NFL blames clock operator for timing error in Steelers' win over San Diego

Stopwatch

The NFL blamed the clock operator for an unusual run-off of 18 seconds near the end of Pittsburgh’s 24-20 win over San Diego, the second straight refereeing error to dog Monday Night Football.

The incident occurred after a touchback as the Steelers gained possession for their game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. NFL rules say the clock should not have started because the receiving team possessed the ball in the end zone without taking it onto the field of play.

The clock continued to run, however, and when the Steelers huddled, the clock showed 2:38 remaining instead of 2:56, as it should have. The Steelers scored on their final play from scrimmage, so the outcome of the game was not directly affected, but the league will be alarmed at another error, after the missed penalty late in the Seattle-Detroit game last week.

The performance of those responsible will be reviewed, according to league spokesman Michael Signora.

“The official game time is kept on the stadium scoreboard, but it is the responsibility of the side judge to supervise the timing of the game. Had the side judge or any of the other six on-field officials noticed the timing error, they could have corrected it,” Signora said in a statement.

“The game clock is not subject to instant replay review unless there is a timing issue on the last play of the first half or the last play of the game. The performance of the clock operator and game officials will be reviewed per the standard procedure for reviewing every play of every game.”

Official game time is kept on the stadium scoreboard, which is operated by a league-hired local resident who usually has college football officiating experience.

But in a statement, the league confirmed that side judge Rob Vernatchi was responsible for supervising game timing. Vernatchi or any other member of referee Pete Morelli’s crew could have corrected the error if they had noticed it.

Last Monday, NFL admitted it missed an illegal bat penalty against KJ Wright that would have given the Lions possession of the ball at the Seahawks’ one-yard line late in the fourth quarter. The call was not made, and Seattle ran down the clock to win 13-10.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 13th October 2015 19.32 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010