Pittsburgh Steelers fans are still looking for some clarity after a controversial call during the third quarter of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots.
On the Patriots’ first drive of the second half, Tom Brady attempted a quarterback sneak on third-and-1. Brady gained two yards, but he seemingly fumbled at the end of the play, and the ball was recovered by Steelers’ defender Javon Hargrave.
Head referee Terry McAuley ruled Brady fumbled the ball and recovered his own fumble. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin challenged the ruling, and the the call was upheld. The NFL’s current VP of officiating, Dean Blandino, and the former VP of officiating, Mike Pereira, both agreed with the ruling.
The Patriots were leading 17-9 at the time, and they went on to kick a field goal on that drive to extend the lead to 20-9. The Pats proceeded to add two more touchdowns before the Steelers scored again.
Had the Steelers forced a turnover there, perhaps the outcome of the game would be different—or at least closer. But the rules were interpreted correctly, and the Patriots were beneficiaries of another borderline call. Remember the Tuck Rule?
The Patriots advanced to the seventh Super Bowl of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Era with a 36-17 win, and they will take on the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.