How Patriots-Titans referee assignment could impact Wild Card matchup


Don't expect much extracurricular activity Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.

The New England Patriots host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday in their first Wild Card Round game since the 2009 season. The officiating crew for Saturday's game was revealed Monday, and it's led by veteran referee John Hussey, who is in his 18th NFL season and fifth as a head referee.

The one stat that stands out about Hussey's crew? They called six unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in 2019, easily the most among all referee crews. (The next-closest called three.)

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New England and Tennessee have just four unsportsmanlike conduct penalties between them (two apiece), but Hussey's no-nonsense approach is worth noting for a player like Titans offensive lineman Taylor Lewan, who's been fined multiple times for confronting officials.

Here's what else you need to know about how Hussey's crew could impact Saturday's game:

- The Patriots are 3-0 in games Hussey has worked as a head ref. That includes a 33-8 win over the Oakland Raiders in 2017, a 43-40 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018 and the team's 24-17 win over the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago.

- That Patriots-Bills game featured Hussey publicly barking at the Gillette Stadium clock operators for letting the game clock run after an incomplete pass. Like we said, he doesn't take any nonsense.

- Hussey's crew called 205 penalties this season, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. Hussey was especially lenient on holding calls, assessing 54 in 15 games, the third-lowest total among NFL refs.

- The home team won just six of the 15 games Hussey worked this season, with the road team winning six of Hussey's last eight assignments.

- Hussey has 12 postseason assignments under his belt, one of which was the Patriots' 2013 AFC Championship Game loss to the Denver Broncos, where he worked as a line judge.

The overall takeaway? Hussey is a solid assignment for both teams, as he'll keep after-the-whistle antics to a minimum while not slowing the game down with ticky-tack calls.

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