Odd event in yesterday's Cowboys/Bengals game

A strange thing happened when the teams were lined up for the extra point after one of the Cowboy’s touchdowns. Right before the snap one of the officials ran up to one of the Bengals players and started patting him on the butt. After a few seconds of being patted, the player moved over about a foot, then the official ran back to his spot. What in the heck was going on here?

It’s against the rules to rush the long snapper in a kick formation, because he’s in such a vulnerable position immediately after snapping. I’m guessing – and that’s all it is, since I don’t remember the play – that the Bengals player was lined up over center, and the ref was warning him about his positioning.

Okay, I’ll buy that since the player was indeed positioned over center initially. However, since when is it the referee’s responsibility to help prevent that type of violation? Do they run up and warn a player that’s a step back from the line of scrimmage that it’s an illegal formation? Are there any other situations where an official will try to prevent a rule infraction in that way?

Assuming he’s correct, and it sounds like he may be, it’s not so much that he’s preventing a rule infraction as preventing an injury. Longsnappers have to look between their legs and if they get hit with their head down it could easily strain or, worse, break his neck. In a case like that, where the rule exists purely for safety reasons, I’m perfectly okay with a ref doing that rather than try to get the 15 yard penalty and hope your longer snapper doesn’t get seriously injured.

Yep, the original response was definitely correct. He was warning the defender to move over so that he wouldn’t be flagged. There aren’t too many other similar situations, but IIRC you can usually ask the zebras if you’re lined up offsides too, and they’ll let you know if you’re OK.

BTW, I saw that same thing last night in the Vikings/Saints game.

I definitely notice in HS games - but generally the wideouts there give the line judge a look and put their hand up if they are supposed to be on the line or back if they’re supposed to be off of it in the slot, and the official will confirm them.

I assume the same thing happens at other levels, I just don’t notice it.

Preventive officiating - used often to prevent injuries or just pointless penalties.

It’s unusual for a official to nudge a player out of the way because it’s usually the wing officials doing the PO (“you’re on the line / you’re off the line / where do you want to be? / back up #2 on defense”, etc) but in the middle of the field a little nudge can get the right player’s attention.