn't have counted, though, because of the broken rule about the eligibility of receivers.

Of course, the Solder touchdown wasn't why the Colts were down 17-7 at halftime.  And it wasn't why the Colts were still outscored 21-0 in the second half even without Solder's score.  This is another one of those things, like deflategate, that didn't have an impact on the outcome of the game.  The Colts would have lost whether Solder's touchdown counted or didn't count.What it does show, however, is just how much confusion these formations from the Patriots have caused, and I'm sure that the NFL has been emphasizing what to look for to their officials these past two weeks - even if there is still some embarrassing disagreement between the two sides.