The officiating crew for the Super Bowl normally consists of veterans accustomed to the pressure of the biggest spotlight in sports
So the decision to award Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII to Jerome Boger is raising some eyebrows, seeing as he has never previously officiated a conference championship game, let alone a Super Bowl.
Boger, a referee with seven years of experience and two as a line judge, got the nod over veteran referees Ed Hochuli and others with significant playoff and Super Bowl experience, causing many to question the league’s rating system for its officials.
But that isn’t what should concern bettors Sunday.
Boger’s crews are notoriously known for cracking down on holding penalties, calling a league-high 18 holds against defensive linemen since 2008. That is about triple the average and six more than Ed Hochuli’s posse. In fact, Boger’s crews have called an alarming 151 offensive holding penalties from 2010-2012.
The Ravens were flagged for 18 offensive holding penalties (ninth in the league), while the 49ers were close behind with 17 (12th) this season.
Although Boger loves to blow the whistle on holding, he tends to be more lenient in other aspects of the game. He called an average of 11.42 penalties over 12 games this season - one less than the league average. Boger issued an average of 97.25 penalty yards per game – 8.2 yards below the combined league mark.
He was also recently criticized for being too lenient in the next-to-last game of the season between the Raiders and Panthers. Carolina QB Cam Newton bumped Boger while disputing a call. Newton was penalized but not ejected because Boger said he didn't feel the bump was enough to warrant an ejection, as the rules require.
That's worth noting because the Ravens and Niners have a reputation for playing on edge and the numbers prove it. Baltimore racked up a league-high 1,127 penalty yards and San Francisco was wrung up for 960 yards in flags this season. The Ravens had the most unnecessary roughness calls (14) in the league and were flagged for four roughing the passer penalties.
San Francisco wasn’t far behind with 12 unnecessary roughness calls.A few more important notes about Boger:
- He has officiated two games involving the 49ers this season and the Niners put up 45 points in both of them. Boger was in control of San Francisco’s 45-3 thumping of Buffalo in Week 5 and was also the main man for the Niners’ 45-31 win over Green Bay in the divisional round of the playoffs. Both of those games played over their respective totals.
- Teams played over the total in seven of Boger’s 12 games this season and combined for an average of 42.8 points per game. The total is currently set at 47 for Sunday's game.
- After a 26-3 win over San Francisco in Week 6, New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride suggested 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith "gets away with murder" by holding opponents to free up outside linebacker Aldon Smith for sacks. Expect Boger to have a keen eye on Smith Sunday.
- Boger will not be working with his regular crew
Super Bowl Sunday. The seven-man crew has a combined 77 years of officiating experience and 50 combined playoff assignments.