Report: Referees from Raiders-Bengals game not expected to work rest of playoffs

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The referees took center stage in Saturday's AFC wild-card playoff game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals, but it looks like no other teams will have to deal with that particular crew for the rest of the postseason.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, that referee crew, headed by Jerome Boger, isn't likely to receive high marks for its performance in Saturday's game, and isn't expected to be assigned to work any other games in the playoffs this season.

Boger's crew became the focus of the game in the second quarter when it made a controversial call that increased the Bengals' lead and ended up being the difference-maker in Cincy's 26-19 win.

Jerome Boger and his crew of referees aren't expected to be assigned to any other playoff games this season due to their performance in the Raiders-Bengals game. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jerome Boger and his crew of referees aren't expected to be assigned to any other playoff games this season due to their performance in the Raiders-Bengals game. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The controversial call

On a third down in the waning minutes of the second quarter, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow started rolling to his right. He kept on rolling until he was close to being out of bounds, then threw a pass to Tyler Boyd, who was in the end zone. Burrow wasn't out of bounds when he threw it, and the referees signaled a touchdown.

But the main issue with this play was the whistle. One of the officials thought Burrow was out of bounds when he threw the ball, so he blew the whistle — and it appeared to come before the ball was caught.

If the whistle sounds, the play is dead. The referees got together and talked, and decided that they'd blown the whistle after Boyd caught the ball, even though the replay appeared to show the opposite. And getting together to talk about it was pretty much all they or anyone else could do. Unintentional/erroneous whistles aren't reviewable under the NFL's current replay rules.

Walt Anderson, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, pretty much went with what Boger and his crew told them, and it doesn't appear that the NFL conducted an additional review of the play.

“We confirmed with the referee and the crew that on that play — they got together and talked — they determined that they had a whistle, but that the whistle for them on the field was blown after the receiver caught the ball,” Anderson said via ESPN. “They did not feel that the whistle was blown before the receiver caught the ball.”

There is one mitigating factor to consider in this referee mess. The NFL decided to break up established officiating crews for the playoffs, choosing referees from different crews to work together. The NFL has taken heat for that, but it's also worth mentioning that according to Schefter, Boger specifically hasn't gotten great reviews this season.