January 23, 2011
Before William Gay(notes) had even crossed the goal line, CBS announcer Jim Nantz was openly questioning whether the fumble recovered by the Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback late in the first half of the AFC championship was legit. New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez(notes) had lost the ball while in a throwing motion and if it was determined upon replay that his arm had been going forward before Ike Taylor(notes) jarred the ball loose, the Jets would get the ball back.
It was either a fumble, a Pittsburgh touchdown and a 24-point halftime lead or an incomplete pass and the Jets ball.
I've watched that replay a dozen times and don't see the ball coming loose before the hand goes forward, which was Hochuli's explanation for upholding the touchdown. That being said, I also don't see any evidence that the call on the field was wrong and/or should have been overturned. It was the epitome of a bang-bang play. I say it's a pass, but I can't argue with the call on the field. Then again, I had no rooting interest in the game. Fans in the New York-area likely disagree.
Take comfort though, Jets fans. Even if it had been ruled that Sanchez threw the ball, the Steelers still may have scored a touchdown. Taylor hits Sanchez when the ball is close to the 20-yard line. When the ball flutters to the ground, it's closer to the 19. If Hochuli had ruled that the ball traveled backward, it should have been ruled a lateral and the ball would have been live.
No harm, no foul.
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