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2020 Divisional Playoffs

5 officiating observations from the divisional playoffs

We saw some great officiating this past weekend.



The divisional playoff weekend featured two ho-hum games on Saturday and two intense games on Sunday.

No matter the game, all four crews did a very nice job. Here are some officiating observations from the divisional weekend.

1. Great to see Clay Martin

Clay Martin (Kansas City Chiefs)

Martin was hospitalized a few weeks ago after going on the NFL’s covid-19 list. He got out of the hospital after just a few days and was able to work the divisional playoffs. He called a great game in Kansas City and didn’t look any worse for the wear.

Look for Martin to be a playoff regular at the referee position in the coming seasons.

2. David Meslow had himself a game!

Meslow had several calls – any one of those calls could have been the call of the game.

He had a great fumble through the end zone call, offensive pass interference call, and an amazing catch call – all in real time.

On the fumble/touchback call, Meslow was responsible to the ball, goal line and side line. It wasn’t his responsibility to rule on the illegal use of the helmet foul.

This was Meslow’s second on field playoff game and his first since 2014. I’d say he had the game of his life!

3. Jerod Phillips with the call of the weekend

It takes several seasons of experience, games, film study and clinics to be ready to call a NFL playoff game. When the time comes, that experience comes to the forefront to make an outstanding call.

I still don’t know how Phillips got that spot right.

4. Two officials return to the playoffs

Meslow and back judge Greg Yette last worked a playoff game when Barack Obama was president. Meslow had his first playoff game since 2014 and Yette his first since 2012.

I’ve already raved about Meslow’s game, but I can also say that Yette had an excellent game.

5. First-timers had a great game too

Umpire Terry Killens (New Orleans Saints)

Ryan Dickson, Tripp Sutter, and Terry Killens had their first playoff games this weekend. All three did just fine.

Terry Killens continues to impress with his hustle and sense for the pro game. And why not? He’s a former NFL player.

Look for all three officials to work more playoff games in the coming years.

And, I think there might be a Super Bowl assignment in the offing for all three in the coming years.

The end in sight

Don’t look now, but there are three football games left. Look for conference championship and Super Bowl assignments to come out later this week.

It’s always an exciting, yet melancholy time of year for me as the best football is on the horizon, only for it to end so suddenly.

Stay safe and be on the lookout for the last three assignments!

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?"