When Blakeman made his announcement, Marinucci contacted the clock operator’s booth from a sideline phone. According to a statement by the league, “Marinucci … spoke directly to the clock operator from the sideline phone and was told that there was no issue with the game clock.” In a roundabout way, there was not a clock malfunction, but a case of slippery fingers on the operator. But the clock operator did have a duty to indicate that the clock ran during a stoppage, even if he had no idea what the correct time should be. The replay official cannot intervene in clock matters, except that if a play is already under replay review, a reversal will result in the clock being set to the time that applies to the new ruling.
Although it had little competitive impact on the game, happening well before time is a factor, the timing of the game is one of the basic bookkeeping duties of the game. A league spokesman said, “the clock procedures will be carefully reviewed this week with all game officials and clock operators to avoid further clock mistakes.”
Later in the same game, near the conclusion of overtime, the Rams got a first down with the clock running. At some point between the conclusion of that play and the snap of the next play, the ball was not correctly spotted. Coach Jeff Fisher, who was gesturing wildly to spike the ball to stop the clock, was not sure why the ball was in the wrong spot. “I haven’t talked to [the league] about that whether somebody kicked it or what happened.”
Whatever caused it, the Rams essentially were hit with a 10-second runoff, because they could not properly line up to stop the clock.
Even though they generally avoid contact through the game, it is still surprising that officials are not injured too often. The youngest officials are older than most, if not all, of the oldest players, and many senior officials are in their mid-60s. Despite that, they are able to stay stride-for-stride with players almost two generations removed. Contrast that to their replacement counterparts that worked during the union officials’ labor dispute at the beginning of the season. Despite the fact that the replacement crews were made up of many younger recruits, many seemed to struggle to keep up the pace of the game.
(Also contrast that to yours truly who grumbles about the stairs that are between the couch and the refrigerator.)
Two officials will be on injury leave this week: Head linesman Greg Hayward injured his calf during the Bills-Patriots game and had to leave in the third quarter. (There are no alternates in the regular season, so only six officials completed the game.) Also, back judge Kirk Dornan was being taped up for an injury on the Bengals sideline last week, but finished the game. Hayward is in his 22nd season, Dornan his 19th. Both are replaced on their crews in Week 11 with officials that were scheduled to have the week off.
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Ben Austro is the founder and editor of FootballZebras.com
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