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NFL confirms suspension of side judge Rob Vernatchi

DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 16: Umpire Richard Hall#49 talks with line judges Darryll Lewis #130. Bill Leavy#127 and field judge Rob Vernatchi(75) during the game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 16, 2006 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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During Monday night’s game between the Steelers and Chargers, the game clock erroneously ran for 18 seconds after a touchback in the fourth quarter and went unnoticed by the officiating crew working the game.

PFT reported on Wednesday that side judge Rob Vernatchi, who was charged with supervising the timing of the game, would be suspended for this week as a result of his failure to supervise the timing of the game. The NFL confirmed that on Thursday and also addressed the rest of the officiating crew and the clock operator at Qualcomm Stadium in a statement.

“Side judge Rob Vernatchi will not officiate in Week 6 as a result of the failure to notice that the game clock was incorrectly started late in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Steeler and San Diego Chargers. The mistake will also impact the evaluation of the other six members of the officiating crew, led by Pete Morelli. 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. The status of the clock operator in San Diego, who is an NFL employee, is under review. The Chargers’ next home game is in Week 7 on Sunday, October 25.”

While the statement doesn’t use the term “suspension,” it’s obvious that Vernatchi has been suspended; he won’t be working this week as a direct result of the clock error.

PFT also reported Wednesday that back judge Greg Wilson would be reassigned from Sunday night’s Patriots-Colts game to the matchup between the Titans and Dolphins after failing to penalize Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright for an illegal bat of the ball during the Week Four game between the Seahawks and Lions. The NFL has not commented on that situation.