Officials erred by giving Washington extra time for field goal before halftime

Washington Football Team v Pittsburgh Steelers
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Washington was given a big break in its comeback win over Pittsburgh by the officials wrongly stopping the clock to before Washington kicked a field goal at the end of the first half.

With just seconds remaining in the second quarter and Washington out of timeouts, quarterback Alex Smith was tackled inbounds, and Washington’s field goal team raced onto the field with the clock running. But as the field goal team ran onto the field, Smith ran off — while still carrying the ball.

That meant the officials didn’t have a ball to spot for the next play. Usually, the NFL uses separate “K-balls” for kicking plays, but when a team is hurrying its field goal team onto the field, the officials don’t use the K-ball and instead just use the ball that was used on the previous offensive play. At least, they do when the quarterback doesn’t take the ball with him to the sideline.

But because Smith took the ball with him to the sideline, the officials had to signal to the sideline crew to bring out a K-ball. And when that didn’t happen immediately, the officials stopped the clock with eight seconds left. That gave Washington extra time to get its field goal team on the field, and Washington kicked a field goal before halftime.

Stopping the clock to benefit Washington was a mistake. As noted by former NFL referee and NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay, when the offense’s actions cause a delay in getting the ball spotted, the officials are not supposed to stop the clock. In this case, it was clear that Smith’s action of taking the ball with him to the sideline caused the delay, and so the officials should have let the clock run while they got a K-ball to spot for the field goal attempt. The umpire, who signaled to the clock operator to stop the clock, should not have done that.

Smith said after the game, “It was not intentional.” But intentional or not, Smith’s move gave the Football Team an advantage it shouldn’t have had, and was a key contributor to Washington’s comeback win.

83 responses to “Officials erred by giving Washington extra time for field goal before halftime

  1. 2 instances of clock shenaigans gave Pittsburgh 2 wins against Baltimore (first when Heyward went down in game 1 and the clock kept running, then when they dog pilled the Ravens RB at the goal line and wouldnt let him up) so they get no pitty from me.

  2. If nothing else, taking the ball off the field should have been a delay of game penalty, which would bring a 10 second run off. Won’t say that play cost the Steelers the game, but it did seem to swing Mr. Mo in Washington’s direction.

  3. The football team’s comeback has little to do with this and more to do with the inability of the Steelers to run the ball. I am glad we lost this one. After all, we won’t beat teams in the playoff with Ben throwing 50 plus times because our run game stinks. With 4 games left, I wouldn’t care if we went into these next games running it 50 times, even if we lost. Running the ball is a mentality. Also, teams have figured out, they can rush and put their hands up to disrupt our pass game and then the drops. We deserved to lose today. Hopefully, it will help focus on this team.

  4. Officials also erring just before the half in last week’s game by not penalizing the Steelers defense for holding the Ravens running back on the ground for 18 seconds at the 1 yard line. C’est la vie.

  5. Coaches bend the rules all the time. Whether intentional or not Smith was grinning ear to ear coming off the field with the ball. Bad officiating happens every game giving an advantage or points to a team so what’s new? Take the 3points away and washington still wins.

  6. Well, Pittsburgh didn’t lose by three. Either way, every game has bad calls that go against the better team usually and if you can’t overcome one like that, well then the other team deserves the win. Great teams don’t let a first-half mistake cost them the game. Now if this happened on a final drive and the FG was for the win that’d be another story.

  7. Great. Give stoolers fans another reason to whine. It was overal a well reffed game. They let them play. There was a defensive holding call that extended a Pitt drive that was really bogus. So call it even.

  8. The excuses have all ready started on why the Steelers lost to Football Team. Suck it up Steeler fans. You had a lot of miss opportunities and Football team took advantage of theirs. Let’s try basic pass catching skills. . So many dropped balls by Steeler receivers; for one.

  9. the inevitable feelings of persecution by their fans will be on full display today.

  10. The Steelers have received the benefit of calls like that for years, much like the Patriots. Great to see them have one against them for once. Undefeated no more.

  11. WTH does Baltimore have to do with this game ? Baltimore has more than its share of shenanigans with officials and schedules. Just enjoy the team you don’t like lost.

    Congrats to the WTFs. Steelers playing down to their opponent bit them big time….

  12. Your putrid distain and biased and that of lapdog Florio, is laughable. The Steelers flopped their way to a win last week and they are the darlings of the NFL. The WFT won the game. Give them some damn credit.

  13. If there’s no rule preventing a player from carrying one of hundreds of ready game balls off the field after a play, and none requiring officials to have a new game ball instantaneously ready to replace it, there’s nothing to penalize.

  14. At least Alex Smith is smart enough not to admit it! Great win for the football team!

  15. Meh……crying over spilled milk you lost …..suck it up . We lost because we didn’t make the plays not just that one play.

  16. After watching Antonio Brown Twerk in the End Zone on us in 2016 on their way to destroying us, they get no pitty from us either.

    The WFT

  17. Let the crying begin. Meanwhile, the 72 Dolphins are cracking open yet another bottle of chanpagne!

  18. I’m sure the Steelers will get a lot of sympathy for this. Kidding. That’s called karma.

  19. “It’s only cheating if you get caught” — every politician.

    Even though the officials erred, that wasn’t the reason the Steelers lost. Their wide receivers have suddenly developed greased-pig syndrome. They can’t catch the ball. I’ve never seen any team drop as many passes as the Steelers have dropped in the last two weeks!
    Throw in that the Steelers couldn’t run the ball and they couldn’t stop Allen, and that’s the reason they lost.

  20. No referee can be 100% correct all of the time. Bad calls and missed calls usually balance out over the course of the same game, or usually within one game or two, but certainly over the course of a season. I think Rodgers may have said that when the Lions were whining a few years ago. He was right then and it’s right now. Get over it.

  21. I agree with Leman Russ. I’ve seen enough shenanigans in Pittsburgh’s favor over the years that I don’t feel bad for them at all.

  22. As a Seattle fan, I love seeing Pittsburgh lose due to the officials. But man, there have been some really ugly officiating mistakes this year. How could they not know to leave the clock running in that instance? That’s not exactly rocket science. They get a ton of training, and more money for their part-time job than most of us get for our full-time jobs, and still can’t be bothered to know the basic rules? This is why people get frustrated by NFL officiating.

  23. This writer is so anti-Washington that he’s searching for excuses. Typical. If circumstances were reversed, he’d be writing “deal with it”. I’ll help you somewhat: deal with it.

  24. payback for last week when the steelers laid on the ground for a delay of game to stop Ravens field goal attempt

  25. Alex Smith taking his ball and NOT going home was a bold strategy, Cotton. It paid off for him

  26. So that’s at least two calls in 50 years that didn’t go their way? Bettis’ coin flip call on Thanksgiving, and now this.

    Steelers have been blessed over the years, one of the darlings of Rozelle/Tagliabue/Goodell.

  27. Steelers a week earlier got away with stealing a FG against ravens – Karma possibly.

    I do have a problem with refs calling game differently because of the time on the clock though – had this plaay gone down with 4 minutes left – there would have been no stoppage, if there would have been it may have taken place later than it did after the previous play ended.

    Ravens debacle – should have gotten more attention – want to see a bad ref error watch the sequence at the end of the half – steelers laid all over the place and would not get up to bleed clock down, ref should know they are likely to do this, cuz ravens had no time outs, ref watched steelers do it for 15 seconds, never called it – Ravens are guilty also having gone for the TD, but the play where they did that should have happen with far more left on the clock. Ravens o line was literally picking up steelers by jersey to get em off ground to start next play. Refs were clueless for 20 seconds

  28. When you add up all the good and bad calls in the history of the NFL, the Steelers come out ahead, and it’s not even close.

    I remember one time when a call was wrong in their favor, and the play was not reviewable because the video system malfunctioned, so it stood. That is just one example.

  29. The officiating is the worst in NFL history and unbelievably, it gets worse and worse every year with nothing done to correct it – together with the officiating, and the mind numbing stupidity of the endless stream of awful commercials that are run with every time out, football has become almost unwatchable for me.

  30. Must have missed the article about Pittsburgh laying on top of the running back for Baltimore for 10 seconds at the official’s feet in Baltimore’s loss to Pittsburgh

  31. Lifelong Steeler fan here, and I say that Smith taking the ball off the field is meaningless. IMO, it had no bearing on losing the game. Washington is not as bad of a team as their record indicates, and they have a very good defense. The Steelers showed up, once again, and played uninspired, lackadaisical football. Bit them this week. Some of the guys are more interested in getting on social media instead of doing their jobs. Add that to the garbage play calling, and you get a loss. You can’t just show up, and expect to win. No matter what two teams are playing, the margin of error in any NFL game is razor thin. Washington fought back and won the game….end of story.

  32. Great. Give stoolers fans another reason to whine. It was overal a well reffed game. They let them play. There was a defensive holding call that extended a Pitt drive that was really bogus. So call it even.

    Not sure what game you watched, but those refs were terrible….for both teams. Saying the three points didn’t alter the end results is just stupid. All points can effect game thinking so nice try, but really put the homer hat down and put your thinking cap on ….if you have one.

  33. The WFT kicking unit was on the field and ready to go. The refs wouldn’t get out of the formation to let them snap the ball.

  34. NFL officials blow several calls every week for every team. The NFL is the worst officiated sport on the planet…………………..and there’s really not a close 2nd. Writing about “missed calls” in an NFL game is nothing more than stating the obvious.

  35. Eh if they won by 3 points I would agree, but they won by 6 points. So it’s pretty much a moot point. Yea there was an error, but was it that consequential…nope.

  36. Certain teams are destined to go down as legendary, and etched into our minds for eternity.

    Definitely not this Steeler team.

  37. I think the call was the right one. If the standard is that refs use a “K” ball, then Smith taking the regular ball with him was not a mistake by him and team shouldn’t be penalized.

  38. So hold on a minute….smith was sacked with 25 seconds to go and the refs needed a special K ball to kick the FG. Its not like smith ran off with the one game ball and the ball managers dont have 50 other ones on the sidelines…no the refs screwed up no getting the correct ball from the sidelines… their error not smiths…

  39. There are so many bad calls every game — favoring BOTH sides — that it is irresponsible to blame a loss on a single call.

    Unless you are going to break down every call in the game and its possible ramifications, then you really shouldn’t be blaming losses on a single call.

  40. edgerules says:
    December 8, 2020 at 11:06 am
    Where are the “rules are rules” peeps? Oh, this doesn’t involve the Pats. Well said integrity only applies to new England!

  41. Yes it wasn’t the Steelers inability to run, or defend. It was clearly the officials fault.

    Their defense gave up 23 points to a team that has a QB with one leg and no running back. No alarms there?

  42. edgarapoe says:
    December 8, 2020 at 5:55 am
    Officials also erring just before the half in last week’s game by not penalizing the Steelers defense for holding the Ravens running back on the ground for 18 seconds at the 1 yard line. C’est la vie.
    ——————————–

    No way! A Steeler would never do something dirty like that!

  43. The Steelers did not play well enough to deserve to win that game. Horrible run/pass ratio, way too many dropped passes, defensive lapses.

    You want to be a champion? Don’t let inferior teams hang around long enough for a referee’s error to impact the result. Period.

  44. Steelers one of the last few teams that could ever complain about officiating.
    NEXT.

  45. I don not think refs are bad – they miss alot of calls though –
    it is a fast game, bodys flying block viewing lines for refs, they do a good job generally but even when you they do a tough job pretty darn well – they make mistakes often – it is a hard job.

    How often do find yourself thinking they got a call wrong then you see replay and realize how they got it right particularly calls whna runner is down and where the ball should be spotted –
    Here is where I go on an island – they need more replay – get the calls correct – even judgement calls – make it happen with less commercials and more on filed/i game advertising – why does the orange first down marker have a bullseye? Wouldn’t a bud light and be more logical? Endzone pylons with slo mo replays with a Ford logo?

    Advertisers get their commercials zipped over as is with DVR’d games, more in game ads – more replay less screwups on calls – fix the really bad errors/calls/missed calls

  46. Listen to all the Steelers’ fans whining about a field goal when they lost the game by six. Do they want a recount of the points? Maybe they can call Goodell and pressure him to change the score? Ridiculous.

  47. Going by their recent run , you better put this WFT away early or you are in for a really long day

  48. Some people think this was ‘sneaky’ by Alex Smith, or that WFT deserved a penalty. No, they didn’t do anything wrong. There’s nothing wrong with bringing the ball off the field when you’re on offense. The officials are the ones who made the mistake. They should have just let the clock keep running. And if Washington ran out of time before the kick, that would have been their own fault.

    And this talk about “crucial momentum swing” is silly. The Steelers only scored 3 points in the second half. And while the Washington D is good, they were helped out by constant pass drops by Pittsburgh.

  49. I know Pittsburg Steelers will be complaining about this one, but it never should have been that close. This is Washington, the former redskins team. Maybe it will be a wake up call for the Steelers.

  50. Vasteelerfan says:
    December 8, 2020 at 9:43 am
    Great. Give stoolers fans another reason to whine. It was overal a well reffed game. They let them play. There was a defensive holding call that extended a Pitt drive that was really bogus. So call it even.

    Not sure what game you watched, but those refs were terrible….for both teams. Saying the three points didn’t alter the end results is just stupid. All points can effect game thinking so nice try, but really put the homer hat down and put your thinking cap on ….if you have one.
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________

    Homer hat. Good one. LOL Hey – I’ve got no skin in this game, it was just nice to watch the refs let them play. It was very 1995. Lots of hand fighting on routes, a couple minor skirmishes, good physical football, and not many ticky-tack flags. I’d take a 24-20 game over 40-37 ten times out of ten. On a sack (I think by Watt) – his hand clearly hit the side of the QB’s helmet. I was so glad they let it go. It was not roughing the passer, it was a physical player making a play. As for your 3 points, sure, it can make a difference. But it didn’t in this game. The better team on the night won this game.

  51. Kolo Jezdec says:
    December 8, 2020 at 5:29 am
    If nothing else, taking the ball off the field should have been a delay of game penalty, which would bring a 10 second run off. Won’t say that play cost the Steelers the game, but it did seem to swing Mr. Mo in Washington’s direction.

    There was that and a play on the same drive that no one mentioned. It was the Mims play that got them into position to get the FG. There was 50 seconds on the clock. They snap the ball he catches the ball, runs, breaks a tackle, runs down the sideline, breaks another tackle, and eventually gets pushed OOB’s. The play took like 15-20 seconds. When he was done there was 40 seconds on the clock. That game clock didn’t start right away and gave them precious seconds to get off the FG.

  52. Not even the worse mistake by the officials that game. How do you not overturn the challenge for the WFT for a first down? If I ever have an incriminating offense against me on film, I hope a NFL official can review it !!

  53. hellooooooooooobrooklyn says:
    December 8, 2020 at 9:04 am
    Alex Smith taking his ball and NOT going home was a bold strategy, Cotton. It paid off for him

    ========================================================================================

    ALWAYS love a good Dodgeball reference

  54. Refs have been bad. They blew the whistle on KC for delay of game and in replay there was still 1 second showing on the clock when they snapped it. It wasn’t reviewable, and they still made the kick from 48 yards but it was pretty suspect.

  55. K-ball is absurd. What is the purpose, make kickers kick the same ball that is used the other 99% of the game. Is there another sport that does anything like this? Do professional golfers get to use a special putting ball?

  56. steelcurtainn says:
    December 8, 2020 at 10:22 am
    They shouldnt have been allowed to kick a fg. The refs messed up again.

    ~~~~

    Like they did in both Ravens games. In the first it might have made a difference. In the second maybe not, but still a full strength Steelers team with extra days of rest barely took out the Raven’s JV team and then laid an egg against Washington. Maybe if they didn’t spend so much time trying to teach Eric Ebron basic math the outcome could have been different.

  57. Nothing new. Anything to cheat the Steelers. The NFL and refs have been doing it all year.

  58. Absolutely Brilliant. Who thinks of that?? He may be Captain Checkdown, but he’s got a football IQ off the charts.

  59. Considering that in the last Washington victory over Steelers in that legendary run in ‘91 resulted in a ref leaving the game with broken ribs, I’d say we’re moving in the right direction

  60. Ok fine, take those points off the board. So the Steelers lost by three instead if six. Better now? We are on to week 12.

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