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Hochuli without primetime microphone, may be on defense for scoreboard peek



Week 15: Packers at Patriots

Referee Ed Hochuli won’t have the benefit of his informative public-address announcements to defend a flag in the second quarter of the Sunday night game.

Mike Reiss of reports a helmet-to-helmet hit by Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty on Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was penalized 20 to 30 seconds after the play because Hochuli received visual confirmation from a scoreboard replay.

The scoreboard video can never be used by officials to make any ruling. Ever.

I have to see the video of the call myself, but it may not be relevant if Hochuli saw a penalizable action on the scoreboard. As the head referee, Hochuli doesn’t call downfield penalties, because his coverage area is the quarterback. However, Hochuli would make the ultimate call in a case where the covering officials are “tied” in their decision.

That said, the appearance of the use of the scoreboard video is troubling. This is likely to stoke the rumor mill, so I expect the league to make a statement on this by midweek, even if it is a one-sentence (or one-word) answer.

Also likely is that Patriots coach Bill Belichick will fry the video board director who rolled a replay that oddly may have disadvantaged the home team.

Belichick also addressed the highly litigious Hochuli crew: “Look these guys call the most penalties of any crew in the league. … We knew it was going to be a [tightly officiated] game, and it was. I’ve got to do a better job preparing the team.”

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)