The NFL replacement referees have not been around for over a month, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell that watching Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers-New York Giants game.
The Steelers overcame at least two bad calls from the officials to beat the Giants 24-20.
In the second quarter, the Giants were down 7-0 and had a third-and-goal from the two. Eli Manning scrambled after not being able to find anything in the end zone, and then he fired for Victor Cruz. The ball was nearly intercepted by Steelers CB Ike Taylor, who stepped in front of Cruz. Safety Ryan Clark came across and crushed Cruz, laying him out with a shoulder-first hit. Clark was penalized for a personal foul after the officials say he hit Cruz in the head. Replays showed that he led with his shoulder.
FOX NFL rules analyst Mike Pereira disagreed with the call. “That is not a blow to the head and not a foul. Pass had not even hit the ground yet,” he wrote on Twitter.
Instead of having a fourth-and-goal from the two, the Giants were first-and-goal from the one and scored on the next play. That was a four-point difference.
The Giants benefited from another questionable call a few plays later.
The Steelers had a second-and-five situation at the New York 32 with 5:27 left in the first half. Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora came around the edge and tipped a ball as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was getting ready to pass (pictured above). The ball came out of Roethlisberger’s hand, and Giants linebacker Michael Boley picked it up and ran for a touchdown to give New York a 14-7 lead. Replays seemed to indicate that Roethlisberger still had control of the ball as his arm was coming forward, meaning it should have been an incomplete pass instead of a fumble. Pereira felt the same way.
“[The referee] felt ball was loose after contact by Osi. Very tight play. I think he still had control. In my opinion it was an incomplete pass.”
Most people felt it should have been ruled an incomplete pass. That’s a matter of 11 points that went to the Giants that maybe would not have been scored otherwise.
For the Steelers to overcome those calls to win makes their victory even more impressive than the score indicates.
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