If there are any questions during postseason games that go beyond the jurisdiction of instant replay, the league's vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, will be on call to help.
The NFL Competition Committee unanimously recommended Blandino's availability for communication with the officials in each postseason game, allowing them to consult with Blandino on specifics and application of rules not covered by instant replay.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell approved the committee's recommendation Wednesday.
"The committee feels strongly that giving the referee and Dean the ability to consult with each other in certain situations beyond instant replay will further support officiating in the playoffs," said Rich McKay, the chairman of the Competition Committee who also serves as the Falcons' team president. "The officials do a very difficult job exceedingly well, and we think this adjustment in the playoffs will make them even better."
Blandino cannot change or assess a penalty, or insert himself into any judgment call. But he can be on hand to prevent the kind of situation that occurred during an Oct. 12 game between the Steelers and Chargers, when 18 seconds incorrectly ran off the game clock following a kickoff.
"We constantly strive to make our game progressively better for the players, coaches and fans," said Troy Vincent, the league's Executive Vice President of Football Operations. "This change will assist our officials with an additional resource for clarity and consistency in game administration."
The rule change is as follows:
For the 2015 Postseason, consultation may occur between the Referee and the VP of Officiating or his designee located in the league's officiating headquarters in New York regarding the correct application of playing rules. In addition to the VP of Officiating's current role in Instant Replay, this consultation will only include the appropriate assessment of penalty yardage, the proper administration of the game clock, the correct down, or any other administrative matter not currently reviewable.
This will not include the ability to call or change a foul, or otherwise become involved in on-field judgment calls that are not subject to the current Instant Replay system.