The NFL is reportedly being questioned for allowing those referees to work the game.
The NFL is facing concern within its own quarters for allowing four game officials who lived in Southern California to work last Sunday's NFC Championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Sunday.
According to Schefter, the four officials—all of whom lived in Southern California for significant time—were the ones "most responsible" for the controversial non-call on Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman's helmet-to-helmet hit that was viewed by many as blatant pass interference.
Referee Bill Vinovich, who led the game's officiating crew, lives in Newport Beach, California. Down judge Patrick Turner lives in Lakewood, California, in Los Angeles County, while side judge Gary Cavaletto and back judge Todd Prukop live in Santa Barbara and Mission Viejo, respectively.
Had the call been made, the Saints could have had the chance to run time off the clock before attempting a field goal. Instead, the Rams stunned New Orleans 26–23 in overtime and secured their place in Super Bowl LIII.
NFL senior vice president of officiating reportedly told Saints coach Sean Payton afterward that the penalty should have been issued.
According to Schefter, the Saints and other NFL officials not involved in the game do not believe the game's officials's California ties influenced the non-call. A league spokesman told ESPN that "officiating assignments are based on performance and not geographical location."
The Rams will face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3.