Football Zebras
2016 Postseason2016 Conference ChampionshipsChampionship liveblog: Steelers at Patriots

Championship liveblog: Steelers at Patriots

2016 AFC Championship

Follow us here for rolling coverage of the calls and rules interpretations of the Conference Championship game from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

If you have any questions or comments, use the comments section of this post, or tweet us @footballzebras.

Today’s crew is headed by Terry McAulay.

      Yrs 2016 crew College Occupation
R 77 Terry McAulay 19   Louisiana State college officiating coordinator
U 49 Rich Hall 13 Boger Arizona custom cabinetry
HL 106 Wayne Mackie 10 Hussey Colgate director of operations, housing
LJ 9 Mark Perlman 16 Vinovich Salem teacher
FJ 3 Scott Edwards 18 Triplette Alabama environmental engineer
SJ 41 Boris Cheek 21 Morelli Morgan State director of operations and management
BJ 112 Tony Steratore 17 Boger California (Pa.) co-owner, supply company
  • Replay: Mike Wimmer
  • Alternates: John Parry (R), Mark Steinkerchner (LJ), Rich Martinez (BJ)


Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20179:55 pm

Patriots 33-17, final

  • Penalties, 5 — Steelers 3/19, Patriots 2/10
  • Replays, 2 — booth review reversed, Steelers challenge stands.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20179:51 pm

3:36 | 4th qtr. On the onside kick, there was a recovery in the field of play. By rule, there must be at least 1 second taken off the clock. Each crew has their preference, but they usually work out with the clock operator in advance that the one second should be taken off as an adjustment, rather than a start/stop of the clock. McAulay made the announcement to do that adjustment.

Phil Simms chimed in that there might be an illegal bat. In the field of play, illegal bats cannot be called if the ball goes towards a team’s goal line. (In the end zones, a deliberate bat in any direction is an illegal bat.)

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20179:48 pm
3:36 | 4th qtr. Steelers TD — Cobi Hamilton 30 yd. pass from Ben Roethlisberger (2-pt: Ben Roethlisberger to DeAngelo Williams pass). NE 33-17 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20179:47 pm
6:24 | 4th qtr. Patriots FG — Steven Gostkowski 26 yd. NE 36-9 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20179:26 pm

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20179:24 pm

13:41 | 4th qtr. On a third-and-goal pass to the end zone, Steelers receiver Cobi Hamilton steps on the end line before catching the pass. This is a foul for illegally touching the pass, as he is the first player to touch the pass.

The penalty was modified in the offseason to be a loss of down and zero yards, rather than yardage with a repeat of the down. Under the old rule, the Steelers would replay 3rd and goal after the 5-yard penalty; they would have to accept the penalty in any case, as the result of the play would be a touchdown. The revision to the rule makes it effectively an incomplete pass, just as if the receiver remains out of bounds.

If Hamilton remained out of bounds, there would be no foul, but it would be incomplete.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20179:12 pm
1:35 | 3rd qtr. Patriots TD — Julian Edelman 10 yd. pass from Tom Brady (Steven Gostowski kick). NE 33-9 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20178:52 pm
2:44 | 3rd qtr. Patriots TD — LeGarrette Blount 1 yd. run (Steven Gostowski kick). NE 27-9 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20178:50 pm
9:59 | 3rd qtr. Patriots FG — Steven Gostkowski 47 yd. NE 20-9 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20178:41 pm
11:43 | 3rd qtr. Steelers challenge — down by contact. Call stands: ball was fumbled, but no clear recovery seen on video. key

For a successful challenge of a fumble when one is not called on the field, the replay must show both the fumble and the recovery clearly. It does not matter who has the ball exiting the pile, because officials are pulling off players telling them to give up the fight for the ball. Even though the ball appears loose, there is no clear evidence to reverse.

CBS announcer Jim Nantz erroneously stated that Terry McAulay stated that the Steelers had a clear recovery. McAulay was announcing the premise of the challenge: if there is a fumble and a clear recovery; not that there was a clear recovery ruled.


Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 22, 20178:31 pm

12:42 | 3rd qtr. Cancel the post-game ceremonies. No foul-free game. Tony Steratore with the first foul–personal foul on Ryan Shazier for hitting a defenseless receiver. The receiver was going down when Shazier lowered his head. On replay this looks like an iffy call. What caused Steratore to throw the flag was that Shazier lead with his head and it just depends on how the officials are taught to call this play.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20178:20 pm

No flags so far, and Terry McAulay only has opened his mic twice: for the coin toss and for a replay review.

McAulay was on the field this year when the Raiders racked up an NFL record 23 penalties (not including 3 declined).
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20178:08 pm

Halfway there, so anything could happen, but when was the last time we had a penalty-free game?

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20178:06 pm

Patriots 17-9, halftime

  • Penalties, 0.
  • Replays, 1 — booth review of touchdown reversed.
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20178:00 pm
1:39 | 2nd qtr. Steelers FG — Chris Boswell 23 yd. NE 17-9 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20177:59 pm
2:00 | 2nd qtr. Booth review (score) — touchdown. Call reversed: knee down with ball short of the goal. key

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20177:41 pm
7:43 | 2nd qtr. Patriots TD — Chris Hogan 34 yd. pass from Tom Brady (Steven Gostowski kick). NE 17-6 key

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20177:32 pm
11:31 | 2nd qtr. Steelers TD — DeAngelo Williams 5 yd. run (kick wide left). NE 10-6 key
Mark Schultz Mark Schultz January 22, 20177:25 pm

Some old school whistles in today’s game: Terry McAulay, Rich Hall and Tony Steratore are a dwindling number of officials using the old fashioned whistle with a pea in it instead of a Fox 40 whistle.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20177:20 pm
2:47 | 1st qtr. Patriots TD — Chris Hogan 16 yd. pass from Tom Brady (Steven Gostkowski kick). NE 10-0 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20177:17 pm

4:55 | 1st qtr. QB Tom Brady calls an audible and the offense shifts. They are all set for a full second before the snap, with a legal formation before and after the shift, making this a legal shift.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20176:52 pm
13:08 | 1st qtr. Patriots FG — Steven Gostkowski 31 yd. NE 3-0 key
Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20176:49 pm

Terry McAulay is in his 19th season as an NFL official and 16th as referee. McAulay will be working his 17th postseason assignment, including 2 Wild Card Playoffs, 4 Divisional Playoffs, 8 Conference Championships, and Super Bowls XXXIX, XLIII, and XLVIII. His Super Bowl assignments were all as a referee.

The 11 assignments between conference and league title games is the most of any active referee, surpassing Ed Hochuli’s 10. McAulay also was the referee for the 1998 BCS Championship at Miami’s Orange Bowl in his final year as referee for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20176:46 pm

Ben Austro Ben Austro January 22, 20176:28 pm

42°, foggy/mist

2 thoughts on “Championship liveblog: Steelers at Patriots

  1. Great call by Bj Tony Steratore on catching the receiver going out of bounds and being first to touch on the field of play.

  2. 12:42 3rd qtr Defenseless Receiver on #50, Shazier: This is such a bad call it hurts. The NFL has got to get a handle on these calls. You can’t keep punishing the Def for incidental helmet to helmet or helmet first tackles. The defender is moving full speed and the ball carrier is moving full speed. Once the defender commits he can’t change direction. These calls are KILLING FOOTBALL!
    I don’t want to see players hurt on intentional illegal hits but PHYSICAL INTIMIDATION is part of the game. You take that away and you have flag football.
    Bottom line: Little fast guys will ALWAYS out run bigger stronger guys across the middle. If the bigger stronger guy can’t lay wood to the ball catcher then you get what you had in this game; 400 yds passing by Brady, 300 of it on crossing routes because the defense is scared to hit anyone.
    The middle of the field is no more ‘open’ now than it was in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s. However, we are seeing an EXPLOSION in these small slot receivers killing teams with these routes because they don’t get hit. You run that in front of Ray Lewis or Jack Lambert 20 times like the Pats did last night and you get slot receivers who come back to the huddle and say “I don’t wanna run that route any more!”
    You have to have balance. You have to have the ‘completion tax’ levied by the defense and paid in pain by the offense or the league is going to die!
    You wanna know why ratings and ticket sales etc are down this year. Because LONG TIME fans who understand the game at a high level, like me, HATE 60. 70 or 80 combined points. How freaking boring is that? Up and down the field, running ‘rub routes’ (AKA PICK PLAY BEFORE BELECHIK) to free up small fast guys running crossing routes. No one is running the ball anymore and the stats are just outta control.
    For the LOVE OF FOOTBALL, give the defense their best equalizer back. PHYSICAL INTIMIDATION!

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