Veteran referee Pete Morelli drew the assignment for this week’s Bengals-Steelers matchup, and his boss has told him to be ready.
Via ESPN’s Adam Caplan, NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino has made a special point to Morelli and his crew to stay on top of things lest they turn ugly like previous matchups between the AFC North rivals. The last two games between the teams have resulted in more than $200,000 in fines.
“Before every game we provide the crew with a scouting report [along with video clips] for the two teams,” Blandino said. “If there is a history between two teams, or players, that could lead to issues like we had last year then we include it in the report.
“The issues that came up last year will be covered with the crew for this game. All crews are directed to set the tone early in games so the players understand where the line is, and that should be consistent for all games, but just based on the history there will be a heightened awareness for this one.”
While Morelli is a veteran, his crew has seen things get out of hand in different ways. His crew last year was broken up after mistakes in a number of games, including giving the Lions a timeout they didn’t have against the Saints, losing 18 seconds in a Steelers-Chargers game, missing what would have been a game-ending false start in Jaguars-Ravens and losing track of downs in a Cardinals-49ers game. Those mistakes cost them a Sunday Night Football assignment.
His new crew is an experienced one, with all but one member with at least 14 years of experience.