A key call that could have altered the outcome of Sunday’s Steelers-Packers game could result in another tweak to the official rules.
We’ve previously explained what happened after the blocked field goal by the Steelers in the third quarter of Sunday’s game. The play turned on whether the Steelers secured possession of the ball before Pittsburgh defensive lineman Ziggy Hood batted the ball out of bounds. The question of whether safety Ryan Clark secured possession of the ball before he tried to lateral it to teammate William Gay wasn’t reviewable.
On Tuesday, NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino provided the same explanation — and he said that the league has discussed making the question of whether Clark secured possession a reviewable play.
“The ruling on the field of whether Clark possessed it or not is not a reviewable aspect,” Blandino said on NFL Network’s Total Access. “And that’s something that the Competition Committee has looked at in the past, and I’m sure they’ll continue to look at.”
Blandino conceded that, if the play currently were reviewable, the ruling on the field that Clark didn’t secure possession likely would have been overturned, giving Pittsburgh the ball subject to the Hood penalty.
“Had this been reviewable, I think we could have overturned this,” Blandino said. “But again, not reviewable. The officials are looking at that action at full speed, live. Very difficult to tell at full speed. I think if we had the ability to go to review, we would have been able to overturn it.”
Under current rules, the NFL has crafted a specific list of plays and actions that are reviewable. On the list of nine plays that aren’t reviewable (per Rule 15-9-5(5)) is the “[r]ecovery of a loose ball that does not involve a boundary line or the end zone.” It would be an easy fix to move that category from the non-reviewable bucket to the reviewable one.
There’s no reason not to do it. If the goal is to get it right and if the available video evidence is indisputable, why not make the change?
Of course, that logic could be applied to anything and everything that happens on the field, especially as it relates to the challenges made available to every coach in every game.