The NFL has reportedly suspended side judge Rob Vernatchi for failing to notice a mistake on the official game clock during Monday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers, Pro Football Talk reports.
Vernatchi has been suspended for one week with pay, and will likely file a grievance.
In the fourth quarter of the game, 18 seconds were incorrectly run off the clock, and none of the officials fixed the mistake. It is the responsibility of the side judge to supervise the timing of the game, NFL spokesman Michal Signora said in a statement.
Had Vernatchi corrected the error, the outcome of the game may have been different. The Steelers were down by three points with five seconds left on the clock. Le’Veon Bell scored a last-second touchdown, giving Pittsburgh a 24–20 win.
The NFL released the following statement on Tuesday:
“Because of an error by the clock operator, the game clock was incorrectly started before the Steelers’ first play from scrimmage following the touchback. That first down snap came with 2:38 left to play instead of 2:56, a difference of 18 seconds. The official game time is kept on the stadium scoreboard, but it is the responsibility of the side judge to supervise the timing of the game. Had the side judge or any of the other six on-field officials noticed the timing error, they could have corrected it.”
- Erin Flynn