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2017 NFL playoffs Patriots vs Texans: Pete Morelli will work as referee

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One of the league’s most experienced referees has been assigned for New England’s divisional round game.

In four days, the New England Patriots will face the Houston Texans in the NFL’s divisional playoff round. Yesterday, Pro Football Talk reported that Pete Morelli will work as the referee for the game. The website footballzebras.com has to say the following about the assignment:

In New England, Pete Morelli, who is in his 20th season and 15th as referee, will head the crew for the Texans and Patriots. This is Morelli’s 16th postseason assignment, including 7 Wild Card Playoffs, 6 Divisional Playoffs, 2 Conference Championships, and Super Bowl XXXVI. His Super Bowl assignment was as a field judge.

Morelli worked one Patriots game this season as he was assigned for the team’s week 4 contest against the Buffalo Bills. New England lost 16-0 and was flagged a season-high 15 times in the process. Of those 15 penalties, nine were ultimately enforced and cost the Patriots 74 yards (for a detailed breakdown click here).

With the NFL re-organizing officiating crews for the playoffs based on a rating system, Morelli will not work with his standard colleagues. Instead, via footballzebras.com, Saturday’s crew looks as follows (with the original crew of each member in parenthesis):

R 135 Pete Morelli

U 14 Shawn Smith (Jeff Triplette)

HL 79 Kent Payne (Carl Cheffers)

LJ 47 Tim Podraza (Carl Cheffers)

FJ 88 Brad Freeman (Carl Cheffers)

SJ 109 Dyrol Prioleau (Jeff Triplette)

BJ 61 Keith Ferguson (John Hussey)

Replay: Tommy Moore

Alternates: Walt Coleman (R), John McGrath (HL), Terrence Miles (BJ)

The most recognizable name of Morelli’s crew is Dyrol Prioleau. The field judge worked as an alternate referee during the 2014 AFC Championship Game and was one of two men to measure the Patriots’ and Colts’ footballs during halftime – thus playing a key role in kicking off the dumbest scandal in recent memory.