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NFL says clock operator in Detroit made mistake late in Rams’ loss

St Louis Rams v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The play clock was mistakenly stopped when it should have continued running just before the two-minute warning of Sunday’s Rams-Lions game, but the NFL says the mistake was by the clock operator at Ford Field, not by the replacement officials.

It was a mistake by the clock operator,” a league spokesman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He stopped the clock incorrectly. The officials did not signal for it to stop.”

The confusion started when Rams quarterback Sam Bradford ran for three yards and then slid out of bounds at the Lions’ 28-yard line with 2:38 left in the fourth quarter. Line judge Shannon Eastin correctly signaled that the clock should keep running because Bradford had gone down in bounds before his slide carried him out of bounds, but the clock operator mistakenly stopped the clock for a few seconds before re-starting it. While the game clock was stopped, the play clock kept running, and as a result the Rams had to call timeout before the two-minute warning, rather than letting the clock run all the way down to the two-minute warning.

After that timeout Bradford threw an incomplete pass on the last play before the two-minute warning, but Fisher said that if they had been allowed to run the clock all the way down to the two-minute warning, he would have called a run on the next play to force the Lions to use their last timeout. Fisher was clear, however, that the mistake was made by the clock operator — who is hired by the league and is not part of the officials’ union and therefore not affected by the officials’ lockout — rather than by Eastin.

“Miss Eastin came to her spot, she kept the play running,” Fisher said.

Still, the call was wrong, and while the clock operator is to blame, a more experienced head referee might have noticed the clock operator’s mistake and corrected it immediately. The replacement referee who worked the Rams-Lions game, Donovan Briggans, didn’t make this mistake. But he didn’t fix it either.

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31 Responses to “NFL says clock operator in Detroit made mistake late in Rams’ loss”
  1. voiceofreasonsays says: Sep 10, 2012 8:21 PM

    RGIII is much better than the pick machine Stafford and won’t give the Rams any hope to do anything. Redskins 45 Rams 13.

  2. onebucplace says: Sep 10, 2012 8:23 PM

    I remember in 2010 when the regular refs said that Kellen Winslow pushed off on a touch down he caught near the end of a game vs Detroit. He was called for defensive pass interference, because of this the Bucs lost the game, because of this Green Bay was put into the playoffs and went on to win the Super Bowl. Later in the week after the call the Bucs got a letter from the NFL saying the ref made a bad call, it wasn’t offensive interference — in turn the Bucs should have been in the playoffs and Green Bay would have been out and would have not won the Super Bowl.

    But hey it was a union slob referee so why bother to make a big deal about it.

    I hope the refs stay locked out, any idiot can blow a call, why pay more?

  3. thetokyosandblaster says: Sep 10, 2012 8:29 PM

    so the Lions should have lost?

    Unreal.

    Now we have to listen to their fans who are claiming to be so much better than the Packers, when they should have lost to the lowly Rams.

  4. txxxchief says: Sep 10, 2012 8:30 PM

    Maybe the league should get some replacement clock operators now. They must be proud members of their own union. Everyone knows that clocks don’t run accurately when a union is involved.

  5. thestrategyexpert says: Sep 10, 2012 8:32 PM

    This is only an error because the commentators didn’t pick up on it either because they also suck at their jobs. But the clock running was correct, and actually the referees are the ones who made the error because they failed to signal that the clock should be running. The QB slid feet first but he initiated his slide while inbounds, which means he voluntarily went down IN THE FIELD OF PLAY, and at the moment he STARTS the slide, the play is over. He started the play inbounds, and that should keep the clock running.

  6. supermariojosh says: Sep 10, 2012 8:36 PM

    in turn the Bucs should have been in the playoffs and Green Bay would have been out and would have not won the Super Bowl.
    ———————-
    Yeah and the Packers lost to the Dolphins earlier in the year on a bogus drive extending illegal formation wrong call. Had they won there, the Bucs would’ve already been eliminated. How many times do I need to say “bad calls even out in the end?”

  7. stayclassyasheville says: Sep 10, 2012 8:38 PM

    The current refs are doing just fine in my humble opinion. Maybe they should stay! Watch any football game down to high school level & calls get missed. Big deal. I like the pace of these games without the ticky tacky calls. Jerry Reece says Boldin “didn’t complete the act of a catch” in the MNF game. Nice solidarity but I don’t miss the microsecond critique & rule book legalese excuses for common plays.

  8. lks311 says: Sep 10, 2012 8:45 PM

    Witch Hunt…

    Stafford and the Lions never had as much as even a 3rd Down situation on their last TWO DRIVES. He had figured St. Louis out by this point. What makes anyone think the Rams would have stopped them, regardless of the time left?

  9. eyesofdisarray says: Sep 10, 2012 8:45 PM

    “so the Lions should have lost?

    Unreal.

    Now we have to listen to their fans who are claiming to be so much better than the Packers, when they should have lost to the lowly Rams.”

    Ummm where does it say the Lions should have lost? Just because STL would have ran a different play doesn’t mean they would have won the game.

  10. rexryanschoolofpodiatry says: Sep 10, 2012 9:07 PM

    It wouldn’t have mattered. Lions would still have gotten the ball back with around 1:30 left if STL didn’t get the first down…which they didn’t. Probably was best that they tried to throw for it because the Lions had Jackson bottled up all game.

  11. thestrategyexpert says: Sep 10, 2012 9:09 PM

    That play had no real bearing on the outcome. There were several referee mistakes in that game that did affect key plays. Those should be talked about but the reporters and analysts are not paying attention since I see no high level dissection of the game and analysis of the things that should be reviewed from that game. There just isn’t oversight from the league on this and a heavy enough of a concern to figure out where the officials are needing the most help right now.

  12. tdurdenlives says: Sep 10, 2012 9:16 PM

    It’s not the ref’s job to make sure the clock operator does his job. It’s great if he catches it, but it’s not his responsibility. Don’t give the replacement ref any flak for this.

  13. formyministy says: Sep 10, 2012 9:16 PM

    Anyone have video of Bradford sliding? I’d like to see for myself if he went out of bounds. Something about the way this site deletes posts for no discernable reason makes me not trust them.
    How about it, pft? I saw the play in real time and thought the entire “slide” beginning to end was out of bounds.

  14. bleedgreen says: Sep 10, 2012 9:22 PM

    So the CLOCK OPERATOR messed up, and its still the ref’s fault? Are they also to blame for global warming, the housing collapse and the Rwandan genocide?

    I don’t know if this is a directive given to you buy NBC or what, but the replacement refs are NO WORSE than the regular refs, regardless of what you seem to think. In fact, I think they’re calling a BETTER game than the regular refs. They’re actually calling holding when there’s blatant holding.

  15. showmeram says: Sep 10, 2012 9:31 PM

    Good teams get lucky, something will go their way to help them win games. Lions are a good team and they are getting lucky so watch out Packers and Bears. As for my Rams – I am very excited for this season and hopefully the luck will turn our way next time…

  16. funktron2x says: Sep 10, 2012 10:16 PM

    Lol. RGIII much better than Stafford. Packers fans doing anything they can to deflect their 0-1 start. Yep. Week 1 Silly Week Mania is in fullllllll swing!

  17. lionsdraftguy says: Sep 10, 2012 10:22 PM

    VoiceOfReason-

    Are you serious? APPARENTLY, you do NOT watch the NFL. At all. And if you do, you have ZERO knowledge of the game.

    RGIII is going to be a great QB, but because Stafford threw 3 picks, you think hes better than Stafford? Give me a break.

    Do you remember last year, or were you still in 3rd grade and not allowed to watch football?

    Stafford had 5,038 yards, 41 TDs, 16 INTs. Those are awesome numbers.

    Learn the game before commenting stupid stuff like that. Anyone will tell you Stafford is most likely a top 5 or 6 QB in the game.

  18. philliesblow says: Sep 10, 2012 10:39 PM

    I always wondered what ever happened to Spartan Bob. Guess he’s working at Ford Field now.

  19. dragonrider2300 says: Sep 10, 2012 10:39 PM

    This loss was more about the Rams failing to finish the game on both sides of the ball than a clock operator error. The clock error notwithstanding, the Rams failed to gain an additional first down at the end of the game, which would have easily allowed them to run out the clock and kick a chip-shot field goal to win.

    The Rams failed to play any defense at all on the Lion’s last drive for the winning TD. The Rams also failed to adjust defensively in the 2nd half, when Stafford was suddenly completing passes all over the place. Too many times, the Rams only rushed three linemen, and Stafford still found open guys.

  20. bobhk says: Sep 10, 2012 11:35 PM

    Witch Hunt…

    Stafford and the Lions never had as much as even a 3rd Down situation on their last TWO DRIVES. He had figured St. Louis out by this point. What makes anyone think the Rams would have stopped them, regardless of the time left?
    ——
    These are the lions fans that have been whining about the extra 5 yards the niners got when they beat them in Detroit. Now it’s ok with them that they got extra time.
    What makes you think that niners would not have beat them anyway.

    After dominating the pack I say that the lions better watch out.
    I think it will be a good game.

  21. pappavike says: Sep 11, 2012 12:01 AM

    Bad calls are always made no matter who the refs are! The real question should be why did the all powerful Lions have such a hard time beating the Rams? What was the point spread?

  22. warrenpeacephotography says: Sep 11, 2012 12:04 AM

    onebucplace says: “the Bucs should have been in the playoffs and Green Bay would have been out”
    ———————-

    That story is awesome! It reminds me of the Buccaneer’s 2005 game against the Redskins in week 10. The Bucs scored a touchdown with less than a minute left to make the score Bucs 34 Skins 35. On the two-point conversion, Mike Alstott was tackled short of the goal line, but the refs gave him the 2 points anyway. The Bucs won 36-35, and if the Redskins had won that game, they would have won their division and earned a first-round bye in the playoffs.

    Fortunately, the Redskins beat the Bucs in the wild-card round that year, but with a bye and at least one home playoff game, the Skins would have had a legitimate chance to win the super bowl that year, or at least put up a better showing than the Bears did.

    So overall, I’d say the Bucs are even. One year a bad call in one of their games kept the Redskins out of the super bowl, another year a bad call in one of their games allowed the Packers to win it.

  23. justinaimshigh says: Sep 11, 2012 12:06 AM

    “Ummm where does it say the Lions should have lost? Just because STL would have ran a different play doesn’t mean they would have won the game.”

    They would have run the ball forcing the Lions to use their final timeout or watching the clock burn to 1:20 and change.

    Either way the game winning TD pass to Smith with 10 seconds left would not have happened.

  24. pobreezy says: Sep 11, 2012 12:22 AM

    Penalties should be challengable. That would end this ongoing argument. Might even make the refs more consistent if they knew their calls weren’t set in stone.

  25. iced107 says: Sep 11, 2012 12:30 AM

    The sad thing is this was one of the many terrible mistakes the refs made..

    can’t tell ya how many times I saw a rear naked chokes on quinn/long and the blatant off sides on the lions that clearly crossed the neutral zone but yet was ruled false start.

    Refs were garbage this game – even cortlend finnegan got away with a possible PI

  26. squared80 says: Sep 11, 2012 2:11 AM

    More shenanigans in Detroit from Schwartz & Co.? So hard to believe…

  27. cwhat32 says: Sep 11, 2012 9:14 AM

    That was a bad call to begin with. Bradford rolled to the side and slid halfway in bounds with his lower body out of bounds, and the ref called him in bounds.

  28. purpleguy says: Sep 11, 2012 10:44 AM

    Come on, the Lions got screwed by that end zone call on megatron last year — give them this one.

  29. justinaimshigh says: Sep 11, 2012 11:03 AM

    “cwhat32 says:
    Sep 11, 2012 9:14 AM

    That was a bad call to begin with. Bradford rolled to the side and slid halfway in bounds with his lower body out of bounds, and the ref called him in bounds.”

    QB is ruled down where he begins his slide. Rationalize it anyway you want. The outcome of the game was decided by the clock operator and the refs. It sucks for St. Louis, but it happened.

  30. achamarro1 says: Sep 11, 2012 6:44 PM

    I did notice this but i still believe stafford wouldve got it done. Fisher had that team “coached up” big time. Fisher had more time to prepare and he prepared very well for this game. He didn’t change anything and stafford dod what good (cusp of elite) qbs do they adjust and get it going. 355 yds isnt shutting him down tbe rams made great plays to intercept those passes cuz there coach had them in the right spots to do get it done. 9ers are gonna gve my leos a hell of a time but my trust in stafford is still high

  31. crashlion says: Sep 11, 2012 8:02 PM

    lol….

    So Stafford throws three picks, and is immediately below RGIII.

    Tom Brady threw four picks in a game against Buffalo last year, so I guess that means he’s behind both of them?

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