Steelers flagged for controversial, costly false start late in brutal loss to Patriots: ‘Bad call’

Sad news: Dangerous attack on Steelers coach

A crucial penalty call late during the “Thursday Night Football” matchup between the Steelers and Patriots appeared to go the wrong way — and cost the Steelers in. a big way.

On a fourth-and-3 late in the final quarter, the officials penalized long snapper Christian Kuntz for a false start, pushing the Steelers back five yards.

Nevertheless, upon further review, the call looked questionable and likely should’ve gone against the Patriots’ return team.

An offside infraction on New England in that spot would have given Pittsburgh a fresh set of downs.

Instead, the Patriots got the ball back and later shut down the Steelers’ final attempt in the waning seconds to close out a 21-18 win, snapping their five-game losing streak.

The call infuriated the Steelers and had former referee and current rules expert Terry McAulay scratching his head during the Prime Video broadcast.

“So they’re saying [Kuntz] made a quick and abrupt movement prior to the snap. I don’t see this as quick and abrupt,” McAulay said. “Obviously, it’s subjective. This looks like the normal movement that we see from a long snapper. I think this should have been on the defense.”

Prime Video analyst Kirk Herbstreit agreed and questioned the logic of the call on the field.

“You see that almost every time on a snap and it’s never called. I think that’s a bad call,” Herbstreit said.

“It looked like the Steelers caught a huge break with [Patiots linebacker Jahlani Tavai] jumping off, but to all of our surprise it ends up going against the Steelers,” Herbstreit added.

The decision by the officials also seemed to confound Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

While he didn’t overtly criticize the call, he did allude some displeasure during his postgame press conference.

“I was given an explanation, I don’t know if I agree with it, but I was given an explanation,” he told reporters.

The win was the Patriots’ third of the season and came on the back of a strong effort from quarterback Bailey Zappe, who threw three touchdown passes and had 240 passing yards.

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