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Officiating error gave Steelers a nine-yard first down

Mike Tomlin

The first rule of getting the benefit of an officiating error is not to talk about getting the benefit of an officiating error.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin violated that unwritten provision on Tuesday, openly acknowledging the fact that his team received the benefit of a nine-yard first down in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Jets.

On a play that started at the Jets’ 35, running back Rashard Mendenhall appeared to make it to the 26.  The ball was spotted at the 25, and the Steelers received a first down.  They would cap the drive with a touchdown.

“They spotted it as a first down and, in that situation, it worked in our favor so we moved on,” Tomlin said.  “I did think he was a yard short.”

The same thing happened a week earlier, when it at first appeared that the Redskins received a fifth down to pull with a point of the Buccaneers.  As it turned out, what should have been second and one actually was first and goal from the six.

Bottom line?  In a game of inches, the guy with the ruler has plenty of power.

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59 Responses to “Officiating error gave Steelers a nine-yard first down”
  1. jaggedmark says: Dec 21, 2010 10:56 PM

    For years we’ve been talking about the Steelers getting officiating breaks.

  2. zone44blitz says: Dec 21, 2010 10:57 PM

    Who cares? Bad spots happen all the time. Why is this a headline on ESPN and all the other major sport sites?

  3. jackhall00 says: Dec 21, 2010 10:58 PM

    Not surprised. The Steelers have been given calls by the refs for the last 10 years on orders from the commissioner.
    The Steelers are a “feel good” victory when they win the Super Bowl. Especiallly in middle America where times are tough.

  4. importantpftcomment says: Dec 21, 2010 11:03 PM

    Bottom line? the officials need to quit making so many mistakes!

    @jackhalloo
    Don’t be the back end of a donkey!

  5. caputop says: Dec 21, 2010 11:03 PM

    I always laugh at the exactness of the chains, especially when they are re-spotting a ball that is 2 chain links short of a first down, compared to the looseness of spotting the ball.

  6. FinFan68 says: Dec 21, 2010 11:17 PM

    Calling football a game of inches is almost funny. Yeah, they look like they are ensuring an exact measurement when they bring the chains out, but look at what happens when they declare an obvious first down. Do they ever take an exact measurement initially, throughout the course of the games? Nope, it’s a WAG…that’s why the measurements of the nose of the football so close to the last link of the chain are such a farce. It’s not about actually gaining ten yards from where the original LOS was…it is about gaining ten yards from where the chain gang THINKS the original LOS is, give or take a foot.

  7. jjsteelerfan says: Dec 21, 2010 11:22 PM

    What about the 3 not one but 3 no call pass interference calls!!!! And several no call holding penalties on Harrison???? N’uff said!

  8. intelligentfan says: Dec 21, 2010 11:25 PM

    I’m not a Steeler fan but I absolutely can’t wait until missed calls are made against the “fans” of teams that’s in the Playoffs or Superbowl. Then we truly will see who whines the most when your team loses. I DO NOT like the Steelers and love seeing them lose…but the point is..I’m a football fan and hate to see BS calls by refs or calls that “REAL” fans know should be called but are not called..Those 3 or 4 Def. pass interference missed calls were too obvious and out weighed the 2nd and 1 that was made a 1st down call. I watched the game and seen with my own eyes that Pitt isn’t getting the breaks on anything. Now with that being said, I am a Patriots fan and hope the Steelers play us in the AFCC Game!!!
    GO PATS!!!

  9. bucx01 says: Dec 21, 2010 11:27 PM

    Where was this when the Redskins got a 9 yard 1st two weeks ago that almost cost the Bucs the game. This play happened in the 2st half. Redskins in the last 30 seconds.

    Redskins scored a touchdown on 5th and if the punter didn’t blow it would have tied the game.

    But somehow it is news.

  10. igottz5onit says: Dec 21, 2010 11:35 PM

    Bad calls go both ways. If you think the Steelers are the only recipients of favorable calls, you are obviously just jealous of their success. Many calls went against them in this game but you don’t see them bitching (aside from right after the game, and what hardcore fan is thinking rationally right after a close loss?) Bottom line is the Jets did more to win this game than the Steelers, hence the score.

  11. palinforpresidentofnorthkorea says: Dec 21, 2010 11:36 PM

    Bad spots are a part of the game.

    In other news, James Harrison can still afford to send his children to college.

  12. carryingweight says: Dec 21, 2010 11:37 PM

    If this was the patriots it wouldn’t make news it would just be another game with calls going their way.

  13. pigspigspigspigs says: Dec 21, 2010 11:37 PM

    Well the refs made up for it with their lack of pass interference calls. The last drive of the game phil simms even said “emanuel sanders would have caught the game winning touchdown if he didnt slow down” and upon further review he was being held which was the reason he slowed down.

    It is what it is as they say. The refs cant get every call right, it is the ebb and flow of an NFL game. If you do not want refs to have a chance to control the outcome you should not have put yourself in the position for them to be able to.

    Idiots like jackhalloo will just cry and say the steelers get every call but not even acknowledge that calls go against them as well.

  14. reverseapachemaster says: Dec 21, 2010 11:38 PM

    Yeah. The refs blew that hole game by erroneously calling a 2nd and 1 a first down. The Steelers didn’t even score on that drive. The 5-10 defensive holding/PI penalties that the Jets committed without being flagged are apparently not worth mentioning. Its funny that there would even be a post about this 1st down issue and no one wants to mention that the game has been rigged the whole year to the Steelers detriment.

  15. johntonioholmes says: Dec 21, 2010 11:48 PM

    I knew it, knew it, knew it, knew it, knew it!

    The second they spotted that as a first down, I said to my brothers, “This will be the talk of the week, and no one will even mention that Cromartie interfered with Mike Wallace on back to back plays that would have resulted in long touchdowns.”

    How do you even justify writing an article about bad officiating without pointing out that Sanders had his jersey grabbed on a potential game winning touchdown pass, and no flag was thrown? Three plays later, Sanders is being held in the endzone by Cromartie as Roethlisberger threw a pass that slipped threw Speath’s hands.

    All in all, there were four major pass interference penalties that went uncalled–2 on Wallace and 2 on Sanders. And being that I like defensive football, it takes a lot for me to consider it pass interference.

    That doesn’t even include the 15-20 defensive holding penalties that should have been called.

    You could whine all you want about the Steelers benefiting from an extra down.

    But if you ever EVER watch football, you would know that Revis and Cromartie get away with pass interference more than any tandem in the league.

    Last Sunday was no different, and it cost the Steelers a game, just like it cost the Broncos, Lions, and Browns a game against the Jets.

    Ike Taylor>Derrelle Revis

    He doesn’t have to cheat to cover his receivers.

  16. thataintchocolate says: Dec 21, 2010 11:51 PM

    @reverseapachemaster
    Learn to spell ya dingbat. It’s whole, not hole ya buttwhole.

  17. 6isgr8lamehaters says: Dec 21, 2010 11:53 PM

    Floor-E-O … clearly you don’t want intelligent posts to counter your BS journalism. Just thought I’d remind you that the hind end of a donkey and you have much in common.

    Cheers to a great 2011 and good riddance to this riduculous display of biased, unprofessional journalistic BS.

  18. paulieorkid says: Dec 21, 2010 11:54 PM

    Number one, I’ve seen Tomlin and his team get hosed by bad calls … and he generally says “let’s move on.” That’s his m.o. in the face of bullschitt. The one exception is when he finally hit a tipping point on the sloppy and arbitrarily applied “rules” on fining hitters.

    Bill Cowher had a similar approach in the 2005 playoff game at Indy when Polamalu’s game winning pick was incorrectly ruled a non-catch.

    As Greg Lloyd would say, “Line up and play football.”

    That mindset works for men. It doesn’t for nancy boy fairies who are contaminating this great game.

    Also, second and one is generally considered a more advantageous position than first and ten. Anyone who doesn’t understand that isn’t equipped to talk pig.

    It’s even lamer to phrase the foregoing with words/agenda to the effect that officiating error “gives” Steelers a touchdown.

    Learn the game son.

  19. oldbrowndawg says: Dec 22, 2010 12:10 AM

    This is small stuff. Just watch the tape of the Super Bowl when the refs took away a TD from Seattle and compounded the error by two more lousy calls which helped the Steelers in tight situations (one Rothlisberger even admitted to on a nighttime talk show — the one where they gave him a TD and he was definitely not in). So a 9-yard first down is really a pittance compared to the huge benies they’ve raked in when it counts most — in the big games.

  20. dannylaruso says: Dec 22, 2010 12:19 AM

    Steelers get a free first down that led to a TD and all their fans can do is complain about other calls that didn’t go their way? There is some form of hold on every play of every game, not just to the Steelers. Please stop whining, no one cares about your no calls, and you look pathetic.

  21. jeffperk says: Dec 22, 2010 12:19 AM

    Wow, Steelers getting calls? I am shocked, they never get calls, right?

  22. bnwpnw says: Dec 22, 2010 12:23 AM

    “The first rule of getting the benefit of an officiating error is not to talk about getting the benefit of an officiating error.”

    That pretty much sums up the Steelers legacy. That phrase should be emblazoned on the side of Heinz Ketchup Stadium.

  23. hairpie says: Dec 22, 2010 12:40 AM

    so this is what happens when the team that gets all the calls plays the team the commissioner wont discipline. this should be interesting.

  24. halftermguv says: Dec 22, 2010 12:43 AM

    It was inconsequental, so what? Second and 1 versus first and 10?

    Where’s the NFL’s explanation of Sanders being held by his jersey for a sure TD? Why wasn’t a flag thrown on the Jet lineman with the leg whip on Sanchez’s bootleg?

    I’ll take the loss and move on but its a stupid post to infer favoritism in a game that was clearly swayed by 4 non-calls on the Jets.

  25. szhamilton says: Dec 22, 2010 12:54 AM

    @jackhalloo

    I don’t get your Middle America comment.

  26. sternfan69 says: Dec 22, 2010 1:19 AM

    The irony is that Mendenhall got credit for a 10 yard run on the play instead of the 9 he actually ran and ended up with 100 yards exactly. The announcers said that this was the first 100 yard runner against the Jets in 20 games ( he actually was not ) which you know Rex Ryan takes pride in. Even more importantly, I wonder how many fantasy football teams won because Mendenhall got a 100 yard game bonus.

  27. brintfarvruhsux says: Dec 22, 2010 2:19 AM

    As if this is some startling revelation and it’s not like bad calls only benefit the Steelers…

    The quality of officiating in the NFL is poor because the officials do this a a part-time gig. What do you expect?

  28. philaeagles31 says: Dec 22, 2010 2:32 AM

    The Steelers get a “FREE”Super Bowl XL over the SeaChickens and it’s okay?

    Hello? That was B.S! The NFL GAVE the Lombardi Trophy to Pittsburgh in that game. What B.S!

    It’s one thing to f-up a game or call here or there, but it’s another thing to GIVE a Super Bowl win to Pittsburgh!

    The worst part? The Steeler fans “think” they deserved to win? lol

  29. rsxfan says: Dec 22, 2010 2:50 AM

    I admit I haven’t read all the posts, but, my take on the refs after actually being at the Pats game is this.

    I saw the so called helmet to helmet his sitting in the 300 section then watched it over and over on the “jumbotron” just like Ed “I have to get my ‘guns’ on tv Hocules’ over officiating ref”.

    As the head ref for the game I have to make sure that the Commish who happens to be here tonight sees I’m doing my “job”.

    (For the record I don’t buy into the conspiracy crap, Goodell was sitting in Kraft’s personal booth so that wouldn’t make sense.”

    I do buy into the conspiracy that my biceps are bigger than the average fans waste Hocule’s looked up to the Pats “jumbotron” and decided to throw the PF flag easily 40 – 60 seconds after the play to please his boss. This isn’t a reflection on Goodell, it’s a reflection on the vague rule of “helmet to helmet”. The hit in question is the classic example of how it can look worse in slo mo than in real time. Now I’m not defending Mcourtney because I need to see it again, but my first 5-7 times watching it, it looks clean at full speed but wrong undr the new rules at slow speed.

    The league/commish has gone knee jerk after players and forgotten that the difference between helmet to helmet and clean is about 1/1000 of a second.

    Want to pop a repeat guy that leaves his feet for a a receiver that is full verticle, fine. I’m with you. But you have to give a bit of discretion to Mcourtney’s hit. It was old school football and not even in the hard school sense, just good football.

    I hate the Steelers being a Pats fan but I will join their bandwagon if the Pats get eliminated in the playoffs and the Steelers continue. Why? Because they are old school in modern times, and I miss that.

  30. bspurloc says: Dec 22, 2010 3:11 AM

    .
    Bottom line? a game going 900mph has some UNAVOIDABLE hits that happen. some are seen some arent…..

    I am pretty sure everyone saw cutler get a helmet into his face mask that jumped up from a chest hit….

    oh if it were brady or peyton that happened too, yellow would be everywhere

  31. contract says: Dec 22, 2010 4:03 AM

    This is what happens when the chain gang gets high before kickoff.

  32. thetooloftools says: Dec 22, 2010 4:10 AM

    So what? !
    A tremendous coach I once had told me if it comes down to one play, “we don’t deserve to win”.
    His name was Mike Crawford from Lewistown Pa. and he was the biggest ass kicker I ever met in my life.
    1968 69 70 71 72 undefeated untied CHAMPIONS.
    You stepped on the field with The Heights Bombers…you were in a world of pain.
    We had kids on the other side of the ball crying during games because they didn’t want to play anymore.
    They weren’t having “fun”?
    It was awesome.
    I can’t even describe the pleasure of administering that pain and how good it felt just plowing into someone.
    Better then drugs (sorry but it is what it is).
    1 play.
    player please.
    Coach Crawford didn’t get inside our heads, he ripped our skulls out and re-did the wires and got into our hearts.
    He was once of the nicest men you would ever meet…. and turned us into killers.
    The art of the HIT.
    BANG
    Nothing illegal.
    You will be punished if you have the ball end of story.
    Our practices were tougher then our games.
    1 play?
    We blew people out and liked it.
    :o)
    Sniff the glove of your master.

  33. deanvernonwormer says: Dec 22, 2010 4:14 AM

    We have all kinds of fans in this league. The biggest whiners? That’s a tie. And the tie goes to the Mami Dolphins fans and the Steelers fans. Crybabies? That award goes to the New England Patriots fans. Thugs, Oakland Raiders. Sissies, Dallas Cowboys. Mentally ill? The New York Giants fan.

    Dean Wormer

  34. ruggerlad says: Dec 22, 2010 4:50 AM

    An officiating error won them a game vs the Dolphins. The Steelers getting calls is not anything new. Hey I wonder if the head ref and head linesmad were both from Pittsburgh like the Dolphins game? What a joke!

  35. philaeagles31 says: Dec 22, 2010 4:58 AM

    reverseapachemaster – I’m sure you CONVENIENTLY “forget” that the SeaChickens got screwed x100 times worse than any Steeler game, ever, right?

    Don’t change the subject to Phi/Pit… you guys WIN. I admit.

    However, you did NOT “WIN” in Super Bowl XL, although the NFL, for some reason, felt like GIVING it to you.

    I’d feel and give so much more credit to the Steeler orgnization if they would just admit they got (almost) every call under the sun on that day and that’s the main reason they won. And that’s a fact. I have rewatched that game and although there were bogus calls on BOTH teams… ONE team royally, STILL, got screwed…

  36. bradyisgod says: Dec 22, 2010 6:09 AM

    If you look back at the footage. The ball was spotted correctly on the field just for some reason they did not bother to notice that the spot was a yard short. They moved the sticks and gave a first down.

  37. Jeff Dodson says: Dec 22, 2010 6:21 AM

    The W H O L E officiating SUCKS this year !!!!!!!!

  38. tommytd says: Dec 22, 2010 6:26 AM

    Well the refs made up for it with their lack of pass interference calls. The last drive of the game phil simms even said “emanuel sanders would have caught the game winning touchdown if he didnt slow down” and upon further review he was being held which was the reason he slowed down.
    =============================================
    Phil Simms talks too much and right now he’s in the middle of a love affair with Tom Brady. I wish they would bounce him! He’s supposed to be the “color” guy and he takes over the broadcasts.

  39. tommytd says: Dec 22, 2010 6:30 AM

    I guess we’re going to have to make poor officiating ” a part of the game” now too because that’s what happening. Why does a multi-billion dollar operation use part time officials? Makes no sense to me. They need to clean up their act because the game is suffering from it. I can hardly wait for the playoffs because poor calls are going to cost somebody a shot!

  40. njhitman says: Dec 22, 2010 6:36 AM

    What about all the BAD CALLS and non calls that gave the Jets the game .

  41. tv426 says: Dec 22, 2010 6:54 AM

    The Squealers bitch and moan about the NFL being “against them” (they think they have all the big, strong tough guys and the NFL can’t handle it, yet the truth is they have a bunch of dirty players) yet they get 9 yd first downs and a WIN in Miami that wasn’t – due to home town refs making calls for them.

    Come on Squealers, squeal like a pig!

  42. ncoolong says: Dec 22, 2010 7:01 AM

    Not a huge deal, but I did wonder what the hell they were doing.

    Before everyone gets up in arms about this, the mistake was made because the Steelers were running a no-huddle, and the officials were trying to keep up. If anything, the time it took the officials to make that call, thus slowing the Steelers offense down, hurt more than the extra yard helped. The next pass was incomplete and the Steelers offense looked out of rhythm. The Jets had a chance to catch their breath and re-group.

    The bigger point, though, it was a mistake that shouldn’t have been made. The Jets won the game, let’s hope for a rematch in the playoffs.

  43. tiffpats4eva says: Dec 22, 2010 7:33 AM

    This was the only error from last week? Really?

  44. realitypolice says: Dec 22, 2010 7:54 AM

    zone44blitz says:
    Dec 21, 2010 10:57 PM
    Who cares? Bad spots happen all the time. Why is this a headline on ESPN and all the other major sport sites?
    ========================

    Maybe it’s because the Steelers and their fans bitch about the officiating more than all of the teams in the NFL combined and multiplied by 5.

  45. igottz5onit says: Dec 22, 2010 8:02 AM

    I can’t believe people still cry about Super Bowl XL. Yeah the Steelers did get the benefit of a generous spot resulting in the touchdown when Ben sneaked it in on third and one. No one seems to remember when Jeramy Stevens caught a pass from Hasslebeck, took two steps, got popped, and fumbled. The refs wondrously called it an incomplete pass. Now I am not saying those were the only two bad calls in that game, because it was poorly officiated. However, the Steelers won because they were the better team they won by 11 not 3 or 7. The only people who thought that game was rigged were Seahawk fans, morons, and anyone jealous of the Steelers winning their 5th. Which category do you fit into Philaeagles31?
    The ultimate answer to these problems is that the NFL needs to man up and invest in full time officiating crews, the sport has surpassed that level of money and importance.

  46. laffers says: Dec 22, 2010 8:14 AM

    In a “round-about” way he’s criticizing the officials by pointing out their incompetence; can’t get fined for reveling incompetence when it favors you!

  47. tiffpats4eva says: Dec 22, 2010 8:18 AM

    intelligentfan,

    I am a Pats fan too and I could not agree more.

  48. Kaz says: Dec 22, 2010 9:01 AM

    “Officiating Error” is that what you call it now? Nothing new for the Steelers. Looks like they are back good with the zebras….

  49. ravenfan820 says: Dec 22, 2010 9:08 AM

    why is this a surprise to anyone. Their last two super bowls were helped along by the refs…..

  50. FoozieGrooler says: Dec 22, 2010 9:09 AM

    Looks like Dan Rooney’s return from Ireland paid off.
    No doubt he had a sit down with that idiot Goodell and told him to “back off” or find a new job was received and understood.

  51. connie73 says: Dec 22, 2010 9:32 AM

    To jackhalloo

    I will tell you what I think. The NFL does not want the Steelers to win and go to the super bowl. Lets picture this. Media day would go like this.
    Ben when was the last time you tryed to get a girl to go in a bathroom???
    When was the last time you pulled your junk out of your pants?????
    The media will ask these questions. They come from around the world not just Pgh. and ESPN. I am from Pgh but not a Ben fan
    He is low life

  52. alnee says: Dec 22, 2010 9:39 AM

    It does not matter on which team the bad or failed calls apply to. Every team has had them throughout the season. Bad calls or failed calls are just that… It does, however, seem that some teams are singled out more than others. God forbid someone should touch pretty boy Brady or the commercial comedian Manning, “T” shirt Breezy or the dancing Ochochinco or the whinning Owens and flags would fly all over the field like it was independence day. The Steelers QB gets a broken nose and their tight end Miller a concussion and not one flag hit the field. Harrison gets flagged and fined for a “legal” hit on Breezy… and not one stripped shirt noticed as the Jets defender held the Steelers receivers shirt, a blattant penalty that everyone on TV, in the stadium and even the announcers seen and made comment about? Come on…. I don’t care what team it is that this kind of failed officiating is happening to, it needs to be addressed. If those zebras can’t do thier job right FINE THEM OR FIRE THEM until they do!….

  53. holeinone09 says: Dec 22, 2010 10:05 AM

    As a Steeler fan, it was pretty obvious to me that the Steelers got the benefit of that spot. Without it and they way they were running the ball, I am certain they would have made the first down anyway.

    It was also obvious that the refs missed at least 2 pass interference calls that should have benefited the Steelers at the end of the game. Those were clearly more important to the outcome than the extra yard they gave the Steelers.

    But its not the Steelers or Jets fault for those blown calls. The point is, the officiating this year is horrible and getting worse. GODell needs to fix that, and quit spending so much time fining players. The refs are too important. Why aren’t they full-time employees? They determine outcomes of the games.

    I also agree with some other posters. I would love to see the Steelers and the Pats play for the AFC Championship!

    GO STEELERS!!

  54. bjb2865 says: Dec 22, 2010 10:57 AM

    Who cares about one yard. They would have gotten a first down eventually anyway. And why is this even a story? The Jets won the game. sheesh

  55. alnee says: Dec 22, 2010 12:56 PM

    Very true, the Jets and zebras won the game

  56. reverseapachemaster says: Dec 22, 2010 1:10 PM

    @philaeagles31
    I assume you’re a Philly fan so it is also safe to assume that you’re drunk.
    Secondly, “the league” as so many refer to it, is comprised of 32 owners, the commissioner, the NFLPA, and various other executive officers, etc. I doubt that they all get together and say “Hey, ya know who we should let win it this year? The Steelers!! (for that matter any other team)” The Seahawks owner is at all those secret meetings too, ya know. The Steelers won SB XL get over it. Anyone who feels differently just can’t get the taste of sour grapes out of their mouth.

  57. reverseapachemaster says: Dec 22, 2010 1:32 PM

    @sternfan69
    That’s not actually irony, but people misuse that word all the time.
    Mendenhall wasn’t credited with 10 yards on that play. The ball was spotted at about 8 and a half yards from the original LOS and inexplicably they called what should have been a 2nd and 1 or 2nd and 2, a 1st down (even though I am a Steelers fan, I was perturbed by this too.) So he was credited with a 9 yard run, but they were given a 1st down. His final rushing total was not affected by that error. If they had spotted the ball past the actual 1st down marker that would have affected his total. Also the Jets defense is TOTALLY overrated. Their “great” corner tandem are nothing but a bunch of punks that can’t cover without holding.

  58. paulieorkid says: Dec 22, 2010 2:13 PM

    @philaeagles31:

    As likely as it is that you’re liquored up, it’s equally likely that it’s a product of anger and resentment. Nice tandem. Boozed up and bitter.

    As for Super Bowl XL, there were 3 calls the Seahawks whine about. Each of these calls was broken down using frame-by-frame footage.

    Ben got in – all it takes is the forward edge pin-pricking the imaginaary vertical plane of the end zone. It’s on tape – the eye in the sky don’t lie.

    The hold was outside the body, so legit. T

    And the WR push-off was textbook. Try to understand WHY there was the necessary separation.

    All were PROVED legit. Apparently, John Madden thinks for you just like he does for his lapdog Al Michaels.

  59. feedtheshroom says: Dec 22, 2010 3:53 PM

    connie73
    Is that all you could come up with is that he was accused of sexual assault (not rape) . All that proves is that you can’t come up with a good argument about him. That’s like me saying Tom Brady is a cheater, and Joe Flacco looks like Burt from sesame street. Or Ray Lewis is a murder and Micheal Vick kills dogs. Those situations have nothing to do with their performance except for Brady’s because he cheated to with 3 super bowls. Every time there is a post about the Steelers, there is for sure a comment from connie saying Ben rapes girls. He is a scum bag no doubt, but it doesn’t have any thing to do with is on the field activity.

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