Referee Ron Torbert explains strange do-over situation in fourth quarter of Bengals-Chiefs

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
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The AFC Championship was nearly marred by a bizarre decision to wipe out a failed Kansas City third down in the fourth quarter. The drive eventually ended in a punt, not a score, making the moment less controversial.

It still was a mess.

After the game, referee Ron Torbert explained the decision that gave the Chiefs a do-over on third and nine.

“On the previous play, there was an incomplete pass,” Torbert told Ben Baby of “We spotted the ball, but the line judge came in and re-spotted the ball because the spot was off. We reset the play clock and the game clock started running. It should not have started running because there was an incomplete pass on the previous play. The field judge noticed that the game clock was running. He was coming in to shut the play down so that we could get the clock fixed but nobody heard him, and the play was run. After the play was over, he came in and we discussed that he was trying to shut the play down before the ball had been snapped. So we reset the game clock back to where it was before that snap and replayed third down.”

Torbert went on to explain that this is the normal protocol for situations like this.

Basically, the clock operator screwed up. But the mistake could have been rectified after the fact, using video evidence to add the time back to the clock that was lost by the clock error.

Prediction? Someone will be reporting in the coming days that the league will look at this specific rule in the offseason, in order to come up with a better way to replace the lost seconds after the next play has begun. Mulligans should be used only as a last resort, to avoid something that can’t be fixed.

Like when a punt hits a Skycam cable. (Oh, wait.)

20 responses to “Referee Ron Torbert explains strange do-over situation in fourth quarter of Bengals-Chiefs

  1. Earlier in the game, the CBS crew said they couldn’t hear a whistle on a play blown dead although I could hear it, barely, at home. The ref clearly came in and waved it off. Yeah, a play was snapped and it took a little while to get everything straightened out. But it was shown the ref came out to stop the play. Sure, it was a big play that could have felt unfair to the Bengals. But it wasn’t a made up call. So I don’t understand the fuss…

  2. Unfortunately this article doesn’t explain that the chaos was the doing of Ron Torbert after he said to start the game and play clock after he blew his whistle ready for play.

  3. Was a mess but in the end had no impact on the outcome of the game. Anyone complaining the refs were calling the game in favor of the Chiefs must have missed the first three quarters.

  4. I bet Burrow would like a do-over regarding the silly outfit he wore to the stadium today.

  5. This type of error happens multiple times each week the difference is that the dead play blew to completion.

    The ref left his assignment if there was a penalty in the secondary no one was watching.

  6. The ball was hiked before the ref ran on the field. This should never happen. It gives the perception the game is fixed.

  7. I’m pretty sure the official could have blown the play dead. A little strange that they would wait until a play was completed and then nullify the result.

  8. The clock operator didn’t screw it up, Tolbert did. Listen to the audio before the first play and he says something along the lines of “both clocks will start on my whistle”

  9. The league influenced the refs to craft the game they wanted. That’s all he had to say. That’s what we all saw happen.

  10. I don’t know if there was a better way to handle the situation, but they looked like a clown show. The tin foil hat crowd already thinks the games are rigged; you better do the small things correctly.

  11. Watch the replay. Torbert announced that the play clock AND game clock should start on his whistle. The clock operator did nothing wrong and it was the ref who gave incorrect directions.

  12. This was just like giving the Rams so many chances to score in their last Superbowl drive the previous year. The NFL should just merge with the WWE because it’s just too obvious now.

  13. The officials are human, but this was a stupid choice by the field judge and by the ref. The field judge should have seen that the play had started and just left the issue to be fixed after the play was run. Then, since Torbert says himself that nobody heard the field judge and the play was run, there shouldn’t have been a do-over. Sometimes you just have to use common sense. Not only the common sense of how to treat that situation, but to know that the way they actually treated it would cause an uproar and a lot of claims of officials interfering with the game.

  14. Before that play, the mic’d ref said to start the game and play clock on my signal…… the clock operator did not screw up… was the ref. Again, really no impact in the end……just another bad look. If the Chiefs had gotten the 1st down, it would have been the same result…..replay the down.

  15. The Bengals O-Line didn’t do great for sure but it was pretty clear from start to finish the ref’s called for the Chiefs. Hard to beat the ref’s and the opposing team.

  16. If the play resulted in one those “legendary Mahomes highlight plays”, does anyone think they would have said it didn’t count? But an incompletion? Yeah, that can easily be waved off. I don’t think the NFL is fixed necessarily, but it’s definitely not called evenly.

  17. Not a fan of either team, but that was the most ridiculously officiated game I have ever seen. Bengals fans should be livid over how that game was apparently fixed. Just horrible and inexcusable.

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