Referee Ron Torbert was called on the carpet due to some very controversial calls made by him and his crew 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‘.
The issue was further compounded by the confusing explanation provided by the veteran NFL official, who has been with the league since 2010. His attempts to downplay the occurrences only enraged fans further. Especially those in Cincinnati.
Torbert told a tale about a ‘do-over’ in the fourth quarter, necessitated by an official trying to correct an error by the clock operator. The truth is that Torbert is the one who made the mistake. Despite the fact that his team of officials and even the NFL itself drew a lot of criticism as well.
As you can see in the video above, the action had stopped because of a wrong spot following an incomplete pass on second and nine. That would then, naturally, set up a third-down play. After the ball was finally placed, Torbert ordered the play clock to be set to 10 seconds. On his signal, the play clock and game clock started. Except they weren’t supposed to.
When the field judge noticed the clock was moving, he tried to stop a play that had already started. No one heard a whistle. After the play ended, the officials got together. They collectively decided that the play was dead. That set up another third and nine situation.
This was, essentially, the ‘do-over’ that Ron Torbert had brought up in his attempts at a clarification.
So while it was fine that Torbert attempted to talk his way out of this situation, it was his fault in the first place. The clock operator simply did what the referee instructed him to do.
This glaring error on one of the biggest sports stages of the year has revived calls for referee reform in the NFL. Despite having large crews and a ton of technology, officials have been throwing some pretty foul flags in recent years. Fans and observers have taken serious notice of this epidemic.
According to NFL.com, each game averages about 154 plays. A typical official works 14 regular-season games and is evaluated on nearly 2,200 plays in a single season. The same page states that referees and their crews average a 98.9% success rate when it comes to getting things correct. Although that’s a statistic that many fans and media members might dispute.
The NFL Referees Association typically meets with the NFL sometime in May to evaluate the previous year, and to prepare for the upcoming season. As of now, there has been no official word if this particular series of plays will be discussed.