It was a rough Monday night for the officiating crew in the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-20 win over the San Diego Chargers as not only did they screw up the game clock on the final kickoff of the game, they also shorted the visiting team a potential touchdown return of a third quarter fumble.
During the Chargers opening possession of the second half, running back Melvin Gordon fumbled on a 3rd and 1 run and safety Shamarko Thomas corralled the loose football while on the ground. Thomas, however, was never touched down by Gordon while prone over the football and as he got up to run with it, line judge Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s first full time NFL female official, blew the play dead as she ran in from the far sideline.
Referee Peter Morelli then announced to the crowd that the ruling on the field was a Chargers fumble and that Thomas was marked down by contact after recovering the loose ball.
As you can see in the replay below, Gordon indeed looks like he never touched Shamarko Thomas down. The play, of course, couldn’t be challenged.
Earlier in the game, Sarah Thomas had a quick whistle on a run by Le’Veon Bell. To her credit, however, she was the one who ruled that Bell crossed the goal-line for the game-winning score on the game’s final play. That play, as expected, was reviewed and it was obvious that she made the right call.