The first touchdown scored by the Steelers on Monday night shouldn’t have been a touchdown at all.
Via USA Today, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said the league office has acknowledged that the on-field officials and the replay-review process missed offensive pass interference committed by Pittsburgh on the play that resulted in a touchdown pass from quarterback Mason Rudolph to running back James Conner.
Replays showed that an ineligible receiver was downfield — and that he engaged with a defender. The first part isn’t subject to replay review; the second part is. But neither the in-stadium replay official nor the league office engaged the replay function.
The evidence was clear and obvious. Right tackle Matt Feller released very early, and he blocked linebacker Preston Brown.
“If they are down the field before the ball is thrown, then there’s an ineligible receiver downfield,” Taylor said. “On a touchdown, you can’t challenge whether it was OPI down the field. So if they engage with a second-level defender, which they did . . . and they said that they missed it. That part is hard, because we can’t challenge that because it was a scoring play. I made that mistake in the preseason. So that part was frustrating.”
Frustrating indeed. This wasn’t some obscure maneuver away from the action. Feller blocked Brown not far away from the spot where Conner caught the ball. If called, the touchdown would have been taken off the board, and the Steelers would have had the ball on the Cincinnati 31, facing third and 12, and trailing 3-0.