CLEVELAND — The NFL announced the referee assignments for Week 4 games, and Cleveland will be seeing a familiar face. Shawn Hochuli and his crew will officiate the Browns game against the Ravens on Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.
Hochuli has some history with the Browns.
The Week 4 referee lineup: pic.twitter.com/TO5kCc7yEK— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) September 24, 2019
The Tampa Bay game
When the Browns played the Buccaneers in Tampa in 2018, Shawn Hochuli, the son of retired ref Ed Hochuli, and his crew were the officiants. In the fourth quarter, a flag was thrown after Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead tackled Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield helmet-to-helmet. After discussion with his crew, Hochuli announced that “the quarterback was still a runner and therefore is allowed to be hit in the head. He had not yet begun his slide. There is, therefore, no foul."
Someone. Please. Anyone. Explain this to me... he literally says he's "allowed to be hit in the head!"— GV Art + Apparel (@GVartwork) October 21, 2018
And how can a flag for a straight helmet to helmet blow be picked up?
This doesn't happen to anyone else but the Browns @NFLOfficiating and it's week in and week out! pic.twitter.com/vx9EMrkoqy
The NFL recognized that Whitehead should have been penalized on that play for either of two infractions: unnecessary roughness for a hit to the head of a sliding player or unsportsmanlike conduct for using his helmet to hit a player, according to ESPN.
The should-be foul ruled Mayfield down at the 41-yard line with 7:47 left and the Browns behind 23-16. A 15-yard penalty would have put the Browns at the 26-yard line. The Browns were able to get to the 1-yard line on that drive but failed to score. They went on to tie it 23-23 but lost in overtime 26-23.
Just last week
Shawn Hochuli is coming off another controversial game. In the Week 3 Thursday Night Football game featuring the Titans and the Jaguars, the Hochuli crew's flag-throwing caught the attention of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady, like so many others watching the game, was upset about the number of penalties called.
I’m turning off this game I can’t watch these ridiculous penalties anymore #TENvsJAC— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) September 20, 2019
Hochuli and his crew called 15 penalties in the first half, eight of which were for holding. There were 20 penalties in total for the game, including declined penalties.
Last season, Hochuli's crew set an NFL single-season record by assessing 253 penalties for 2,164 yards. His crew called 25 more penalties than any other crew and 84 more penalties than the NFL's low crew.
We'll see what happens in Baltimore
With the increase of holding calls this season and the Browns already having been called for 12 holding calls—both offensively and defensively—don't be surprised if Hochuli and his officiating pull out their flags a lot on Sunday when the Browns take on the Ravens.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.