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In the span of four days the league watched officials mishandle two critical situations in close games -- both being played in prime time -- and those transgressions will in all likelihood result in lost playoff assignments for the crews involved, according to league sources, which amounts to a significant financial loss as well for those parties.
On Thanksgiving night, officials failed to throw a flag on the sidelines with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin clearly far too close to the field than he is allowed to be, which should have been a 15-yard penalty in an incident that may have caused Ravens return man Jacoby Jones from scoring a touchdown. On Sunday night, Jeff Triplette's crew botched a situation at the end of the Giants-Redskins game where they erroneously moved the chained and had the down marker set to first down when the ball was in fact spotted correctly, well short of the first-down distance.
In both cases those crews were downgraded significantly, league sources said, with these mistakes deemed egregious. Officials are graded on every play, and failing to see obvious mistakes, within the construct of their grading scale, can very easily result in them missing postseason assignments and bonus money. The margin between, say, a cluster of crews on the bubble of the postseason, is generally very small and everyone in the crew, in essence, is held accountable for these types of mistakes.
The NFL had to issue public mea culpas after both of these instances and the degree to which these crews were downgraded will very likely result in a far-less noticed outcome for them come January, with them missing out on lucrative playoff games.
To put that money into perspective, here's the breakdown:
- Wild Card, Divisional, Championship Game, Pro Bowl: $6,750
- Super Bowl: $12,750
- Bonus pool (available bonus money): $2,375,000
- Postseason aggregate: $3,247,000