Jeff Triplette botches explanation of overtime rules

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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.

44 responses to “Jeff Triplette botches explanation of overtime rules

  1. NFL officiating gets worse every year they have cost alot of teams alot of games this year..Maybe the officials are suffering from a shortened offseason..The officiating in the 9ers Ravens game was atrocious against both teams while the ref kept telling both bros that was a good call youll see….

  2. Donovan McNabb thought Triplette’s explanation was fine, except that he forgot to mention the game would continue until one team scored.

  3. the refs have a really hard job where half the NFL nation hates them every week…. so I sympathize…

    that said if I screwed up like that my whole career… I wouldn’t have one

  4. It’s no secret that Triplette is a horrible referee. I have no idea how he has a job, I wouldn’t hire the guy to set pins at a bowling alley.

  5. I don’t know which is worse, An NFL ref that can’t explain overtime rules, CBS showing a 30 second clip of the Chargers kicker taking a leak on the sideline, or the announcer clown in the booth that thought the opening strains of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” was a laugh track/sound effect meant to poke fun at the ref’s botched explanation.

    That was pitiful 5 minutes.

  6. I don’t know which is worse, An NFL ref that can’t explain overtime rules, CBS showing a 30 second clip of the Chargers kicker taking a leak on the sideline, or the announcer clown in the booth that thought the opening strains of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” was a laugh track/sound effect meant to poke fun at the ref’s botched explanation.

    That was pitiful 5 minutes.

    This is an excellent explanation of what transpired

  7. Something about Mike Pereira just rubs me the wrong way. Officiating crews in the NFL are referees of the highest caliber. However, perfection is double edged sword. Moments of human error is doubly exaggerated. Let’s not forget that the NFL rulebook is just about as user friendly as a W2 form printed in webdings.

  8. I’ve complained for DECADES about the NFL being too cheap to hire fulltime officials. It is the only major sport to not have fulltime officials and yet the NFL makes more money than all the other sports combined. Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Bud Grant, Hank Stram and other great headcoaches were begging for full time refs back in the 60’s and 70’s. Even with instant replay, the officiating has been getting worse and worse.

  9. His ignorance MIGHT be forgivable had he botched the OT rule the other way, incorrectly stating reg OT rules during a playoff game. That would make some sense. But, my God, has the NFL even used the new rules yet?


  10. I just want Pereira to show me when holmes’ right toe touched down in the endzone when the beat the Cards in the superbowl…here’s a hint, It didn’t. Almost every replay they show to this day shows only his left toe touching. So the Steelers stole a Superbowl on a bad call. How does Mike feel about that?

  11. I like how when the Jets win, there’s no crazy Jets headlines but when the Jets lose, there are woe is me, blah blah blah crap. Can’t stand this site.

  12. they also screwed up several calls. Tebow’s facemask was jerked, Dj Williams did not rip that guy’s helmet off, let alone twist his head. and Decker’s catch looked like it hit the ground to me.

    I guess it all balances out, but it was still sloppy

  13. It boggles my mid that they haven’t made NFL officiating a full time position yet. These guys all go back to their day jobs when they should be spending the week practicing, just like the players.

  14. “Didn’t he also trip Joe Horn on a wide open deep route a while back?”

    No, that was Phil Luckett.

    Triplette is bad, has been for a long time. He shoulda been fired after blinding Orlando Brown.
    Triplette is the worst ref in the NFL and there isn’t a close second.
    I disagree. Jerome Boger, Alberto Riveron and John Parry can give him Triplette a run for his money.

  15. Had a migraine, fell asleep, and woke up just as Triplette was offering his explanation. Thought I’d gone through the looking glass until the announcers chimed in.

    Incidents like this get a lot of attention, but similar officiating screw-ups happen in every game. Everyone makes mistakes. But the frequency and severity of these blunders are an embarrassment to the league. Instead of constantly hammering on players, Goodell needs to start cleaning up his own backyard.

  16. Brees is still better than Rivers, and from what we’ve seen so far this season, it looks like a rag-armed quitter and bible-thumping option quarterback are as well. The dysfunction is all yours, Charger fan. Cherish it. Your team officially sucks.

  17. I think we’re being too hard on refs. They have to make extremely difficult calls in real time in a split second while trying not to get killed by guys that are three times their size – all while dealing with the gravity of the game and where an unpopular call might just get 70k people upset at you.

    Compounding the problem is that we now see their mistakes more often with HD, multiple camera angles, super slow mo all broadcast over the jumbotron and to your living room at home.

    Think about a sideline catch for example. Not only do they have to see if the receiver has BOTH feet down, but they have to make sure the receiver has possession and continues possession until they hit the ground in a split second real time. Not easy. My guess is that most of the second-guessing arm-chair refs wouldn’t be able to do their job nearly as well as they do – I know I couldnt.

  18. “That’s not true. That’s the rule for the playoffs….”

    I don’t know what’s worse….the ref not knowing the rule, or the one who’s paid to write about the game and who has time to research the rule still getting it wrong.

  19. @jrmbadger …

    No one is talking about a ref being able to see the action in a nanosecond. Triplett was misquoting the rules. Last year, Mike Carey–a 20-year ref–announced there was no foul on a play, then ordered them to replay the down. What?? Those are two of many, many examples. These aren’t issues of HD or multiple angles. This is about the refs knowing the rules. The issues of HD and multiple angles could be addressed with a replay system similar to the NCAA’s. But whether or not the officials actually know the rules is about having a sane, manageable rulebook and proper training.

  20. I myself am starting to wonder if the NFL isn’t “fixed.”

    The referees..Boger and company…swung the momentum in the Philly vs. Pats game with two missed calls….blatant missed calls…

    Vince Young, he plays the QB position…was dragged down by his facemask….no call, A QB! IN THE POCKET!

    Plain as day.

    After the Pats punt….VY throws deep down the sideline to D-Jax…he had a bad day…the Pat defender pushes the WR to the ground, turns around and intercepts the pass…

    Plain as day.

    Momentum swung…game over.

    Deardorf…he’s awful…was like “Well…Eagle fans are probably at home wondering “what’s going on here?”

    Go Eagles…


  21. Before I am flamed…

    Only the momentum was altered…though that is a BIG deal…

    The Eagles didn’t come to play…and did not deserve to win.

  22. @ omegaichiban

    Sports Illustrated had two seperate shots, each clearly showing both feet inbounds. Sorry.

  23. @Deb
    His mistake was a human mistake. Big deal. People need to get over it. As a society we expect perfection WAY too often and are incredulous when people act human (which is to make a mistake).

    I was also addressing more the comments by posters who were criticizing Trippellete and the reffing lately (saying it’s the worst its ever been) – and not necessarily his blowing of the overtime explanation. I mean how many times have people on here whined about this call or that call that didn’t go their way?

  24. It’s not even accurate for the playoffs. If the first team that gets the ball scores a touchdown, the game is over. It’s only if the team scores a field goal does the game continue.

  25. @jrmbadger …

    Agree with you on the human question. The game moves much faster than it did 20 years ago, and they can’t see everything. That’s why I support a review system like the NCAA’s. My issue isn’t with refs like Triplette but with the process.

    The Competition Committee changes the rules constantly, but they expect these guys to keep track of everything despite working full-time jobs and not having proper time to train as a crew. I think the system is broken. In this case, it was just a little embarrassing. But often mistakes impact game outcomes, and the officials take the heat when the NFL is to blame for not addressing some of these issues.

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