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.