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Explaining the situation, and gaffe, at the end of regulation in Steelers vs. Seahawks

The Pittsburgh Steelers were winners in Week 6, but not without some serious questions around the end of regulation.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

If you are someone who was able to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6 on Sunday Night Football, you probably have some questions about the sequence that took place at the end of regulation.

In case you forget, Geno Smith completed a pass to D.K. Metcalf, who, instead of running out of bounds to stop the clock, made a move inside where James Pierre forced a fumble. Seattle recovered the football and rushed the ball to midfield to try and spike the ball to stop the clock.

On NBC’s film it looked as if the Seahawks were slow, and the clock showed nothing but zeroes on it.

Then the whistles sounded.

Suddenly the head official said the previous play was under review for a completed pass.

Steelers Twitter was ablaze with confusion and angst over the Steelers getting potentially hosed by this review. Mike Tomlin was visibly angry on the sideline. For even the casual viewer, there was no doubt Metcalf caught the ball, made at last one “football move” before putting the ball on the turf.

This was the result of the stoppage, and 3 seconds were placed back on the clock. Enough time for Smith and the Seattle offense to spike the ball, and get the field goal unit out to send the game to overtime.

After the game everyone wanted to know what went wrong. How did the officials botch the call? Some even suggested there should have been a 10 second runoff, therefore ending the game.

Those who believe there should have been a runoff are just wrong. See below from the NFL’s official rulebook on resetting the game clock after a review, as well as what is required for there to be a 10-second run off.


When a ruling is changed in replay, the clock status following review is determined by Rule 4-3, and the game clock will be reset to the time when the ball should have been declared dead. The game clock is not reset if the on-field ruling is not changed in replay.


When a changed ruling results in a running clock for plays that begin after the two-minute warning, the clock is reset to the time when the play should have ended, and the clock will run for 10 seconds from the reset time. If less than 10 seconds remain in the half or the game, the half or the game is over.

Note: Neither team may decline a 10-second runoff under this Article, but either team can avoid the 10-second runoff by taking a charged team timeout. If the 10-second runoff is avoided, the game clock will be reset to the time when the play should have ended and will start on the snap.

In other words, since there was no change in the call, there is no 10-second runoff. For there to have been a runoff, the officials would have ruled the Metcalf play incomplete, which would have stopped the clock, only to have it reversed to a catch. In this instance, 10 seconds would have run off the clock.

We all know at this point how the game ended, but it didn’t mean Tomlin and company were happy with what went down.

“I just hated it.” Tomlin said after the game. “I cannot believe that game was stopped to confirm catch, no catch in that moment. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Of course, Tomlin was pressed on the issue.

“That’s all I’m going to say. It was an embarrassment.”

When you look at how the game unfolded in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, the only thing the Steelers could be frustrated with was how the challenge gave the Seahawks more time to get their team in order before the end of the fourth quarter. The game clock, not the clock on the TV screen, clearly showed Geno Smith clock the ball with 1 second remaining. It would have meant the Seahawks had 40 seconds to get their kicking unit on the field for the game-tying kick. Something they did anyways after the officials put 3 seconds back on the clock, Seattle chose to clock the ball and then kick the field goal.

It was a weird challenge by the official in the booth, mainly because it was blatantly obvious Metcalf caught the football and then fumbled it, but it doesn’t seem as if the Seahawks ultimately benefited from the stoppage in play. Some may disagree and suggest the extra time was a big difference maker, but the fact remains it likely didn’t change the outcome.

Just be thankful the Steelers were able to find a way to win in overtime...

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they get some necessary rest and relaxation heading into their Week 7 bye week.