Packers say refs confused them in final seconds in loss to Steelers

Packers say officials told them to not snap ball before winding the clock (video)

The Steelers-Packers Week 16 game had its fill of controversial plays, but the last play didn’t seem controversial – until today. 

To set things up, the Packers were knocking on the door of a tying touchdown when the officials called a Packers’ lineman for a false start penaltyStopwatch, with 20 seconds left and the clock running.  The Packers didn’t have any timeouts left, and according to the rules, referee Carl Cheffers properly ordered 10 seconds run off the clock and clearly announced that the clock would start on his signal.  Then, according to the Packers, things got confusing.

The Packers say the officiating crew told them not to snap the ball before winding the clock.  According to the report,

I was watching the official spot the ball and all of a sudden I look up and I’m calling the snap count and the clock had already started,” quarterback Matt Flynn said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I guess we thought we’d be able to get those plays off.

“I don’t know what it was. We felt like we should have been able to get two plays off and I didn’t. I called the snap count as fast as I could …”

According to another report from Yahoo, the Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith said this sequence threw off the Packers play calling.

Well, let’s break it down by analyzing the video of the last play.  The Packers are on the line, ready to snap and ball, but the officials aren’t ready yet.  Referee Carl Cheffers stands at the line of scrimmage with quarterback Matt Flynn.  Cheffers then motions umpire Undrey Wash to stand over the ball.  Cheffers backpedals into his proper place and motions Wash away from the ball.  As Wash is backing up into his position (behind the defensive line) Cheffers then blows his whistle and signals the clock to start.  The clock is running while Flynn calls the cadence.  Cheffers appears to run up and yell something to Flynn.  Reports surmise that Cheffers was advising Flynn that the clock was running.  Flynn finishes calling the play and gets the snap with :03 on the clock and only gets one play off before time expires. 

I think the video shows that the officials did not interfere with the Packers from getting the snap off.  When I read the first media reports, I had visions of Wash standing with his foot on the ball and the clock running.  That did not happen.  Cheffers and Wash properly waited for both teams to get ready, and for the rest of the officials and chain gang to be set.  This is proper procedure.  The officials were well out of Dietrich-Smith’s and Flynn’s way before Cheffers blew his whistle and wound the clock.  Flynn was simply very deliberate in calling that last play.  There is no rule preventing Flynn from calling the play before Cheffers winds the clock — the Packers just couldn’t snap the ball.

While the Packers’ complaints are getting some play in the media, the team can’t hang it on Cheffers and Wash for only being able to run one play in 10 seconds.

4 Responses to Packers say refs confused them in final seconds in loss to Steelers

  1. Observer2 says:

    100% agree.

  2. Pete says:

    Look there was 0:23 left on the clock when the false start happened! The clock should have been stopped then and after 10 second run-off 13 seconds should have been left. The clock was not managed correctly! Packers probably should have been able to do 2 plays.

  3. Douglas says:

    “McCarthy on Monday said the officials told Dietrich-Smith he could not snap the ball until umpire Undrey Wash gave him the go-ahead by pointing at him. Replay showed that Wash did not point to Dietrich-Smith until six or seven seconds had ticked off the clock. ”

    According to the Packers Center, he was told he couldn’t snap the ball until the ref gave him the go ahead.

    They also had a play called when the ref went over to him to prevent him from snapping the ball, they then all stood up, and adjustments were made after they re-set.

    “Perhaps that’s why referee Carl Cheffers ran back toward the line of scrimmage and appeared to say something several seconds after he had blown his whistle and given the signal to start the clock. It’s possible Cheffers was reminding Wash to give Dietrich-Smith the indication.”

    To me it seems like the refs did a terrible job communicating with the players. And while you could make the argument that the players should know the rules, its hard to argue that they should just ignore what the refs tell them to do.

  4. bwburke94 says:

    Cheffers: “Please reset the play clock to 10 seconds.”

    Leaving aside the issue of the clock being reset to the wrong time, the PLAY clock should have been effectively turned off. The GAME clock should have been reset to 10 seconds.

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