NFL changing playoff officiating procedure

NEW YORK — The NFL will have game referees in the playoffs consult with its director of officiating about the application of rules in situations not currently covered in instant replay reviews.

Those situations will include the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage; proper administration of the game clock; correct downs; and any other administrative matter not currently reviewable.

But Dean Blandino, the vice president of officiating, will not be able to call a foul or change a call, “or otherwise become involved in on-field judgment calls that are not subject to the current instant replay system.”

Communication on administration matters can be initiated by Blandino or the referee, the league said Wednesday.

The changes were recommended by the NFL’s powerful competition committee and approved by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Earlier this month, Goodell had spoken to the 32 team owners about the concept.

“The committee feels strongly that giving the referee and Dean the ability to consult with each other in certain situations beyond instant replay will further support officiating in the playoffs,” said competition committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. “The officials do a very difficult job exceedingly well, and we think this adjustment in the playoffs will make them even better.”

The NFL has had a rough season with its officiating, including notifying teams several times that calls had been missed or incorrectly made. Officials, who are part-timers, have also been doubted by team personnel, players and the media about their mastery of the encyclopedic rule book.

It is likely the league will look further during the offseason into how officiating is managed during games, with the competition committee playing a major role.

“We constantly strive to make our game progressively better for the players, coaches and fans,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. “This change will assist our officials with an additional resource for clarity and consistency in game administration.”

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