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Tomlin Thinks Referees Screwed Up Batted Ball Call Following Blocked Field Goal


There is no doubt the Green Bay Packers received a gift on Sunday following the blocked field goal attempt by kicker Mason Crosby with 5:32 left in the third quarter and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is pretty sure the officials got the call wrong.

“They screwed it up in my opinion but I will wait to hear judgment from those that evaluate performances and so forth,” said Tomlin after the game. “We got penalized on the play for batting, but I thought we had possession of the ball prior to batting.

“It would have been our possession. We should have maintained possession of the ball, but it didn’t unfold that way. They ruled that we didn’t have possession of the ball so that put the batting of the football back into their possession.  I wanted to challenge it but they said it was not a challengeable play.”

After Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon blocked the 23 yard attempt, safety Ryan Clark scooped up the loose ball. On his way down, Clark attempted to lateral the ball backwards to cornerback William Gay, but the connection was not made. At that point, even though Clark’s knee appeared to hit the ground prior to lateraling the ball, defensive end Ziggy Hood batted the ball illegally out of bounds for fear that a Packers player would recover the fumble.

The referees were right to flag Hood for batting the ball forward, but possession should have remained with the Steelers as Clark clearly had control of the football prior to the lateral attempt to Gay.

Tomlin threw the red challenge flag but was told possession could not be challenged. “My contention was we had possession of the football before the batting,” said Tomlin. “I didn’t get an opportunity to state that case because it was not challengeable.”

You can bet that this will be discussed more as the week goes on and potentially by the competition committee, of which Tomlin is a member, during the offseason meetings.

Mike Pereira, the NFL’s former Vice President of Officiating and current rules analyst at FOX Sports, weighed in on Twitter with his thoughts on the play as well as it relates to it not being challengeable.

“It’s time to look at replay and make recovery of loose ball reviewable just like it is if it’s in the end zone,” Pereira wrote.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Kevin Gobleck

    I still think you should be able to challenge possession, Clark clearly had the ball before flipping it. But o well we still won

  • Kevin Gobleck

    Referees should be fined for such bad calls

  • gene mann

    How was it not possesion Clark had the ball and was even down before he played a moron and tried to lateral it

  • Jeremy Scott

    Fine via Goodell for criticizing the officials forthcoming in 5, 4, 3, 2…

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    The NFL is a sham, but I remain a Steeler’s fan.

  • Jeff

    I disagree. They bust their asses to call a fair game. Everyone makes mistakes.

  • Lizard72

    But you fine players and coaches for “mistakes”.

  • stairman

    I think the refs should be fined 100k and lose a draft pick. It could of affected the seedig of the playoffs.Oh wait, they make mistakes too.

  • Shelob9

    What I’m still confused about is that if the ruling is that the Steelers never had possession, then it’s a blocked FG on 4th down. Right? Why wasn’t it turnover on downs?

  • Don

    It’s because the penalty results in an automatic first down. If it had been ruled that the Steelers had gotten possession, the penalty gets marked off and it’s Steelers ball. Since they incorrectly ruled Clark did NOT gain possession, they mark off the penalty, Packers keep possession and they get an automatic first. (Although this may be in dispute, as I read on a different thread that the automatic first down does not apply to a blocked kick. I honestly don’t know about that.)

    Boy, it’s great we don’t have to deal with the replacement referees, huh?

  • Shelob9

    Yes I think you are right. I read Mike Pereira and he said, I think, that Ryan Clark should have been ruled down by contact, which would make it Steelers ball. Since he didn’t have procession, some how, the ruling of illegal batting and 1st down GB is therefore correct. Stupid call by Clark to try the lateral and stupid call by the refs not to call him down by contact. Seems like they were trying to make things right for ruling Bell down on the play a few plays before, which should have been a TD for GB.

  • CrazyTerry

    Two things: Pittsburgh CLEARLy did have possession. So refs messed up regardless of the rules.
    Second: The rule is STUPID. If the Steelers supposedly never had possession, shouldn’t a batted ball be moot since there is no fumble????A blocked FG is a blocked FG until one team gets possession on the block. Since no one supposedly got it, the rule should render such penalties moot in an ideal world. Simplify the damn rules and you won’t have such confusion. It’s either a blocked FG or all regular football rules come into play AFTER change of possession.

  • CrazyTerry

    how do you miss that lateral?

  • CrazyTerry

    Another thing: what is the rule on a lateral? If Clark’s knee is down, and he lateraled before being touched by GB, is the play dead at that point? And if so , why should any ensuing penalties count? What I am confused is even if the refs called it correctly on the possession, would the steelers offense have to start the drive with the penalty yyards marked off?

  • Weiss Chad

    Goodelle will do what he thinks is right and fine james Harrison.lmao

  • Steelerbob

    Steelers had possession for sure, but i dont think clark was down. it looks like he might not have been touched until after he gets rid of it, so down by contact might not have been the case either.

  • Nolrog

    Tomlin made a mistake and it cost him 100K. Terence Garvin made a mistake and it cost him 25K. Why should the refs be any different?

  • Nolrog

    No. In the NFL, the play keeps going until he’s touched. Since Clark was not touched, he could have gotten up and run for a TD or lateralled the ball back like he did.

    In college, you’re down as soon as your knee touches, even if someone didn’t touch you, but not in the pros.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    All of this “not challengeable” stuff is just junk.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Forget the refs, what in the world is Ryan Clark and Ziggy Hood thinking. It in the snow you two idiots. Get on the ball and cover it up. Got to be two of the dumbest plays I’ve seen yesterday.

  • Betz Smiff

    This was a scoring play, shouldn’t it have been automatically reviewed?

  • Betz Smiff

    Wasn’t “possession” challenged when LeVeon bell was ruled down before he fumbled?

  • Chad H

    The refs every year change the out come of games. The NFL wanted the packers to win and make the playoffs. I’m not the the only one who saw it in this game. You could see the pain on the refs faces when they had to call a penalty on GB. Look how slow they where to blow the whistle when Bell was wrapped up. They where waiting for the ball to get ripped out.

  • Jeff

    You fine players and coaches for doing things that are illegal. The referee screwed up on a judgment call. Completely different.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Not sure how they missed that he was clearly down with possession.

  • Don

    Exactly, Ziggy Hood should know that you never bat a fumble forward..I knew as soon as he hit it that it was going to give the Packers the ball back..Pro players should have better awareness about their own profession.

  • Joel MC

    “While the ball is in the air or rolling on the ground following a punt or field-goal attempt and receiving team commits a foul only before or after gaining possession, receiving team will retain possession and will be penalized for its foul.”

  • Joel MC

    Hmmm, “While the ball is in the air or rolling on the ground following a punt or field-goal attempt and receiving team commits a foul only before or after gaining possession, receiving team will retain possession and will be penalized for its foul.”

  • Asmitty56

    Yea but if it were any other job they’d be fired. They’re lucky the union protects them because a lot of them deserve to be out on their ass for the countless mistakes. Either make more plays reviewable or put more referees on the field.

  • Jeff

    Ok, so every time a referee makes a bad call they should be fired? By that logic, you’d be firing NFL officials after every game, only to be replaced by officials who will also blow calls on occasion. They don’t just grab these guys off the street. They’re good, and have made it up through the ranks. I’m sure the play will be reviewed by the NFL and the officials will be hearing about it.

    I like your idea of adding more referees to the field. It’s never going to be perfect though.

  • Asmitty56

    Depends on how often they screw up. They should at lest be held responsible and fined. They should have pushed for the full time refs.

  • lauren

    Well let’s just say that Gay caught the ball and ran down for a touchdown. They would review the play, rule Clark as down, and take away the touchdown.

  • dennisdoubleday

    How is it “not reviewable” whether he had possession or not? There are constant reviews of whether or not a player had possession…that’s what MOST reviews are about. Really don’t get that one.

  • Lucas Shaffer

    I think he was just trying to get it out of bounds so the Packers could not run it in the end zone.

  • CrazyTerry

    How was he to know that the penalty would actually reverse possession. As far as he probably knew, he was willing to risk a penalty to retain possession and have our offense come on the field in worse position by 5 or 10 yards.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Exactly since there was a change of possession you would think the refs would want to get the call right. Officiating has been pretty inconsistent this season.

  • Shelob9

    From what I understand from doing some research on this is if Clark had possession, wasn’t down and lateraled, then it would be Steelers ball with a half the distance to the goal penalty from where the ball went out of bounds. If Clark had possession and was down then I don’t think there is a penalty on Hood, result is Steelers ball where he was down.

    Given that Clark didn’t have possession, the correct call was automatic first down for illegal batting. Since Hood batted the ball forward, not sideways or backwards, the batting was in fact illegal.

  • Don2727

    Players should know not to knock a fumble forward..

  • Don2727

    I agree..of course it wasn’t intentional..but awareness of what you can and cannot do legally if you are on a special teams unit is important.

  • Don2727

    That’s exactly what would have happened if anybody scored on that play..

  • Richard Cetrone

    It’s time Goodell held the referee’s to the same standards that he holds the players and coaches. Worst officials in all of sports.

  • Dan

    Once a field goal is missed on 4th down, I don’t see how there can be any contention that posession is not with the defending team. Even if you are so blind as to miss our guy taking a couple steps with the ball. If Phil Luckett and Jeff Triplette got together and had a baby, that baby could not have made such a BS call.

  • Dan

    The only reason I can think of is that they never considered the Steelers to have had the ball, therefore no change of posession, and the try was no good so no score… If there’s no ruling of change of possession and no ruling of score I guess it’s not challengeable, but we should have been able to challenge that we had possession. It may also be that the refs missed the play due to fecal matter blurring their visions since their heads were in their arses.

  • Jeff

    Hahaha you all are ridiculous I’m just gunna say it…. You really think these referees have some type of alternative motive??? Come on….

  • Asmitty56

    No, I just think they’re incompetent

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