Many Steelers fans likely came out of Thursday night’s game at Acrisure Stadium thinking the Patriots stole a win.
New England was the beneficiary of a controversial penalty call with a shade over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. As Pittsburgh lined up for a punt on a fourth-and-3 from its 38-yard line trailing 21-18, Patriots linebacker Jahlan Tavai appeared to jump offsides. But when head referee Clay Martin explained the flag thrown on the field, it was Steelers long snapper Christian Kuntz who was guilty of a false start.
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Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, New England special teams coordinator Cam Achord revealed the officiating crew informed the Patriots that Kuntz was penalized because he was “sliding the ball and moving his hand at the same time.” Such an infraction is one the NFL has been “harping on,” per Achord.
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The penalty was also broken down to Mike Tomlin, but the Steelers head coach acknowledged he wasn’t sure if he agreed with the explanation. Kuntz also was confused by the call and was under the impression that Tavai was the guilty party in the sequence.
It was a frustrating end to a winnable game for the Steelers, who certainly needed the victory if they wanted to stay in the hunt for an AFC wild card spot. Now, Pittsburgh is staring in the face of another season that ends without a postseason berth.
Featured image via Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports Images