NFL spokesman Michael Signora released a statement Tuesday to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport detailing the clock error at the end of Monday night’s Steelers victory in San Diego.
“With 2:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, San Diego kicked off to Pittsburgh,” the statement reads. “The kick resulted in a touchback. By rule, the game clock does not start if the receiving team possesses the ball in the end zone and does not carry it into the field of play.
“Because of an error by the clock operator, the game clock was incorrectly started before the Steelers‘ first play from scrimmage following the touchback. That first down snap came with 2:38 left to play instead of 2:56, a difference of 18 seconds.
“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 game clock is not subject to instant replay review unless there is a timing issue on the last play of the first half or the last play of the game.
“The performance of the clock operator and game officials will be reviewed per the standard procedure for reviewing every play of every game.”
Traditionally, NFL clock operators are hired by the league and typically have college football officiating experience. They live in the same geographic area as the home team stadium. Around The NFL will have more on this story soon.