Referee Ron Torbert caused the clock error last night

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
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After last night’s AFC Championship, referee Ron Torbert created the impression that the crazy do-over in the fourth quarter resulted from an official trying to rectify an error by the clock operator.

The truth is that the error was made by Torbert.

Prior to third-and-nine 1.0, the action stopped because the ball had been placed in the wrong spot following an incomplete pass on second and nine.

After the ball was moved, Torbert activated his microphone and said this: “Please reset the play clock to 10 seconds, 1o seconds please. The play clock and game clock will start on my signal.”

And so, on his signal, the play clock and game clock started.

The field judge, stationed deep behind the secondary, noticed the clock was moving when it shouldn’t be, and he tried to shut the action down after the play started. No one heard a whistle and no one pulled up before the play ended.

That’s when the officials huddled, with Torbert eventually deciding that the play had been shut down and that there would be another third and nine.

And when Torbert explained it this time, he was careful to say, “We will start the play clock on my signal, game clock will start on the snap.”

So it was Torbert’s fault in the first place, not the clock operator’s. The clock operator simply did what the referee instructed the clock operator to do.

The situation demonstrates how important precision and specificity is when it comes to the things a referee said. It also suggests that the clock operator should have a way to talk directly to the referee, in the event that the clock operator believes the referee has given an erroneous instruction.

In this case, Torbert clearly said “the play clock and game clock will start on my signal.” The clock operator clearly complied. That entire mess clearly is on Torbert.

42 responses to “Referee Ron Torbert caused the clock error last night

  1. The ref was running in to stop the play…. It’s out there for any of you reality deniers want to see it. Facts over feelings! Who Dey? Dey not playing anymore…

  2. The officials had an absolutely embarrassing and atrocious weekend. I say that as an Eagles fan whose team benefited somewhat from their incompetence. It certainly wasn’t the difference in our game, but it might have been the difference in the other.

    My perception of the officiating this year has been that it started off pretty good and went downhill. Within a few weeks, finally spiraling down the drain. not only are there unforgivable mistakes made but the entire operation is a clown show. The broken chain in the Eagles Giants game? It was put back together with masking tape? Can’t figure out what a first down is. Can’t fix obvious mistakes, despite ultra high definition replay because some plays “aren’t reviewable.” Refs who don’t know the rules. On top of all of it, no one is allowed to criticize the officials when they do a horrible job. They are to be beatified at all times.

  3. The money on the Bengals flatlined on the extra play. Then a priest called on the Apple hold.

  4. Watching the replay it really looked like an incredibly half-hearted effort by the field judge to stop play. He blew the whistle and took just a few steps and just left it at that. I’d have expected him running waving his arms to get play stopped.

  5. Its amateur hour out there week in and week out, I thought they gave playoff games to the highest rated guys? THIS is the best you’ve got NFL???

  6. Please don’t give this guy any more important games he can’t handle it. He blew the Super Bowl last year on the ridiculous holding call on Logan Wilson giving Rams the game now this.

  7. In the offseason, NFL needs full time officials with detailed plan for their continued development along with Sky Judge to correct “dumb errors”.

    Too much money with legalized gambling to allow impression the game is rigged.

  8. Bungle fans were complaining last year against the Raiders when a replay never happen, after a whistle was blown.

  9. This is the kind of stuff that happens when you use “all-star” individuals instead of crews that worked as a team all year.

  10. Even more astounding to me than the Chiefs getting an extra down was how little was made of it by the commentators in real time, including (and especially) Perera. A half-baked attempt at an explanation was made a couple of commercial breaks after the fact but considering its potential impact on the outcome of the game I was amazed it didn’t get more airtime. Clearly word came down from NY immediately that this incident was not to be discussed at length during or after. The perception that a team can now more or less be arbitrarily favored with an additional down at an official’s whim may not be reality (at least, yet) — but when combined with all the other shadiness that has been going on in games of late, it is materially damaging to the reputation of the league, in my opinion.

  11. Goodell has got to provide some level of accountability and Torbert needs to be fired.

    Well, this won’t happen, because Torbert is ok with smirking as he announces penalties since he works for Goodell.

    That was an absolute abomination on many levels from missed penalties on the Chiefs like the illegal hands to the face on Chris Jones on the odd and very late phantom “grounding” call that also came.

    I suspect that Torbert is another one of these Goodell Stooges who was encouraged to assist KC when he could and he certainly did that all throughout the 4th qtr.

    Even the punt return that set up the winning kick, there was a missed hold and block in the back.

    As suspected, the funny business occurred because all of it favored KC, which is the team deemed to bring in larger ratings in a SB.

  12. Why must he stop the play? Just correct the clock after the play -such a dumb decision

  13. The NFL is too focused on making as much money as possible to pay attention to the little things, like putting competent officials on the field.

  14. Earlier in the game, a play was clumsily stopped on a Bengals penalty, with crowd noise particularly causing confusion. The referees need a more effective method for stopping plays than lightly jogging in from left field, well outside of the vision of everyone on the field.

  15. The moment gambling was heavily accepted into the NFL the integrity of the game will forever be questioned and after the display of officiating and the explanations by TV analysts and the “TV official” it is pretty clear the shield will continue influencing outcomes of games and cover their tracks doing so. Romo most of the time is unable to keep his mouth shut but he sure kept it closed when it came to officiating.

  16. So, fine Torbert, and inspect his bank account for this year to make sure he wasn’t depositing checks to throw games.

    And, let’s question all the other well deserved Bengals penalties and whine about KC forcing the issue and winning the game.

  17. Let’s not forget folks that the WWE also has refs that “oversee” the “matches”. Anyone seeing the similarities yet?…the NFL has become sports entertainment…with the heroes and heals…and all the getting up off the ropes nonsense. You think those giant comebacks are actually for real? Get serious. The pretense of actual competition has been shucked…way more $$$’s in entertainment than actual struggle.

  18. NFL referees are an embarrassment and have a huge negative impact on the quality of the NFL product. There are so bad, it becomes somewhat comical (if your team is not involved…). The ref are over-whelmed and just cannot do the job that is required of them. They just can’t. Many look lost, slow, and past their prime (!)… Considering that the NFL is a multi-billion $ business deeply engaged with the gambling industry, it opens the door to all sorts of theories. Chiefs deserved the win last night but the performance of the officials for a conference final was just terrible.

  19. Prior to the fateful late hit on Mahomes refs missed a blatant hold and two blocks-in-the-back on the SAME PLAY (all would have been against KC)

  20. The Bengals had many opportunities to go and win the game – they didnt. Period. But some of this stuff continues to happen – its time to move some of this stuff into the 21st century. Gone should be the days where there are grown adults holding sticks at the sidelines and running out to measure where someone thought the ball ended up. Use the BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars in profits to outfit balls, stadiums, etc to come into the now and take SOME of this archaic stuff out of the game. This did impact the game because it gave the Chiefs more time with the ball. There were multiple clock resets and multiple ball misplacements as well. Its gaffes like this happening every week why people question the integrity of the game.

  21. When you throw a ball at the feet of a lineman, it’s grounding. I would like for someone to give a percentage of kicks that have block-in-the-holding (my term). Somewhere around half the time?

  22. skcusoirolf says:
    January 30, 2023 at 4:31 pm
    The moment gambling was heavily accepted into the NFL the integrity of the game will forever be questioned and after the display of officiating and the explanations by TV analysts and the “TV official” it is pretty clear the shield will continue influencing outcomes of games and cover their tracks doing so. Romo most of the time is unable to keep his mouth shut but he sure kept it closed when it came to officiating.

    20Rate This


    They spend more time paying former refs to talk down to the customer during the broadcast than they do getting calls correct.

    Completely unacceptable.

    Hands down the worst two conf title games we’ve seen in many years, for differing reasons. One was a blowout because Shanahan chose not to dress Garoppolo and the other was an insane 4th qtr of botched calls and non-calls.

  23. The problem with the officiating is that they are not accountable for there actions during the games. If a player does something bad they are fined a ridiculous amount of money. If the Ref’s blow a call or make continuous mistakes nothing is very said or done.

  24. Thank you, Mike! Yes, they tried to pin this on the clock operator when the reality was that the clock operator did exactly what the referee told him to do!

  25. Burrow’s dreams buried at Burrowhead, talk less, play more. Burrow owns Mahomes, Burrow is Mahomes daddy, and more brain-busters out there? Who-Dey? Dey-dun!

    On to Philly!

  26. I really hope an officiating blunder occurs late in the Super Bowl to sway the victory from one team to the other. The comments afterwards will be entertaining!

  27. NFL officiating gets worse every year. Nothing will be done to improve it because the owners just keep making billions so why bother.

  28. The Fix is always in. A blind person can see it. legal betting is quickly ruining the NFL

  29. All Star refereeing teams clearly aren’t as effective as teams that have been together the entire season. Ditch the All STars and simply use the highest graded teams through the playoffs. It won’t fix everything but last weekend the zebras were atrocious.

  30. Amazing that a organization that generates billions of dollars in revenue can’t hire FULL time officials at least during the season. Have them do workshops, trainings, reviews of mistakes every day of the week during the season. Don’t just fly someone in on Sunday and expect them to be competent in their job.

  31. springfield says:
    January 30, 2023 at 4:05 pm

    The ref was running in to stop the play…. It’s out there for any of you reality deniers want to see it. Facts over feelings!
    Like the FACT that a Chief player clearly blocked in the back on the punt return that decided the game? Or are you only for using facts when they support your feelings?

  32. The crew has radio communication with each other. “Hey Ron, why you running the clock?” would have been handy.

  33. But the field judge corrected the error. That is why you have a TEAM of officials to help each other out.

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