NFL Caretakers: The Best Behind The Whistles -Postseason Of Excellence

Vinovich, Cheffers, Payne, Corrente, Steed, Phillips, Hall, Mello, Quirk, Buchanan On The Money

The 2019 NFL season was filled with emotional roller coaster rides, excitement, highlights and – great on field calls.

The NFL Caretakers exited the regular season and entered the postseason on point, focus and aware of every surrounding execution. As each game played out, the NFL officials occasionally allowed the football players to be -football players knowing that their skill sets would create the ultimate outcome.

Still, with several edgy plays that needed to be thoroughly reviewed, the NFL officials were sharp in processing, viewing what they witness and confident in their judgement without any innovation.

Related Article: NFL Caretakers: The Best Behind The Whistles – First Half

Clearly, the NFL Caretakers were in postseason form.

And these highlights proved it.

WILDCARD WEEKEND – BUFFALO BILLS VS. HOUSTON TEXANS

Dashaun Watson/NFL.com


In this thrilling matchup with the Texans down 16-0, they faced first-and-10 from the Bills’ 20-yard line with 1:42 remaining in the third quarter. Texans quarterback Dashaun Watson received the ball from shotgun formation.

Watson ran a play-action fake and sprinted to the outside to his right. He dipped and dodged as he approached the goal line. The Pro Bowl signal caller was met by Bills safety Jordan Poyer at the 6-yard line and defensive end Trent Murphy piled on behind him. Watson powered both defenders on his back and carried them into the endzone.

Down judge Jerod Phillips of referee Tony Corrente‘s playoff crew trailed Watson down the field, however, side judge Jimmy Buchanan was over top of the play and followed the process through to signal a touchdown.

The play was reviewed.

Buchanan witnessed in live speed that when Watson was carrying the two defenders on his back, his right knee hit the turf at the one. Nevertheless, more than the tip of the ball was over the goal line secured within Watson’s arm.

The play was confirmed. It was blur in playoff speed. Still, Buchanan came through as he focused on the process. Great call.

WILDCARD WEEKEND – MINNESOTA VIKINGS VS. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

In this early contest with 14:52 left in the first half, the Saints were on their 20-yard line facing first-and-10. Saints quarterback Drew Brees took the ball from under center and dropped back deep into the pocket when he saw wide receiver Mike Thomas running towards the side line with Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes trailing him.

Related Article: NFL Caretakers: The Best Behind The Whistles – Midseason

Thomas caught the ball, but fell out of bounds at the Vikings’ sideline. The Vikings’ sideline and linebacker Eric Wilson profoundly denounced the play was complete because Thomas was out of bounds.

Until down judge Jim Mello of referee Carl Cheffers‘ playoff crew came running to the spot to rule complete. Side judge Jim Quirk quickly conceded with Mello as he approached the spot at the Saints’ 35-yard line.

When Thomas secured the ball immediately, the tips of both feet were on the turf in bounds slightly before he fell on to the Vikings’ sideline. The play was a blur with Rhodes falling down covering Thomas’ feet.

Great concentration by Thomas, solid awareness by Mello and Quirk.

DIVISIONAL ROUND – TENNESSEE TITANS VS. BALTIMORE RAVENS

This call could have thrown anyone off, but not this crew.

Image result for jonnu smith touchdown catch against ravens"
Jonnu Smith/Google Images


In the first quarter with 3:43 remaining, the Titans faced third-and-goal from the Ravens’ 12-yard line. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill received the ball from shotgun and backed up out the pocket. Tannehill tossed the ball to his left toward the post-corner of the endzone in Titans tight end Jonnu Smith.

Smith tipped the ball with his left hand and it started bobbling around his hand before he corralled it while falling out of bounds. It appeared that Smith never had control pass as Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr was waving incomplete.

Until side judge Eugene Hall of Bill Vinovich‘s postseason crew stepped in and signaled a touchdown. Due to the difficulty of the catch with questions about the touchdown, the play went under review.

Replay showed that Smith tipped the ball to himself, it bounced off his hand and around again before he quickly secured the ball into his body. When Smith finally gained control, his left cheek landed slightly in bounds before sliding out of bounds.

One cheek equals two feet and, amazingly, Smith was able to gain control for the score.

The play happened rapidly in a blur. Smith eyed the ball through the execution, which Hall kept his concentration on the process of the play. Many would have easily signaled incomplete, but not these NFL Caretakers as Hall, along with down judge Kent Payne, proves they are tops in their profession.

SUPER BOWL LIV – SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS VS. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Damien Williams/Google Images


It was all about goal line action, and Vinovich’s collectively super crew for Super Bowl LIV were the NFL Caretakers for the contest.

It started late in the first quarter on back-to-back plays.

With 1:57 remaining on the clock, the Chiefs faced fourth-and-1 from the 49ers’ five-yard line. The Chiefs lined up, the backfield did a swift choreographed spin and the direct snap went to running back Damien Williams.

Williams ran up the middle between, bounced to the outside and lunged into the endzone while being piled on by the 49ers’ defense. The Chiefs signaled for the touchdown.

Related Article: NFL Caretakers: The Best Behind The Whistles – Bang-Bang To The End

Umpire Barry Anderson skipped over to the spot where Williams apparently stop. Back field Greg Steed approached the scene and down judge Kent Payne sprinted down along the 49ers’ one-yard line with his right arm extended signaling where Williams was down.

The highlight displayed that while Williams was advancing forward, his left knee touched the ground before he broke the plane. The Chiefs did not score the touchdown, however, they got the first down.

Great awareness, and on the next play, the same outcome.

With a 1:14 left, rookie running back Darwin Thompson took the hand off up the middle from quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Despite getting lose in the crowd and appearing to have scored, the official crew recognized that Thompson went down with no gain.

With the game in the balance, the Chiefs needed a touchdown to take the lead with 2:52 remaining in regulation. On third-and-goal from the 49ers’ five-yard line, Mahomes received the ball from shotgun formation. In a two-back set, Mahomes dropped back and threw a quick toss to Williams in the flat.

Damien Williams/Google Images


Williams sprinted towards the endzone attempting to get to the pylon. 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman tried to cut Williams off, but he extended the ball across the goal line with the top of his right foot out of bounds.

This was a bang-bang play that could have gone either way – but not in Payne’s eye as he did not hesitate to signal a touchdown as he was on top of the play.

Related Article: NFL Caretakers: The Best Behind The Whistles – Down The Stretch

According to the highlight, when Williams was approaching the pylon, Sherman hit him. When Williams had his right foot planted out of bounds, the tip of the ball crossed the goal line.

The play happened in a blur. Still, the execution was clearly sound for Payne as he nailed the call, and play confirmed.

What a great season for the NFL Caretakers in 2019. The 2020 NFL campaign will either just a great – or better.

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