Penalty watch: Morelli gets call as ref

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
5:00
AM ET
The weekly penalty watch highlights how Saturday's playoff matchup between the Patriots and Colts pits the two teams with the fewest accepted penalties during the regular season:

Patriots' total penalties: 82
Patriots' total accepted penalties: 69 (second fewest in NFL)
NFL team with fewest accepted penalties: Colts (66), Patriots (69), Dolphins (70), Vikings (70), Panthers (80), Steelers (80).
NFL team with most accepted penalties: Seahawks (128), Rams (123), Buccaneers (121), Broncos (117), Raiders (116), Ravens (112), Texans (112).
Most frequent Patriots penalty: Offensive holding (17), false start (12), defensive pass interference (8), defensive holding (6), illegal shift (5).
Key stat: The Patriots had two games this season without a penalty.
Most penalized Patriots: CB Aqib Talib (8), G Logan Mankins (7), G Marcus Cannon (6), C Ryan Wendell (5).

Summary: Referee Pete Morelli gets the call for Saturday's game. He was the referee for the Patriots-Texans game on Dec. 1 when the Patriots weren't called for a penalty (the Texans had 2). Overall, Morelli's crew was known for throwing among the fewest number of flags this year, but one thing to keep in mind is that this isn't his complete crew. Two of the six other officials were part of Morelli's crew during the regular season -- line judge Carl Johnson and field judge John Lucivansky. But the umpire is Garth DeFelice of Clete Blakeman's crew, and he was a central figure in reversing the initial end-zone penalty for pass interference on Rob Gronkowski at the end of the loss to the Panthers. Head linesman Wayne Mackie, for example, is part of Gene Steratore's crew. So this dynamic takes away some of the "scouting" teams might do of specific refereeing crews.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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