With all the controversy that has surrounded the officiating in this year’s AFC Championship Game, Pat McAfee had former NFL Referee Gene Steratore on his show to discuss the debacle.
After a 15-year career working the sidelines, Steratore is now the Head of Officiating for CBS Network’s NFL coverage. The man in stripes also served as an NCAA basketball official at the same time he worked for the NFL, so he knows a thing or two about keeping order. When speaking with McAfee, Steratore said that the calls that closed out the contest were the type that is “called within a tight restriction.”
The former referee went over some different clips of game film and attempted to explain as clearly as possible how officiating crews assemble on the field in order to see the entire play. Steratore also discussed offensive holding during gameplay, which is commonly referred to as something that ‘can literally be called on every single play.’
During the pivotal third down play late in the fourth quarter, he did indicate that he would have called holding on the Chiefs saying, “But then we get engaged, then were locked. Now, when Patrick [Mahomes] starts to roll to the right, now he continues to restrict on that shoulder, which doesn’t allow that defender to get away from that restriction to start pursuing. So to me in that level that’s when it rose to, okay, now we have a hold.”
Steratore also broke down the unnecessary roughness penalty against the Bengals when Patrick Mahomes was shoved while he was two full steps out of bounds. He commented that sometimes officials may be hesitant to make a pivotal ruling at that late juncture, but this one was a no-brainer.
“It has to be called,” Steratore said. “That’s just a foul. It’s a foul on the first play of the game, and it’s a foul on the last play of the game. That’s where that play has to live.”
McAfee and Steratore were quick to point out all the confusion and chaos at the conclusion of the AFC Championship game between the Chiefs and Bengals. Kansas City secured a 23-20 win and a trip to the Super Bowl, amid some observers asserting later that the game was potentially ‘rigged.’
A wiped-out third-down play, followed by what Referee Ron Torbert described as a ‘do-over’ enraged Bengals fans and most viewers of the title game. The penalty on the sidelines also added fuel to their fire, as the Bengals were considered a bit of a lovable underdog, playing on the road at Kansas City. (Never mind the fact that Joe Burrow & company advanced all the way to the Super Bowl last year).
This train of thought comes at a time when officiating has been under sharp criticism by fans and observers over the last several seasons.
While talking with Seratore, McAfee was quick to point out that he’s a big advocate for communication among the different NFL crews, and that appeared to be lacking – particularly in this contest.