Gary Kubiak: Late flag shows 'a lot of communication going on' between league, officials

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- During an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier this month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hinted at possible changes in how games would be officiated. The feeling among many in the league was that those changes would be made for the playoffs.

But according to Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, the Broncos may have gotten an early peak at some of the changes after a delayed penalty call in their overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night. With just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter, defensive end Malik Jackson sacked Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron for a 1-yard loss as McCarron tried to escape trouble.

McCarron got up from the tackle briefly motioning to the official his face mask had been grabbed on the play, but no flag was initially thrown. The Broncos' defense was lined up for the next play, with the Bengals offense in a huddle, and after replays had clearly shown Jackson grabbed McCarron’s face mask, referee Ed Hochuli stopped the game to call the penalty.

After a brief conversation with line judge Rusty Baynes well after the play, Hochuli threw the flag and the ball was then moved from the Bengals’ 17-yard line to the Bengals’ 32-yard line.

“You’re almost to the next play and here it comes,’’ Kubiak said. “There are some things going on differently, how games are being viewed and people that are involved in different situations, those type of things.’’

Kubiak added: "[Hochuli] was very honest with me that he got late information and that he thinks it was right. It’s kind hard to argue with. I know they’re just trying to do the best job they can.’’

Asked how long after a play he believed a flag could be thrown, Kubiak said: “I don’t know that I know exactly how late they can throw one. I know there is a lot of communication going on around the league from the league office, the officials, from New York, whatever. I know that has changed. Those guys get a lot of information as the game goes on. Anytime it is 'the game,' the Monday night game, all the help is coming at one direction, not like a normal Sunday where there is 14 or 15 football games. That’s a little bit different, but I think I do understand they’re trying to get it right … It was hard for me to understand. Was it a face mask? Yes, it was a face mask. I do agree with that."

Goodell also said at the league meetings in Dallas in early December that "no stone will be left unturned" during the this year’s playoffs as the NFL tries to improve officiating. At that time Goodell mentioned the possibilities of simplifying and clarifying certain rules, implementing new technology and changing the ways in which officials are trained and assigned to crews. He added the league will also continue to examine the idea to make at least some NFL officials full-time employees.