Six football games in 48 – hours! Whew! The games start to blend together.
Here are some officiating observations and notes from this weekend.
1. Two alternates
The last time an alternate came in to work was in 2007, due to an injury. This week we had two alternates start the game — apparently the first time that has happened since the 1948 Championship Game, when they added extra assistance during a snowstorm. Mark Hittner worked for Danny Short and Bruce Stritesky worked for Steve Woods — in both cases the veterans filling in for playoff first-timers.
There’s no reason given for why Short and Woods didn’t work this weekend, whether it was a positive test (either symptomatic or asymptomatic) or a close-contact situation.
This was the first time the NFL scheduled five alternates for the wild card round. It wasn’t how Hittner and Stritesky wanted to work this weekend, but both veterans filled in nicely.
2. Lots of “stands” this weekend
We were surprised a few times this weekend that instant replay upheld some challenges.
The goal is not to re-officiate the play when it goes to the Art McNally Game Day Center. But, there were a few calls we thought might get overturned that stood up.
3. Rare playoff ejection
The Bears Anthony Miller was ejected for throwing a punch. This was the first post-season ejection since Bruce Irvin was ejected in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLIX.
4. Line judge Walt Coleman IV with an outstanding call!
The Baltimore Ravens appeared to convert a fourth and two, but Coleman brought it back due to offensive pass interference.
Willie Snead IV threw a slight pick. If it was a deep bomb, that’s probably a no-call. But Snead’s pick caused the defender to lose a step, and on fourth and two, a step is all that’s needed.
5. Return to the playoffs
Referee Jerome Boger and line judge Greg Bradley make a return to the playoffs. This was Boger’s first on-field playoff game since he worked Super Bowl XLVII.
This was Bradley’s first on-field playoff game in 10 years.
6. Quiet on the officiating front
There were some close games and a few yawners.
But, there wasn’t any cringe-worthy call this weekend, nor were there any games where the officiating was sub-par.
There was a sporadic clunky moment here and there, but each official proved their worth this weekend.
Only seven more NFL games and one more college football game left. Sigh…