NFL: Clock started prematurely on final play of Steelers-Packers game

Mike McCarthy says it doesn't take 10 seconds to run a slant play. (USATSI)
The biggest officiating gaffe in last Sunday's Steelers-Packers game may have been the decision to award Green Bay the football after Pittsburgh blocked a Mason Crosby field goal because Steelers defensive lineman Ziggy Hood was flagged for illegally batting the ball forward.

While the penalty on Hood was correct, the Steelers had recovered the ball prior to that -- safety Ryan Clark scooped it up before deciding to lateral it to a teammate.

But that wasn't the only officiating gaffe.

Trailing the Steelers by seven with the ball on the Pittsburgh one-yard line and 22 seconds to go, the Packers were called for a false start. Inside two minutes, that's a five-yard penalty and a 10-second run-off. Which meant that the Packers should have faced a 2nd-and-goal from the Pittsburgh six-yard line with roughly 10 seconds remaining.

But Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn didn't get the snap until there were three seconds left, and by the time he threw incomplete into the end zone the game was over.

On Monday, coach Mike McCarthy said that he thought officials prevented center Evan Dietrich-Smith from snapping the ball as soon as the clock started with 10 seconds remaining.

"I wish, what I said after the game, I wish the officiating mechanics were intact," McCarthy said, via ESPN. "I think it's clear to everybody, it doesn't take 10 seconds to throw a three-step drop."

On Friday, the Green Bay Press-Gazette's Wes Hodkiewicz tweeted that he received a statement from an NFL spokesperson on the final 10 seconds in question:

It could explain why referee Carl Cheffers moved toward the line of scrimmage and appeared to say something to Flynn, possibly letting him know the clock was running.

"Those are questions probably more for the officials department," McCarthy said. "The referee and the umpire need to be on the same page as far as the way the umpire stands over the ball, he backs out, the coordination of the referee starting the clock. Dietrich[-Smith] was informed don't snap the ball until the umpire pointed at him. The umpire pointed at him at 3 seconds.

"If you watch the game, obviously we were all up in arms about it after the game. But if you go back and watch the video, I think it's clear exactly what happened."

The Packers, who welcomed Aaron Rodgers back to the lineup this week, can still win the division with a win this Sunday over the Bears.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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