Tony Romo is known as the commentator to predict plays. This time he was the one to conjure an extremely late penalty from the referees late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s AFC championship game.
During the fourth quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs 35-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans, sending the former to their first Super Bowl in 50 years, Romo noted on the CBS broadcast that the Titans had 12 players on the field.
At first there was no flag, but minutes later — as the teams broke from a timeout called by the Titans — the refs finally threw one and announced the penalty to a confused audience.
Romo gave a joking narration of the officials discussing the situation on the broadcast.
— Bad Sports Refs (@BadSportsRefs) January 19, 2020
Romo said, via ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports:
“There’s a flag which they should have called 10 minutes ago when I said there were 12 people on the field. I think they just decided to start talking about it now: ‘Can they play with 12?’ ‘Nope, it’s 11.’ ‘You’re sure?’ ‘Yes. Can’t play with 12. We’ve still got that rule,'” Romo jokingly narrated as the officials discussed the play.
But the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback may have actually been the reason the flag was thrown, coupled with the game being stopped anyway due to a timeout.
Former NFL referee Terry McAuley, NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” rules analyst, tweeted that it seemed the New York officiating office asked for the call during the break when it heard Romo’s statement.
I would agree. If they want to officiate from “above” then change the rule and do it. https://t.co/u4HMqNct5Q
— Terry McAulay (@SNFRules) January 19, 2020
Romo acknowledged that on the broadcast as well while trying to explain to viewers why the officials flag was so incredibly delayed.
“They could have just heard us say it and said, ‘Hey listen, by the way someone say we had 12 out there,’” Romo said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer.
As Michael David Smith writes for ProFootball Talk, that’s technically a violation of league policies even though it happens on occasion. McAuley referenced a late face mask penalty called on “Monday Night Football” in 2015. The screenshot showed a flag in the air above three referees near the line of scrimmage while the Cincinnati Bengals broke the huddle. The Denver Broncos were ready on defense.
Romo was likely able to see the transgression while referees weren’t since he had a higher vantage point from the booth. Putting a referee on site like that in a “sky judge” position is an option NFL leaders have considered. The coaches committee proposed it after a pass interference call was missed in last season’s NFC championship game.
The sky judge could step in to correct “clear and obvious” calls, though the NFL was adamant that it did not want games officiated from a remote site.
Just don’t ask Romo to step in to the role. He already has one big decision to make this offseason.
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