Sky judge could have fixed phantom facemask foul that fueled Chiefs’ game-winning drive

New York Giants v Kansas City Chiefs
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Eventually, the NFL will do the right thing when it comes to assisting its on-field officials. The sooner the NFL does it, the better off the NFL will be.

The right thing to do is to embrace sky judge. Or booth umpire. Or whatever name the league chooses to apply to the use of a video official who actively assists the on-field officials in all aspects of officiating.

The absence of the ability to mesh what the officials see with the naked eye while trying to avoid being trampled by the players with what the rest of us see at home allowed a bad call to go unrectified on Monday night, fueling what became the game-winning drive for the Chiefs. With the Chiefs facing second and 15 from their own 24 with 4:22 to play, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes found tight end Travis Kelce for a catch and run that put the ball at the 38. The officials thought they saw Kelce’s facemask get yanked, a flag came out, and the Chiefs ended up 15 yards closer, with a first and 10 at the New York 47.

The only problem is that no one had touched Kelce’s facemask.

If the NFL had a procedure in place to allow a member of the officiating crew who sits in the booth and sees the various available camera angles to assist the folks on the field, the flag would have been picked up, and the Chiefs would have faced third and short from their own 38. While the Chiefs may have converted and continued and ultimately scored, an unwarranted gift in the amount of 15 percent of the 100-yard gridiron made it a lot easier to accelerate the process of scoring the field goal that put the Chiefs ahead for good.

It’s an inexcusable situation, regardless of the league’s effort to excuse the failure to embrace the concept of supplemental officiating via images that are piped into millions of homes, and onto millions of phones. They’ll say it’s too expensive, at a time when the owners are paying their pin cushion $64 million per year. They’ll say that there may be “unintended consequences,” which is code for, “We can’t be counted on to not screw up the design or the execution. I mean, look at what happened when we tried to make pass interference reviewable by replay.”

Whatever the precise parameters of the powers of a sky judge (the league would say that it doesn’t want the sky judge to have the power to call holding away from the play, for example), the sky judge would be able to speak to the referee, and to tell the referee to pick up the flag.

As the Ravens explained when proposing a full-blown booth umpire earlier this year, it’s just a matter of time before it’s adopted, so why not do it now? If the league had done it, the phantom facemask foul that gave the Chiefs a free 15 yards with the game on the line would have been fixed, quickly, cleanly, and efficiently.

The integrity of the game depends on it. The integrity of the wagers placed through the seven sportsbooks that are now official partners of the NFL depends on it. With Congress already pestering the NFL over its handling of the Washington Football Team investigation, it’s just a matter of time before Congress pursues the league over the readily fixable officiating flaws that affect the outcome of games — and that, more importantly, impact the outcome of betting on games.

The sooner the league makes spending the time and effort on addressing this problem a major priority, the better off the game will be. The only question is whether they do it before or after a sufficiently large scandal results in members of Congress sending another letter to the Commissioner with a variety of questions that the league would prefer not to answer in a public setting, with no ability to rush the microphone to someone who would hopefully change the subject.

16 responses to “Sky judge could have fixed phantom facemask foul that fueled Chiefs’ game-winning drive

  1. The refs went blind 2 weeks ago in overtime up in new England now their making up phantom facemask penalties🤔

  2. There is a lot of examples that this could be used for. I don’t blame the refs much because they’ve gotta watch 22 giant dudes try and take each others limbs off. There’s no consistency whatsoever. PI is a crap shoot. Sometimes they call it sometimes they don’t. On replays, there is holding on every play but sometimes one gets seen. Now that you’ve introduced gambling, the NFL needs to figure this out. As a fan it sucks to watch your team get called then not 5 minutes later the almost identical play is not called. Just figure your ish out NFL

  3. For once I agree with Florio 100%.

    The fix in the NFL has been going on for years. Witness the non call of the blatant pass interference in the Rams-Saints NFC Championship Game several years ago. The Rams went to the SB – just Ike the big boys wanted. The Ravens- Detroit game this year is another example. I could go on and on, but what’s the use?

    Nothing will change until it costs the big boys substantial sums or until a do nothing Congress wakes up from its perpetual ineptness.

  4. It could have helped,but the NFL won’t stand for it. How will they be able to help certain teams with correct calls

  5. The head coach should be able to challenge every play..until he loses two. He shouldn’t be capped by a set number..wondering if he should challenge a horrendous first quarter play or save it for one coming later. After two lost challenges ..he wouldn’t be able to challenge anymore

  6. Most games but this week these 2 games, jet/bengal game and this one, officiating has been at a all time low. In other words they are awful!!!
    The officials lack of officiating and more of determining the outcome of a games is at a all time high. Time to get the booth involved. Maybe the game takes longer but at least they will get it right.

  7. 100% agree. Fix these phantom calls, it is truly ruining the game. Why would anyone in St. Louis want an expansion team now? To watch laundry get thrown around the yard for three hours on make believe personal fouls & penalties? Maybe St. Louis could luck out and have some miracle billionaire owner actually pay for the thing as well – goooood luck!

  8. Sure makes it seem like they are picking winners or affecting the betting outcome of games. With legal gambling this is an even worse look for the game. I can’t beleive the calls and non-calls lately for what on TV look like very easy things to see.

  9. The HOW is clear. The WHY has never been clear. The league simply doesn’t think a sky judge is in their best interest. How could one argue otherwise?

  10. Oh, please. The officials are having problems using replay to get the right call made as it is now. You want to add more work to them? The problem last night was the continued employment of the incompetent Jerome Boogers – a man who invents calls on a regular basis that cannot be supported by even special effects from Hollywood.

  11. Clearly that was not a face mask, but that is just a make up call for the two phantom calls they made up against the chiefs for a helmet to helmet hit, and pass interference right before that.

  12. It could easily be fixed so why isn’t it? The NFL is run by a bunch of clowns in New York who care more about how big their paycheck is instead of the integrity of the game.

  13. Phantom call = fixed games especially now that the NFL (soon to be like wrestling with scripts for the players, refs and coaches) office is tied into several on-field refs radios.

  14. Yeah, it was a bad call but it wasn’t decisive like the game-ending Bengal-Jets missed call. Kelce had already gotten the first down yardage at that point; the call just added another 15 yards. Butker probably would have kicked the subsequent field goal from another 15 yards back anyway.

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