By Matthew Marczi
When it comes to the blocked field goal from the victory over the Green Bay Packers, the story has already been covered from just about every angle.
That the defense was able to hold the Packers to a field goal attempt in the first place from the five-yard line after Le’Veon Bell’s fumble helped put a cap on the damage. The blocked field goal by Steve McLendon was, of course, huge, as it effectively wiped out the turnover altogether—or at least it should have.
Ryan Clark’s recovery of the loose ball was a positive, obviously, as was his desire to attempt to create a return situation during a ‘big play opportunity, as Mike Tomlin might say. Given the situation, however, it was misguided to attempt to lateral the ball in the manner in which he did, to a player not ready to receive it.
It was unfortunate yet understandable that Ziggy Hood batted the loose ball forward to knock it out of bounds. He may not have even been aware of the illegal batting rule, though that doesn’t excuse the action.
Finally, it was a potentially game-changing blunder by the officials to not rule Clark as having possession, as it was clear that he did have possession, with his knee down on the turf and making a ‘football move’ by lateraling the ball. That is possession by any definition, but the officials missed it.
But that’s understandable. What’s less easy to understand is the nonsensical logic behind not making possession of the ball reviewable in this instance.
To its credit, the league more often than not makes the necessary rules adjustments during the offseason when obvious foolishness like this comes up, so I won’t be surprised if possession would be made reviewable next season. But it didn’t help the Steelers any this week.
While I’m not inclined to believe in the concept of karma, the human drama that unfolded after the Packers scored the go-ahead touchdown one play after their ill-gotten fortune would certainly be used as evidence of such by those who do believe.
The Steelers quickly marched down the field, beginning with a good kick return. Bell burst up the middle of the field for 25 yards on the first play and Matt Spaeth caught his first pass of the year in the end zone to put the Steelers back on top.
Then, on the Packers’ very next play, tight end Andrew Quarless ran into Matt Flynn as he was throwing the ball, making the ball flutter in the air, which allowed Cortez Allen to easily pick it off and return it for a touchdown.
A pair of baffling penalties committed by the Packers helped the Steelers score a touchdown and prevented the Packers from scoring one of their own at the end of the game. Karmic justice or not, it’s just nice when it works out that way.