Steelers-Bears referee explains illegal bat call after blocked field goal

Sporting News
Referee Clete Blakeman explained the illegal bat call he made on arguably the wildest play of Week 3 in the NFL.

Steelers-Bears referee explains illegal bat call after blocked field goal

Referee Clete Blakeman explained the illegal bat call he made on arguably the wildest play of Week 3 in the NFL.

On arguably the most wild play of Week 3 in the NFL, the Bears caught a huge break.

While returning a blocked field goal on the final play of the first half for what should have been an easy touchdown, Chicago corner Marcus Cooper slowed down as he neared the Pittsburgh goal line and allowed Steelers tight end Vance McDonald to hit him and force a fumble at the 1-yard line.

The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone for an apparent touchback, but upon review, Steelers punter Jordan Berry was caught illegally batting the ball. The penalty gave the Bears an untimed down at the Steelers' 1-yard line, and Chicago kicked a field goal as the first-half clock expired.

MORE: Steelers-Bears box score, stats

Here's the play:


If you're still confused, we understand.

Here is referee Clete Blakeman's explanation of the play and the call, courtesy of the Bears.

On original call on blocked field goal, fumble by Marcus Cooper at Pittsburgh 1:

"The original call was the runner had fumbled at the 1, and then there was a bat in the end zone, which is an illegal bat. It was originally the offensive team, the kicking team, that committed the bat. So the original call was that we wouldn't extend the period on that. Then we got into replay."

Confusion on the play?

"The kicking team (Pittsburgh) is offense. The defense (Chicago) is defense. But when we have a block and a return, now what happens is that they flip-flop designations. So in this case, the return team, originally the defense, now becomes offense, and the kicking team is now defense. ... The fumble, we confirmed with replay that it did occur at the 1. Now we got a loose-ball fumble in the end zone, and it gets batted by the defense, which is Pittsburgh. We go back to the spot of the fumble to enforce that penalty against the defense, so we go from the 1 to the half-yard line. And because it’s a foul against the defense, we now extend for an untimed down."

If ball would have gone out of bounds without any infraction (batting)?

"(The ruling would be) touchback." (Pittsburgh ball on its own 20)

If Pittsburgh would have recovered fumble?

"(Still) a touchback."

If Bears would have recovered fumble in end zone?

"Because we’re inside of two minutes of the first half, any fumble situation like that we would go back to the spot of the fumble." (Bears ball at the 1. Half would be over.)

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