For much of Sunday night’s game, it looked like the decision by Chargers coach Norv Turner not to toss his red handkerchief on the first drive of the game seemed barely relevant, given the 28-point hole into which Turner’s team fell.
In hindsight, however, it might have made a difference down the stretch, since maybe the Chargers wouldn’t have been storming back from such a deep deficit.
We’re talking about a 35-yard pass from Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to rookie receiver Mike Wallace, which moved the ball from the San Diego 49 to the San Diego 14. (A link to the highlight appears in the official play-by-play.)
Two plays later, the Steelers scored the first touchdown of the game.
After further review, Wallace didn’t get two feet in bounds after making the catch. Two years ago, it would have been ruled a good catch, under the now-defunct “force out” rule. Now, however, the player still must get both feet down — and Wallace didn’t.
And so Turner should have asked for a replay review. If he had, the Steelers would have faced second down and 10 from the Chargers 49.
Though we’d have to take the game back to that point and press “play” in order to determine the ultimate impact (if any) on the outcome, any opportuniy on the opening drive to take 35 yards away the team with the ball must be utilized. While Turner himself probably wasn’t responsible for the screw up, he gets the credit when it works, and the blame when it doesn’t.