Steelers lose 10-point swing on incorrect, touchdown-removing offside call

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With 20 seconds left in the first half of the game between the Packers and Steelers, Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby attempted a 31-yard field goal, which was blocked by cornerback Joe Haden. The ball was recovered by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, and returned 75 yards for what would have put the Steelers ahead, 17-14.

But Haden was flagged for an offside call by referee Scott Novak and his crew, the touchdown was negated, and Crosby kicked a 26-yard field goal on the do-over to give Green Bay a 17-14 halftime lead.

But was Haden offside? On the replay, it definitely appeared as if Haden started to move to the ball at the same time long-snapper Hunter Bradley snapped the ball. And if that’s the case, the touchdown obviously should have stood. That’s a 10-point swing.

Gene Steratore, former NFL official and CBS’s rules analyst, had this to say to commentators Jim Nantz and Tony Romo:

“I got a good shot from the high end zone, and I can say this to you: It always feels like they’re offside if they get that snap and time it perfectly. It’s difficult to see unless you’re right down the line. But if you watch Bradley moving that ball as the center, everybody starts moving right at the same time. Which gives you the feeling that they’re over, but this is a play of inches, guys, and this is really, really tight.”

Which is another way to say that Novak and his crew blew this very important call.

Novak and his crew, by the way, also missed a delay of game call on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in Week 3 that would have sent Justin Tucker’s record-setting, game-winning 66-yard field goal back another five yards. So, Novak should not expect any happy thoughts from anybody in the Pittsburgh area for a while.