The NFL has suspended the official who didn't recognize a clock error in Monday's game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. Side judge Rob Vernatchi did not notice that the clock started ticking before the first snap of Pittsburgh's final drive, and in total 18 seconds were run off the clock. He will not officiate in Week 6 as a result.
"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," the NFL said in a statement. "Had the side judge or any of the other six on-field officials noticed the timing error, they could have corrected it."
Pittsburgh wound up scoring on a Le'Veon Bell run to win the game, but the play came as time expired and it wasn't on fourth down. If Bell had come up short and they had more time, the Steelers would have been able to use a timeout to take another shot at the end zone. The clock went from 2:56 to 2:38 without anyone noticing.
Official suspensions happen rarely, even if officiating mistakes happen often. In this case, the NFL felt the mistake was egregious enough to qualify. The league also said the mistake will "impact the evaluation of the other six members of the officiating crew, led by referee Pete Morelli."
The clock operator in San Diego could also face punishment, though his status remains under review. He is an NFL employee and subject to punishment the same as everyone else. The Chargers play on the road this week, but return home in Week 7.
The NFL's full statement is below.