Overtime of the Broncos’ victory in San Diego today got started with referee Jeff Triplette explaining the rules — and getting them wrong.
As Triplette presided over the overtime coin flip, he went over the rules of overtime for the teams’ captains, and the millions of people watching at home. But after correctly noting that fourth-quarter timing was in effect and all replay reviews would be called down from upstairs rather than allowing coaches to challenge, Triplette wrongly said that both teams were guaranteed a possession.
“Each team must have an opportunity to possess the football and score,” Triplette said.
That’s not true. That’s the rule for the playoffs, but in the regular season it’s simple sudden death: The first team to score wins.
Triplette apparently later turned on his microphone and corrected his mistake for the audience in the stadium, and it’s not like this mistake had any bearing on who won the game. So maybe I’m nitpicking by even pointing this out.
But it’s Triplette’s job to know the rules, and to correctly explain the rules. And he didn’t do his job. And Triplette has had a whole lot of mistakes in his career, from hitting Orlando Brown in the eye with a weighted-down penalty flag, to stopping a play prematurely because Peyton Manning faked him out with a fake spike, to a replay ruling in 2009 that had Triplette’s then-boss, Mike Pereira, saying he was “shocked” that Triplette didn’t know the rule.
Being an NFL referee is a difficult job. Today’s mixup in San Diego is just the latest indication that Triplette may not be up to the job.