Hope you didn’t bet on it!

This update (11/18/08) just in from the NFL news:

After watching an officiating mistake that cost Pittsburgh its final touchdown Sunday, Goodell expressed to the competition committee that he would like to make an administrative change before the NFL playoffs to prevent those mistakes from happening again.

The procedural modification would allow the referee on the field to consult with the replay booth more than once on a specific play. As it is, the referee can consult with the booth only once.So, did you see that historic NFL game yesterday? The one that ended 11-10 with Pittsburgh beating San Diego? Well something is smelly in Steel Town – I suspect the officiating, which has had an unusually bad time this season already, is once more to blame.

So the bottom line is the refs blew it – now I wonder how they’ll handle it if the final score has anything to do with determing what teams make the plays-off – that’s possible, I think, but not likely.

Original post follows

There’s no doubt Pttsburgh won. So who cares? Maybe some gamblers do – and all of the record-happy sports fans must. That 11-10 score is cool because in the long history of the NFL – more than 12,000 games – there has never been such a final score – never. And as it turns out, it’s doubtful there should have been this time. I still have it on Tivo, so I just rewatched the final, controversial play and I don’t see anything controversial about it except that the refs called it wrong. Here’s what happened.

1. There was a short forward pass to a running back. he was in almost immediate danger of being tackled, so he lateralled to another player.

2. That player, a couple seconds later, tried to lateral to a third player. This second lateral was knocked out of the air by a Pittsburgh player, scooped up, and run into the endzone – perfectly legal since any lateral is treated the same as a fumble.

3. Pittsburgh gets set to kick the extra point – at this point the score is shown as 17-10 – and suddenly the refs decide to review the play. While they’re reviewing it Phil Simms shows it a couple of times on TV and each time concludes -as I did – that there was nothing illegal, nothing even close to being wrong with the play.

4. So it was a shock when the ref said the play included an illegal forward pass, that the penalty was declined by Pittsburgh, the clock had run out and the game was over. No extra point was kicked, so the score never was 18-10.

OK – no one seemed all that upset, but there is more. I’ve read several descriptions trying to make sense of this, but this one is as good as any:

After Reed’s kick gave the Steelers a one-point lead, a series of last-ditch laterals by the Chargers (4-6) on their final offensive play resulted in Troy Polamalu crashing into the end zone with what appeared to be a fumble-return touchdown.

But the officials huddled and, after a booth review, referee Scott Green waved off the score.

Green later gave a cryptic explanation to a pool reporter, suggesting the touchdown should have stood.

I agree – the touchdown should have stood. What I can’t understand is how they could mess it up so when actually reviewing the video. So I assume this one goes in the record books with an asterisk. Kinda takes the fun out of it, but the scpre should be 17-10, a very ordinary score. Well, since extra points are almost always made, it should be 18-10, which may be quite unusual – I don’t know. But it can never be 18-10 because while the touchdown was made, the extra point was never kicked.

The best comment to date is in the same Erie Times-News article quoted above:

During his postgame news conference, coach Mike Tomlin refused to discuss the officials.

But moments after the game, as he stood in the tunnel outside the Steelers’ locker room waiting to congratulate players coming in from the field, Tomlin turned to a group of reporters and shouted, “The final explanation is the officiating sucked.”

Of course, saying stuff like that gets you fined. Wonder what the league will do – admit iofficiating sucked, fine Tomlin – niether – or both?