NFL directs officials to watch for unnecessary roughness in playoffs

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said Friday that unnecessary roughness and downfield contact will be points of emphasis for referees during the playoffs.

"Obviously, player safety is a top priority and we're going to look at these types of hits and make sure the officials are on top of this type of action, " Blandino said during his weekly officiating video for the media.

As an example, Blandino showed a blindside block by Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon last Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys after quarterback Robert Griffin III had rushed for a touchdown.

"That hit occurs after the play had ended, so this is a foul for unnecessary roughness" said Blandino, adding that this hit led to a skirmish between the teams. "The officials are going to be directed to stay on top of this. We do not want these games to get out of control.

"The direction is that we will set the tone early. If we have any act that is either unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct, we're going to flag those acts. We're going to get the instigator and we're not going to offset unless we absolutely have to. The players, coaches, everybody understands that these games, we're not going to let them get out of control."

He said players and coaches understand that 15-yard penalties in the playoffs could be game-changing events.

"We don't expect any of this stuff, but obviously we've got to be prepared for it," he said. "We've got to be able to set the tone early in all of these games."

Blandino also said the referees will continue to look for downfield infractions, including illegal contact after 5 yards, defensive holding and offensive pass interference.

"The direction is we're going to officiate those areas the same way we've officiated them for 17 weeks of the regular season," he said.

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