On Sunday, the defending AFC champion New England Patriots will play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium with a Super Bowl ticket on the line. And now we know who the third team on the field will be headed by: as first reported by Football Zebras, ninth-year referee Clete Blakeman will call the game between the Patriots and Chiefs.
The website had to say the following about him:
After missing the playoffs entirely following the 2016 season, Clete Blakeman will now work his second consecutive Conference Championship. Blakeman was hired by the league in 2008, worked two seasons as a field judge, and is now in his 9th season as referee. This is his 9th postseason assignment, including 4 Wild Card Playoffs, 2 Divisional Playoffs, 2 Conference Championships, and Super Bowl 50.
Blakeman did call one Patriots game this season, the team’s week three loss against the Detroit Lions. New England was flagged five times during the contest, losing 38 yards as a result, while the Lions lost 70 yards on six penalties. Overall, it was Blakeman’s eighth assignment to a Patriots game over the course of his career as a referee — one of which last year’s AFC Championship Game between New England and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That day, Blakeman called one penalty versus the Patriots for 10 yards. The Jaguars, for comparison, lost 98 yards on six infractions. In general, however, Blakeman’s statistics this season do not egregiously favor the home team over the visitors: his crew — one that looks different for Sunday’s game — threw 107 flags on the home teams this year and 116 on the visitors, a difference of half a penalty per game.
The 54-year old also called two Chiefs games so far this year. In week one, he flagged the team five times for 60 yards. During week 11’s shootout against the Los Angeles Rams, Blakeman threw 13 flags against Kansas City resulting in 135 yards lost — both season-highs for the AFC’s number one seed.
The entire crew for Sunday’s game, which as usual for the postseason is an all-star ensemble, looks as follows (original crew of each member in parenthesis):
R 34 Clete Blakeman
U 92 Bryan Neale (Shawn Smith)
DJ 8 Dana McKenzie (Clete Blakeman)
LJ 79 Kent Payne (Clay Martin)
FJ 43 Terry Brown (Walt Anderson)
SJ 88 Brad Freeman (Clay Martin)
BJ 78 Greg Meyer (Carl Cheffers)
Replay official: Carl Madsen
Replay assistant: Tyler Cerimeli
Alternates: Tony Corrente (R), Derick Bowers (LJ), Adrian Hill (SJ)