Some games just have a certain feel to it from start to finish, where you just know that it’s going to be a good day. The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a few of those in recent years. You know the ones where by late in the fourth quarter the backup quarterback and half of the offensive line is sitting on the bench, resting.
That’s how last night’s game felt for much of the first half, which started out with the Steelers driving down the field on offense on their first two drives and coming away with touchdowns. It was going to be a good one. Even with the missed extra point.
Then the missed false start happened that gave the Los Angeles Chargers an easy score, and even though the Steelers would ultimately build a 23-7 lead with a 16-point margin into the second half, just the presence of that blemish was a splash of cold water, a reminder that something could still go very wrong.
But there’s not much you could say. There’s not much anybody could say. It couldn’t be reversed. It could only be acknowledged. And Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin told the broadcast during halftime that the officials told him they got it wrong.
That doesn’t change anything. And they could have made a stop on the play regardless. Does that stop it from sucking? No, and that’s why several players and coaches after the game made reference to it by responding in some variation of ‘I’m only here so I don’t get fined”.
Tomlin, for example, who was already fined earlier in the season for making a post-game comment that was critical of an obviously wrong officiating call, said after last night’s game, “I am going to keep my mouth shut. I am going to do that because I send enough money to New York”, which was a reference to the fine.
Offensive lineman Ramon Foster was asked after the game if he felt, in his 10th season in the league, that he has a good understanding on what a false start is. “Yeah, absolutely”, he said, but previously when asked about a rash of no-calls said, “that’s your call, I don’t want to get fined for that. I’ll just leave it at that. I don’t want to get fined for referee calls”.
The Chargers were the beneficiary of a no-call on a false start earlier this season against the Cleveland Browns. The NFL fired the official who missed the call in-season after that, which is the first time they had made such a move in the Super Bowl era. I’m sure you can count on lightning failing to strike twice, however, and even if it did, again, it wouldn’t change anything. So, I’m just here so I don’t get fined.