Packers and Steelers miffed with officials

Dec. 23, 2013

Justified or not, neither the Green Bay Packers nor the Pittsburgh Steelers were happy with some of the officials’ decisions in Sunday’s game at Lambeau Field.

Despite pulling out a 38-31 win over the Packers, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin still voiced his frustration afterward regarding the referees’ third-quarter ruling following a 23-yard blocked field goal of Packers kicker Mason Crosby.

After Crosby’s low kick was blocked, Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark tried to corral it but then pitched it back to defensive lineman Ziggy Hood, who then illegally batted the ball forward to draw a five-yard penalty and give the Packers a new set of downs.

Head official Carl Cheffers told the pool reporter after the game the referees ruled after a long conference that the Steelers never possessed the ball, so the Packers resumed control at the Packers’ 3-yard line (half the distance to the goal line).

It was a tricky situation and the craziest Steelers 35-year-old defensive lineman Brett Keisel said he hadn’t seen unfold in his 12 years in the league.

“They screwed it up in my opinion, but I will wait to hear judgment from those that evaluate performance,” Tomlin said. “We got penalized on the play for batting, but I thought we had possession (Clark) of the ball prior to batting. It would have been our possession, so we should have maintained possession of the ball, but obviously it didn’t unfold in that way.

“I wanted to challenge it, but they said it was not a challengeable play.”

On the Packers’ sideline, many offensive linemen were left scratching their heads following a strange turn of events in the final 10 seconds of the game.

The Packers attempted to go no-huddle after James Starks rushed to the Pittsburgh 1-yard line, but were flagged for a false start on right tackle Don Barclay (likely meant for right guard T.J. Lang).

Because it happened within two minutes and the Packers didn’t have any timeouts, it resulted in a 10 second runoff and 10 seconds left on the clock once the officials restarted the play.

Cheffers signaled for the umpire to stand over the ball until the clock was restarted with center Evan Dietrich-Smith and the rest of the line having to stand and wait for play to resume.

Once it did, 7 seconds ticked off the clock as quarterback Matt Flynn checked receivers Jarrett Boykin and Jordy Nelson into slant routes. He seemed to have Nelson open underneath but forced it high to Boykin en route to an incompletion as time expired.

Dietrich-Smith and Barclay were both confused about the referees’ actions on the play. Once the clock restarted, Cheffers appeared to come forward and say something to Flynn with about 5 seconds remaining (likely notifying him the clock was running).

Initially planning to run two plays, Dietrich-Smith snapped the ball with 3 seconds left on the clock and realistically only one shot at scoring.

It didn't appear the clock started running until Cheffers and his umpire were back in their positions, but inside linebacker A.J. Hawk felt the communication after the false start call might have tripped up the offense’s timing once play resumed.

“I know he was going to count off 10, but then the ref came in and kind of stopped him,” Hawk said. “I think that might’ve thrown them for a loop a little bit because they were going to going to snap the ball. The ref came in for whatever reason and the clock was basically running while he was in there. So yeah, that’s big. You get a 10-second run-off, to have him get in there when you’re about to snap it.”

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