Sunday was a frustrating day for many Steelers fans. It wasn’t just the fact the Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers 27–17 at Lambeau Field, it was the whole experience got off on the wrong foot. With Steelers fans across the country excited that the majority of them would be able to see their team take on the Packers with a 4:25 PM kickoff, only those stations in the local markets for each team actually switched over to the late afternoon game. Instead, they were forced into waiting for the end of the overtime coverage of the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets. For many viewers, the Steelers game did not come on until the final play of the first quarter.
But this is not the deprived situation I am focusing on today.
Although the NFL and their TV contracts did screw up a lot of Steelers fans and their ability to watch the beginning of the game, the NFL ineptitude took away the second half of the game which many Steelers fans could have seen and were looking forward to for some time.
Yes, I’m talking about the blown call on the blocked field goal which of the Steelers returned for a touchdown just before halftime.
Not wanting to rehash the play in too many details simply because it only makes me more frustrated, Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick perfectly timed the snap of the field goal attempt to come through the line where Fitzpatrick blocked the kick, scooped it up, and returned it for a score. Unfortunately, well after the kick was blocked, an official decided to drop a flag and say that the players were offside. It’s not like the official could have seen the players be offside because camera angles showed they, in fact, were not. Instead, it appears the officials acted much like announcer Tony Romo who just assumed that the players must have been offsides if they got across the line that quickly.
I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.
Imagine if flags had been thrown on Troy Polamalu when he used to perfectly time the snap and leap over the offensive line. Is it possible that Polamalu was that good of a player to time it perfectly? Yes, he was. And those plays were wisely not flagged. Unfortunately, Pro Bowler Joe Haden and All-Pro Minkah Fitzpatrick must not get the same respect as Polamalu as the official decided to flag them for their perfectly timed rush.
As much as I could go on about how it was such a bad call, what ultimately frustrates me is that the entire second half of the game in Green Bay on Sunday was played out in a different manner. Yes, it was a 10-point swing by dropping the laundry on the field, but simply looking at the game and thinking the 10 points would erase the ultimate deficit and the game would have gone into overtime is a bit naïve.
This game would have played out completely different.
I’m not going to say that the Steelers would have definitely won the game. For all I know, they could have lost by an even greater margin. But what I ultimately wanted to see is how both teams would have handled the situation.
Instead of the Steelers being down 17-10 after Green Bay was able to kick a field goal seconds before halftime, The ultimate score would have been, assuming Chris Boswell connected on the extra point, 17-14 Steelers at the break. This would have significantly changed both team’s halftime strategies and how they played things throughout the remainder of the game.
There was a somewhat decent chance the Packers would put up a very similar drive to open the second half as they did and put three points on the board. But instead of being a 10-point game, it simply would have been tied. Everything both teams did from that point on would have been with a completely different strategy.
The reason I believe this was important and the Steelers fans ultimately deserve to see a game play out in this manner is, first and foremost, that it would have been the correct call. The Steelers should have had a touchdown and it’s how the game should have played out.
Additionally, it would have been nice to see how the Pittsburgh Steelers handled the halftime lead. When was the last time the Steelers had the lead at the midway point of the game? For that one, you have to go back to Week 13 of 2020 in the game against the Washington Football Team, which ended the win streak, where the Steelers had a 14-3 halftime lead.
Instead, the Pittsburgh Steelers ended up playing a game where their first possession of the second-half already saw them down two scores. Had the Steelers been in a tie game or even had the lead, perhaps there would have been more rushing attempts by Najee Harris. Perhaps Ben Roethlisberger would have been a little bit more at ease and therefore slightly more accurate on some of his throws. None of these are guaranteed, but wouldn’t it have been nice to see if it were possible?
I’m not getting into the debate of whether or not the blocked field goal should have been reviewable. While ultimately the NFL and their fans want to get these calls correct, I’m also frustrated with the review process continually having correct calls be “corrected” incorrectly. If you want a perfect example of this, look back at the pass interference call in Week 2 of 2019 when the Steelers hosted the Seattle Seahawks.
Ultimately, I just want the officials to get the call right in the first place. I can understand missing a call where the official didn’t see that something happened. Unfortunately, this is not the case in this situation. This time, the official threw a flag on something they didn’t actually see. And how do we know they didn’t see it? Because it didn’t happen. So now the official was flagging something saying a team did something they didn’t actually do.
I’m also not going as far to say this call cost the Steelers the game. It very well might have done so. It also may have not. What I am most disappointed in is the fact the game that should have happened, particularly the entire second half, never occurred because the official interjected himself into a situation where they didn’t need to be.
We will never know how the second half of the Steelers and Packers game would have played out had the halftime score been 17-14, but it would have been really nice to actually be able to see that game.