The NFL playoffs are right around the corner and the New England Patriots will open them at home against the Tennessee Titans. While we do not know how the game will play out, we already know the man who is officiating it: as was announced earlier this week, John Hussey will serve as the referee for the wild card matchup.
Officiating website Football Zebras had to say the following about him:
This is Hussey’s 12th postseason assignment, including 5 Wild Card Playoffs, 4 Divisional Playoffs, 2 Conference Championships, and Super Bowl XLV. His Super Bowl assignment was as a line judge.
Hussey has worked three Patriots games since being promoted to referee in 2015: he called the team’s 33-8 win over the Oakland Raiders in 2017, the 43-40 victory against the Kansas City Chiefs last season, and New England’s 24-17 win versus the Buffalo Bills — arguably the Patriots’ best game of the season — earlier this year. And in all three games, Hussey and his crew did not have too big an impact on the outcome.
All in all, the Patriots were flagged a combined five times during the three games: Hussey penalized the team two times for a loss of 10 yards against Oakland, did not throw a single flag against New England one year later, and called only three infractions for a combined 30 yards versus Buffalo. Needless to say that the former line judge tends to let the teams play — at least when the Patriots are involved, it seems.
Against Tennessee, after all, Hussey has been more willing to call penalties: he has officiated seven of the team’s games over the years and threw an average of five flags against the Titans for a loss of 53.1 yards per game. Earlier this season versus the Atlanta Falcons, he penalized Mike Vrabel’s team five times for 77 yards.
However, it remains to be seen whether or not those trends continue on Saturday. After all, the NFL uses all-star ensembles in the postseason and Hussey is the only member of his original crew to be assigned for the wild card matchup. The entire crew for Sunday’s game looks as follows (original crew of each member in parenthesis):
R 35 John Hussey
U 81 Roy Ellison (Adrian Hill)
DJ 68 Tom Stephan (Walt Anderson)
LJ 59 Rusty Baynes (Jerome Boger)
FJ 97 Tom Hill (Shawn Hochuli)
SJ 3 Scott Edwards (Ron Torbert)
BJ 39 Rich Martinez (Shawn Hochuli)
Replay official: Billy Smith
Replay assistant: Andrew Lambert
Alternates: Bill Vinovich (R), Alan Eck (U), David Oliver (DJ), Ryan Dickson (FJ)