AJ McCarron’s facemask was grabbed by Broncos defensive end Malik Jackson, and the infraction initially went uncalled. While the Bengals were huddling for their next play—and long after a penalty is typically called—Ed Hochuli threw the flag, causing many to believe that it was called in by Dean Blandino and/or the NFL office.
Mike Pereira, who used to hold Blandino’s job overseeing NFL officials, thinks the flag was called in from “somewhere” and sounds nervous about the precedent it sets:
Previously, Blandino has acknowledged that he would communicate with referees during playoff games (of which this would not qualify, but is a primetime game of much import), but said he wouldn’t be involved in penalty calls. Via PFT:
“This does not involve penalties,” Blandino said. “This does not involve the initiating of a flag or picking up a flag. When there’s a conference on the field, we in New York will not be part of that conference. We will not be listening in, talking to the officials. This is strictly a safety net in the isolated instance that there’s an issue with the administration of the game. It’s just using the technology to have one more resource to get it right. That’s the goal of this. It will not involve penalties and it will not involve communicating with the referee after every play, after penalties are called.”