Posted December 22, 2013

Blocked field goal turns into odd penalty against the Steelers

AFC North, Green Bay Packers, NFC North, Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Tomlin was not happy with the call following a blocked field goal.

Mike Tomlin was not happy with the call following a blocked field goal. (Jeffrey Phelps/AP)

Rare is it when a week goes by in the NFL without some discussion of a controversial officiating decision. And thanks to Carl Cheffers’ crew in Green Bay, we’ve got our talking point for Week 16.

The Steelers managed to block Mason Crosby’s short, 23-yard field-goal attempt, seemingly preserving a three-point lead, only to cede the ball back to the Packers on a rare illegal batting penalty.

In the ensuing scramble after Steve McLendon swatted Crosby’s kick, Pittsburgh’s Ryan Clark appeared to scoop up the loose football and attempt a lateral to his teammate. The unsuccessful try left the ball rolling on the ground, at which point the Steelers’ Ziggy Hood swatted it out of bounds.

Hood’s move resulted in a flag. However, the key here: The officials ruled that Pittsburgh never had secured possession prior to that moment, meaning that the penalty gave Green Bay an automatic first down. And, as Cheffers explained, the NFL rule book prevents the Steelers from challenging a possession call in that circumstance.

For starters, here’s the bat by Hood, which clearly deserved a flag:

(GIF via Bleacher Report)

Prior to that, though, it looked relatively clear that Clark not only gained possession, but that he took a couple of steps, was touched down by a Green Bay player and pitched the ball backwards — all of which should have resulted in the penalty being enforced after Pittsburgh took over possession.

Instead, the Packers took advantage of the very questionable call to punch in a touchdown — Eddie Lacy plunged over on the next snap for six.


Disgraceful but to be expected. If you watch the packers they get calls like this all the time. 


The call showed the referees complete incompetence. They should never be allowed to officiate a professional game again. You cannot lateral a pass to a teammate without possession after he clearly had possession after the block. They fine players all the time whether a hit is intentional or not. Fine and suspend/fire these officials


This was a terrible call. But what was most frustrating was the lack of discipline shown by the Steelers' players. Clark should not have even considered lateralling that ball. Ziggy should have just jumped on it. Since the officials allowed the play to continue, they obviously didn't blow the whistle so Clark was not down. So if a Packer recovered the ball, the Steelers would have the ball. So it is clear to me that the Steelers did not play disciplined again. As for the officials, they are just horrible. I don't believe in any conspiracy theory, which leaves only incompetence. Could Tomlin have challenged that Clark was down? Or does that assume possession? How is it possible that a coach is not able to challenge possession? IIsn't that as important as possession on a pass? Another example of the stupidity of Roger Goodell and the NFL.