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Boger’s crew with several misfires casts a shadow over Chiefs-Patriots clash

NFL officiating crews draw ire from football fans across the country on a game-to-game basis. It is an aspect of the officiating world that is part of the job for the men and women in stripes on the field. This season, criticisms against officiating have run rampant across the football world, particularly in response to new replay changes. Rarely, a crew’s performance will illicit this harsh criticism from our platform, but in the case of the Chiefs-Patriots game on Sunday afternoon, an overall performance by the officiating crew has left a blemish on the game that is inherently unavoidable in our sphere, as Jerome Boger’s crew will inevitably be the talk of this game in the coming days.

While all errors in officiating technically have equal weight, there are some that took place in Foxboro on Sunday that definitely had some extra influence on the game’s final outcome. As a student of officiating, and as an official myself, the term “influence on the game’s final outcome” is something that no official, at any level, wants to be a part of. However, when it happens, it must be talked about. Several key misfires plagued the crew on Sunday, and we might as well start with the one that is being talked about most:

Patriots’ Harry did not step out of bounds prior to scoring

Patriots receiver N’Keal Harry stepped out of bounds at the 3-yard line prior to scoring a touchdown. Side judge Jonah Monroe initially had the possibility that Harry would have broken the plane of the goal line but suspected Harry stepped out of bounds and held back on a touchdown signal. Monroe requested confirmation from down judge Patrick Holt, who is responsible for watching the runner’s feet to see if they step out of bounds during a run. Boger said in a post-game interview with a pool reporter, Holt “was blocked out by defenders. [Monroe], who was on the goal line and looking back toward the field of play, had [Harry] out at the 3-yard line. So [Holt and Monroe] got together and conferred on that.”

“The final ruling was that he was out of bounds at the 3-yard line,” Boger said. “This case was unique in that the [official] who would have ruled touchdown had him short.”

The replays showed it: Harry did not step out of bounds. However, since New England was out of challenges at this point in the game, they were unable to challenge a call that likely would have been changed to a touchdown. (By rule, replay can reverse an out-of-bounds call to a first down or touchdown if the runner is given one more step beyond the out-of-bounds. Otherwise it is not reversable.) Since this was not a scoring play, it was not automatically reviewable, even if the result of the play would have turned the play into a scoring play.

[This entry was updated to include information from Boger’s pool report.]

Improper penalty enforcement for an offensive illegal use of hands

Incorrect penalty enforcements fall on the entire crew. No one may be talking about this play from midway through the third quarter, but it may be one of the biggest errors of the game. Chiefs offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was correctly penalized for an illegal use of hands foul, but instead of marking off a 10 yard penalty, the crew only penalized Kansas City five yards. Often, referees will misspeak over the microphone and give the wrong penalty yardage, but here, the 2nd and 10 turned into a 2nd and 15, when it should have been 2nd and 20.  

Any member of the crew is responsible for shutting the play down in this scenario to inform the referee of the enforcement error. Since this did not happen, all seven members of the crew will be held accountable for the improper penalty enforcement.

Quick whistle potentially costs New England a touchdown

An early whistle by a member of the crew nullified a fumble return by New England. While the play was correctly reversed in replay from down by contact to a fumble, the advance of the fumble is negated due to the whistle being blown. A similar play occurred in Los Angeles this year when a fumble return by the Saints was disregarded in replay following a quick whistle. We don’t know who blew the whistle, so it would be unfair to assume one member of the crew over another. In any event, this is actually more common than many New England fans will say it is, but it does hurt a team’s momentum to have a whistle possibly cost a team a touchdown return.

Marginal call for an illegal blindside block pushes Kansas City back

Chiefs offensive lineman Austin Reiter was flagged for an illegal blindside block early in the second quarter. New this season, all blindside blocks are now illegal, which is defined as a forcible block with the head, shoulder, or forearm which is delivered to an opponent while traveling toward the blocker’s own end line. While there has been an emphasis on this foul this season, this doesn’t seem to fall under the category of an illegal blindside block. While Reiter does block backwards toward his own end line, and initiates the block with his forearm, the contact was not at all forcible. The New England defender was actually able to push Reiter away during the block.

By the rule, and by the league’s interpretations, this may be an illegal blindside block. But, it was a marginal call, at best.

Miscall for offensive holding stalls Kansas City drive early

Referee Jerome Boger penalized Chiefs offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz for holding halfway through the first quarter. After looking back at the foul, there really was no restriction of Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy, as instead Van Noy’s pursuit may have appeared as though he was being held. Only one real angle of the holding foul is available at this time, and it is not the greatest angle, but this may have been a call where Boger wanted to keep his flag in his belt.

Sloppy take-back of a touchdown ruling

I saved this play for last because the ruling on the field was 100% correct. Umpire Carl Paganelli saved the crew here by overruling down judge Patrick Holt’s call of a touchdown on this play. The ball did indeed hit the ground, but there was a brief delay in overturning the call, which did not receive a supporting announcement to explain the change on the field. While the call was correct here, the mechanics that took play post-signal appeared to be sloppy, and the crew should have come together to make one cohesive call using all angles that were covered at each officiating position.

It is never easy to take this point of view against the crew following a game, but in a season where officiating has been at the forefront, the performance by Jerome Boger’s crew in this game definitely did not help the officials’ cause in the court of public opinion.

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Cameron Filipe
Cam Filipe is a forensic scientist from Massachusetts and has been involved in football officiating for 11 years. Cam is in his third season as a high school football official. This is his eighth season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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19 thoughts on “Boger’s crew with several misfires casts a shadow over Chiefs-Patriots clash

  1. Where’s the ridiculous DPI noncall on dorsett at the end of the game? Where’s the stupid 1st down challenge with a bonus OPI that the zebras decided to ignore?

  2. You missed the Dorsett mugging and the absurdly incorrect spot on the challenge to the Chief’s 1st down. They reviewed it and still gave the Chiefs an extra yard.

  3. The refs were pretty terrible all around. It’s incorrect to way that they robbed the Patriots of two touchdowns since it was a fumble and the following possession. More accurately, they robbed the Patriots of 1 touchdown twice. Though the quick whistle also meant that would-be tacklers also stopped. There was definitely pass interference on the call just before Brady’s big run.
    There were also a lot of non calls against the Patriots. Shoving Mahomes out of bounds, the “landing on Mahomes” that was overturned by the head ref, the hold on Schwartz where he clearly didn’t, etc. Neither team should be happy with the refs in this contest. This was one of the worst officiating jobs I’ve ever seen in the modern NFL. Patriot fans have a right to be upset. Chiefs fans are glad they won, but most are not pleased by how. Everything is tainted.

  4. If you all knew the vetting process, you would be shocked. Holt screwed up the Big Ten Title game in 2018 with a major miss of a hold on his keyed receiver at the end of the game because he was ball watching. If he was on his key he would have had a flag for DH which would have offset the OH call on the play, which would have allowed Wisconsin to stay in FG range and potentially win the game. But no. So what do the powers that be do? Reward this clown with the National Title game between Georgia and Bama. He had several major missed calls (blocked punt in first should have not occurred as there was a FST he missed; he missed a FMM; and at the end of the game on Bama’s winning TD score, he failed to call a FST that was huge. And they further award him with a job in the NFL. Week 2 he was in the incorrect position at end of game, Carolina had 4th and 1 at 2 in final minute. He failed to move off GL to the LTG one yard line, and missed McCafferty putting the ball past the tick mark for a first down. He ruled him short of the LTG and that was it for the Panthers. Now this fiasco tonight in NE. IW called back a Pats TD. Missed runner OOB which cost Pats a TD. Missed a huge DPI at end of game which would have given Pats a first down inside the ten and end of game. Just more terrible officiating by an NFL official who isn’t qualified to work a high school game. What a joke. Will there be discipline? Nope.

  5. The no-call on the Mahomes shove out of bounds was entirely correct; that was not a missed call. The contact was initiated in bounds, prior to Mahomes stepping out of bounds. That was not an error.

  6. “they were unable to challenge a call that likely would have been changed to a touchdown”
    That LIKELY would have been changed to a TD. NO, it WOULD have been changed to a TD because it was ABSOLUTELY CRYSTAL CLEAR that it WAS a TD

  7. This is the cultural the NFL is saying is acceptable every day that Al Riveron has a job.

    I don’t know Al Riveron personally, but the fact that he’s been consistently terrible at his job ever since he took over but doesn’t have the decency to resign says a lot about him, none of it good. He’d rather continue to ruin the NFL with his horrendous calls in the Replay Center. There are several calls he’s blown in the booth that a guy picked randomly off the street would get right.

    It’s a shame that Dean Blandino didn’t stick around to utilize the centralized replay center that I believe he designed. The NFL might actually be watchable today.

  8. The replay on Belichick’s first challenge WRT Watkins’ first-down reception clearly showed the ball was nearly a yard short of the line to gain, but the ball was spotted a yard PAST the marker. Belichick should have won that challenge. If he had won, he’d have had a challenge left for the N’Keal Harry TD/non-TD call.

    Another non-call was the Watkins-Gilmore incident. Replay clearly showed that, after the play was over, Watkins drove Gilmore OB several yards and to the ground and “landed” on top of Gilmore. This was not a “two-way fight” wherein both players should have been flagged/not flagged. Watkins was clearly the aggressor from start to finish, and should have been flagged for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.

    It seems reasonable to expect that the officiating in this game will be thoroughly scrutinized by the League Office this week, so there’s at least some possibility of a fine for Watkins’ behavior. Overall, I’m hoping that this Officiating crew’s performance in this game means that they’re now out of consideration for officiating any playoff games this year.

  9. And it’s not just the calls mentioned above and the missed PI and the terrible spot. At several times during the game play stalled as the officials first threw a flag and then picked it up.

    What’s particularly galling is that on both the fumble recovery and the TD, the officials could have triggered an automatic video replay, but chose not to. Time after time we see a possible turnover ruled as an actual turnover in order to let it be decided by replay. But this crew blew the play dead. Ditto for the TD.

  10. What’s the process for spot challenges – I understand that the challenge can’t be won if the down doesn’t change but could the failed challenge still result in the ball being re-spotted?

    I think everyone can agree the Watkins spot was incorrect. Had they moved it back to the 39 and deemed it a first (and lost challenge) would the ball have stayed at 39 or reverted to 40?

  11. Actually N’Keal Harry’s play should have resulted in a TD since the play was either a TD or he stepped out and it wasn’t. The NFL needs to instruct officials that if there’s any question on if a play scored they should automatcally review the call. They should have called it a score and reviewed whether it was or not. It’s just that simple and the idea is that you do what you must to get the call right and let the players decide the game, not the officials.

  12. You should be allowed unlimited challenges so long as you have a timeout remaining. While it doesn’t apply here, you can have two correct challenges and then be correct on your third but you get no more. If you’ve been correct on three challenges that crew is obviously having a bad day and you have no further recourse.

    As far as this game goes, now that Triplette is gone Boger is far and away the worst referee in the league. But they backdoored him into a Super Bowl anyway. Thing is, there are some fine officials on that crew and as noted above they made at least one “crew” error that all 7 will get dinged for. I guess everyone has bad days but this was atrocious.

  13. I don’t want officials defaulting to calling a play a specific way just to allow booth review because if it is a close play that will stand with whatever is called on the field (not the case here) you can hurt the defensive team by calling it a TD. What I would propose is that any play that would result in a scoring play or a turnover if overturned should be only by booth review.

  14. Both teams got screwed on the out of bounds play. There was also a clear clipping penalty by Edelman on Harry’s “touchdown” run. Should have been 1st and 20 at the 25 yard line for the Patriots.

  15. Such is life. For years them scumballs from new england thrived on games such as the one you speak of. They have cheated, bullied their way to NFL infamy. Maybe now the refs are no longer afraid of Tom the turds babyish rants or belicheats “reputation”. Payback is a bitch for a franchise of spoiled assholes.


  17. I’m not a particular fan of either team involved in this game so my opinion is impartial. The officiating was inexcusably bad. Sadly this is common this season despite the changes in both review rules. Simply put whoever’s doing these so called booth reviews are doing just about as badly at getting the calls right as the officiating team on the field. That doesn’t even count the bad calls that aren’t reviewable. It’s so bad that I am having a really hard time even enjoying football anymore.

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