The Packers almost completed another miracle comeback but the football Gods decided not to honor their prayers at least not on this night.
With time on the wane, the Packers had advanced inside the Steelers five yard line. The officials called a false start penalty on right tackle Don Barclay on second-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 20 seconds left in the game. Packers guard T.J. Lang was incorrectly flagged for the violation because center Evan Dietrich-Smith said it was his fault for snapping the ball late. Well, whoever the penalty was on, it was still a false start.
Barclay seemed to have a bit more on his tongue, than sour grapes. This was his post game comment. “After that, we backed up 5 [yards] and we were all sitting in their stance, and the ref was hovering over Dietrich and wouldn’t let us snap the ball. I don’t know for what reason. Time was just ticking; he was just sitting there on Dietrich. I don’t have an answer for that.”
Maybe someone, preferably the Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy should have explained the rules to his players who seemed to be just a tad cloudy on the issue. This was Matt Flynn’s take on the Packers final play. “We knew we were going to get a runoff, we knew the clock was going to run and so we got everybody lined up. We should have been able to get two plays off. We thought that the operation, getting the ball down and the clock started was a little bit weird. But we should’ve been able to get two plays off. We went as fast as we could.”
Speaking of rules it is stupid to have instant replay if it cannot be used in all “change of possession” issues. The officials got away with a huge gaffe earlier in the game after the Steelers had successfully blocked a Packers field goal attempt but were called for “batting.” This is how it was explained. If a team blocks a field goal attempt and doesn’t establish possession and the ball is “batted” forward well almost like an illegal forward pass, the team attempting the field goal is rewarded a “new” possession.
The Packers made the most out of that second chance, eventually scoring a touchdown from the “gift.” Why do I call it a “gift?” Well because instant replay revealed that Pittsburgh had established possession. The knee of Steelers defensive back Ryan Clark was down after he recovered the errant kick and before he attempted his lateral to Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood who was flagged for the “batting” violation.
Ziggy Hood should never been penalized, period. Remember boys and girls—the defensive team can only be penalized for “batting” if possession is not established. Where are the “replacement” officials when you need them? The Steelers defense might be getting a bit long in the tooth but does it appear that a few of the “enforcers” in the NFL may be in need of an eye exam and a new set of contact lenses and/or glasses.
The Steelers ultimately defeated the Packers 38-31 in spite of the dice being loaded against Pittsburgh, bah humbug.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741)