By Bill Bradley, contributing editor
NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said Tuesday that the referees who made critical errors during the Kansas City Chiefs-San Diego Chargersgame might miss coveted postseason assignments because of the mistakes.
"Officials are evaluated just like players are, and this type of a mistake sticks with this official," Blandino said during his weekly "Official Review" segment during "NFL Total Access." "It will affect any potential postseason assignment, so we take all these things into consideration."
The plays in question involved the referees missing a line-overload violation on a game-deciding field goal and the Chargers' fake punt and ensuing fumble.
On the field-goal attempt in the waning seconds of regulation, Chiefs placekicker Ryan Succop missed from 41 yards, but the Chargers lined up with eight players on the right side of their line. The line-overload rule, passed last March for player safety, allows no more than six players on any side of the center. Blandino said Succop should have received a second attempt.
"You have two officials that are responsible for the line of scrimmage," Blandino said. "You have the umpire, who is going to be watching the center, making sure that nobody covers him and nobody hit him in violation of the defenseless player protection. And then you have the side judge, who is normally a deep-wing official -- and he's responsible for the overload side, and his big responsibility pre-snap is to make sure we don't have more than six on one side of the center.
"We obviously didn't do that. We should have had a flag here. It would've been a 5-yard penalty that would have given Kansas City another opportunity to kick a field goal."
As for the fake punt by San Diego's Eric Weddle during overtime, the referees said they whistled the play dead before the Chiefs picked up the fumble, which was returned for a touchdown.
"One of the first issues we had is that the referee did make an announcement that forward progress was ruled, that didn't come out over the network telecast. (Weddle) gets hit in the pile, and at this point ... the head linesman comes in. He is ruling forward progress. He is saying Weddle's progress was stopped at the 30-yard line. So anything that happens after that is not reviewable.
"It's basically dead-ball action. The play is over at this point. The only thing replay can look at is where is the ball in relation to the 30-yard line at this point when he is stopped. In hindsight, replay should have stopped the game to look at that aspect of it. It wouldn't have changed the call on the field, you wouldn't have been able to determine that the ball was short. But I think it would have cleared up some of the confusion that happened based on the ruling on the field."