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2019 Postseason

4 Wild Card observations, 2019 post-season

Some officiating takeaways from this weekend’s Wild Card action.



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It was another memorable Wild Card weekend with two games going to overtime and several officiating observations. Here are four that stuck out to me.

Alternates do more than spectate

Give a gold star to Mark Steinkerchner for saving the crew on that crazy kickoff situation in Texas. Tony Corrente needed some help in sorting out a surprise and Steinkerchner (maybe with the help of Al Riveron in New York) helped Corrente walk through the play.

Experienced crews in the Wild Card round

This weekend featured zero officials working their first on-field playoff assignment. This year’s Wild Card officials had an average of 16 years of experience. Shawn Smith worked his first playoff game as a referee, but he had three playoff assignments as an umpire. Alternates Alan Eck, Ryan Dickson, Mark Stewart and Don Willard each had an alternate assignment, but did not see the field. 

This is unusual. If Al Riveron is giving any first-time assignments this post-season, it will be in the divisional round next week.

Overtime ramps up the pressure

Two overtime games this weekend and the crews stepped up to the plate. The sudden-death aspect of overtime in the playoffs pushes the intensity off the charts.

The Cheffers and Corrente crews showed they were worthy of the assignment and kept their composure during the frantic extra frame. 

Fan abuse should never be tolerated

Carl Cheffers’ crew was subject to dangerous fan abuse as they left the field. Fans hurled trash at the officials (photo above). Thankfully no official was injured.

I hope Superdome security took a moment to look up at the stands to catch those who threw things at the officials.

And we wonder why there is a shortage of officials…

Another rule change almost sure to come up this offseason

It is unsportsmanlike conduct for a team to commit two delay of game fouls in order to bleed the clock. In the regular season, the New England Patriots found a loophole around the rule and committed a delay of game foul and a false start foul — allowing the clock to bleed off without the unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

Well, the Titans turned the tables on the Patriots this weekend and did the same thing. To top things off, after the false start the Patriots committed a neutral zone infraction foul, causing another several seconds to bleed off the clock.

It is almost certain that the NFL will change the rules this offseason to either include false starts as part of unsportsmanlike conduct, or a second consecutive foul will force the the clock to start on the snap.

Exciting games are always fun to officiate and I’m sure the crews enjoyed this weekend. Let’s see what the divisional round brings for NFL officiating.

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"