A lot of things had to take place during Week 17 in order for the Pittsburgh Steelers to make the postseason. Not only did they have to beat the Cleveland Browns, but the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, and San Diego Chargers all had to lose as well.
Pittsburgh did what they had to do by defeating the Browns. The Ravens and the Dolphins ended up losing, ending their playoff hopes. At that point, all the Steelers could do was wait to see if the Chargers would lose to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Everything seemed to be going according to plan. With 0:08 left in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs were in position to win the game with a 41-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Succop. On the attempt, Succop missed wide right, and San Diego eventually won in overtime.
However, the one thing the referees missed at the end of regulation was that the Chargers had seven men lined up on one side of the ball during the field goal attempt which should have been a penalty. The Chiefs should have been given an extra five yards and another opportunity at the game-winning field goal attempt.
Had the refs gotten this correct we could possibly be sitting here talking about how all the stars aligned perfectly for the Steelers to get into the postseason after an 0-4 start to the 2013 NFL season. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, and this is all the refs’ fault.
With this being said, Pittsburgh has every right to be angry at what happened (or should have happened) this past Sunday in San Diego. Despite the horrific start to the year, the Steelers never folded, kept fighting, and finished the season winning six of their last eight games. All of that now seems to be for naught because of a game they had no control over.
Some may say that Pittsburgh shouldn’t have put themselves in a position to rely on so many outcomes to decide their fate and that the refs from the Chiefs-Chargers game shouldn’t be blamed. To some extent, I agree. However, just like the Steelers have a job to do, the refs have a job to do as well.
It’s calls such as this on that can make or break an entire season for a franchise and could have ramifications for players, coaches, and general managers. The Steelers have experienced this firsthand and had their chance for a run at a championship stripped from them. And for that reason alone they have every right to be angry at the refs’ blunder.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.