Pittsburgh Steelers fans around the globe were dumbfounded.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady attempted to perform what looked like a meaningless quarterback sneak to get a first down for his team around midfield. Suddenly, members of the Steelers defense stood up pointing they had the football.
Fans perked up on their couches wondering if this could be the turnover which turned the game around.
Television took to replay after Mike Tomlin challenged the call, and it looked as if there were too many bodies obstructing the view of the ball possibly being knocked from Brady’s grasp.
Then, a replay angle showed the ball starting to move prior to his arm being down, and everyone saw Javon Hargrave come up with the ball out of the pile.
Boom! Just what the doctor ordered! What a timely turnover!
Then came Terry McAulay onto the field to announce there was no clear evidence of a clean recovery, and the call on the field (down by contact), stood.
The firestorm hit social media faster than you can imagine, and on Tuesday, the NFL responded with a statement, and video, for fans wondering what exactly happened on Sunday night.
NFL senior V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino said in the following video, ““Brady takes the ball, he sneaks for a first down, the ball is going to come loose,” Blandino said. “Eventually, Pittsburgh is going to come out of the pile. . . . Pittsburgh 79 (Hargrave) does have the football. But that is not evidence of a clear recovery.”
In other words, Blandino and the NFL are suggesting a Patriots player could have had the football, let it go when the officials blew the whistle, and Hargrave recovered the ball.
“If we don’t have video evidence of the Pittsburgh player actually controlling and possessing the ball before the pile ensues, we can’t overturn the ruling on the field,” Blandino said. “In that pile, the officials are telling the players, we’ve ruled down by contact. One player may have it, he may listen to the officials and let go, and another player may grab it.”
“Pittsburgh challenged that there was a fumble that that they clearly recovered the ball, and that is what the referee announced,” Blandino said. “The referee announced that Pittsburgh challenged that there was a fumble and that they clearly recovered. He wasn’t saying that the officials on the field ruled a clear recovery for Pittsburgh. The officials on the field ruled down by contact. They didn’t rule on the recovery. There was some confusion as to the announcement, as to the referee saying clear recovery, but all he was saying was what Pittsburgh thought the ruling on the field should have been.”
In conclusion, although the ruling on the field of down by contact was wrong, the officials felt they didn’t have enough visual evidence to show Pittsburgh recovered the football, even though black and gold fans everywhere will adamantly disagree with that thought process.