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Hey Pittsburgh, your Steelers didn't make the playoffs, but the NFL is really sorry about missing a penalty which helped keep you out.
Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop missed a 41-yard field goal in the final seconds against the Chargers. Had Succop made the kick, Pittsburgh would have made the playoffs. Instead, San Diego rallied, won in overtime and got the sixth seed.
But Succop should have been kicking again after a penalty moved the Chiefs ahead five yards.
The Chargers lined up with seven men on the line of scrimmage to one side of the snapper. That's a penalty, or at least it should be. It's very fortunate for San Diego that the officials never caught it, or the Chargers coaching staff would have been rightfully ripped for the players lining up in an illegal way on a key play.
But, the officials never saw it, Succop missed, and all the league could say on Monday was "oops." Here's the NFL's statement, via NFL.com:
"With 0:08 remaining in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers, Kansas City faced a fourth-and-12 from the San Diego 23. The Chiefs attempted a 41-yard field that was no good," the league said in a statement. "On the play, San Diego lined up with seven men on one side of the snapper. This should have been penalized as an illegal formation by the defense.
"Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3(b)(1) of the NFL Rule Book (page 51) states that 'No more than six Team B players may be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper at the snap.' The rule was adopted this year as a player safety measure.
"The penalty for illegal formation by the defense is a loss of five yards. This rule is not subject to instant replay review. Had the penalty been assessed, it would have resulted in a fourth-and-7 from the San Diego 18 with 0:04 remaining, enabling the Chiefs to attempt a 36-yard field goal."
That should make Pittsburgh fans feel better.
The NFL officials have not had a very good year. There have been a number of missed calls this season. This one was not a judgment call, it was a black-and-white rule that the officials simply missed. And it might have directly affected one of the 12 playoffs spots (although there's no guarantee Succop would have made a second try, he missed just one of 16 attempts inside 40 yards all season).
The NFL admitted the error. Too bad that means nothing for the Steelers.
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