New England Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai immediately put his hands on top of his helmet, well aware that he had just made a crucial mistake.

But the ensuing punishment Tavai expected for jumping offsides as the Pittsburgh Steelers lined up to punt on fourth-and-3 near midfield with 5:06 left in the fourth quarter never came.

Tavai and the Patriots got bailed out with the officials surprisingly flagging Steelers long snapper Christian Kuntz for a false start. Kuntz certainly was shocked to have the controversial call land on his shoulders.

“I thought it was a first down for us,” Kuntz told reporters following New England’s 21-18 win at Acrisure Stadium on Thursday night, per Chris Adamski of “That’s when I looked up (when) he jumped offsides, I looked up and thought it was a first down for us.”

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Kuntz did move his head up as Tavai made his way past the line of scrimmage, but the third-year long snapper thought he was well within the rules.

“No abrupt movement is the rule,” Kuntz said. “So, they must have thought I moved my head abruptly. I saw the big board and I don’t think I moved my head until he jumped offsides.”

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The Steelers all thought initially the call went their way. They celebrated emphatically as Pittsburgh thought it would get a fresh set of downs as it looked to wipe away a 21-18 deficit late in the contest.

And seeing Tavai’s reaction only convinced the Steelers more that they would have a chance for at least a game-tying score.

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“One hundred percent,” Kuntz said in regards to Tavai’s mannerisms signaling he had committed an infraction.

Pittsburgh still got two more offensive possessions after the penalty. The Steelers quickly forced a three-and-out on New England’s ensuing drive and got the ball back at their own 27-yard line with just under three minutes remaining. The Steelers moved to midfield, but couldn’t pick up a fourth-and-2, all but sealing a Patriots win.

Like Kuntz, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t thrilled with the way the referees saw things on the play.

“I was given an explanation. I don’t know I agree with it,” Tomlin said, per team-provided video.

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Featured image via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images