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Divisional round liveblog: Steelers at Broncos


2015 AFC Divisional Playoff

Follow us here for rolling coverage of the calls and rules interpretations of the Steelers-Broncos Divisional Playoff game from Sports Authority Field at Mile High. 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 2015 crew College Occupation
R 77 Terry McAulay 18    Louisiana State college officiating coordinator
U 92 Bryan Neale 2 McAulay Indiana sales consultant
HL 106 Wayne Mackie 9 Hussey Colgate director of operations, housing
LJ 47 Tim Podraza 8 Cheffers Nebraska corporate real estate
FJ 15 Rick Patterson 20 Morelli Wofford banker
SJ 3 Scott Edwards 17 Torbert Alabama environmental engineer
BJ 83 Shawn Hochuli 2 Allen Claremont financial advisor


  • Replay official: Earnie Frantz
  • Alternates: Kent Payne (HL), Dyrol Prioleau (FJ), Joe Larrew (SJ)
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39 thoughts on “Divisional round liveblog: Steelers at Broncos

  1. How many flags are they not gonna call for pass interference???? Really?? Are they paid off?? Fire them.

  2. How did Aquib Talib not get called for face guarding / interference on the endzone throw by Ben Roethlisberger in 1st. Qtr vs Denver?

  3. As the rules are currently written, shouldn’t saving a punt from inside the end zone be an illegal bat?

    “any player bats or punches a loose ball (that has touched the ground) in any direction, if it is in either end zone”

    The first-touching rule specifies the spot of first-touching when a player jumps into the end zone, but I can’t find anything that says he is allowed to bat a ball from within the end zone… and act that would be an illegal bat.

  4. pt, the relevant rule (12-4-1) is:
    Article 1. Illegal Bat
    It is an illegal bat if:
    * any player bats or punches a loose ball in the field of play toward his opponent’s goal line
    * any player bats or punches a loose ball (that has touched the ground) in any direction, if it is in either end zone

  5. Sorry, I hit comment prematurely. Anyway, if the ball hasn’t touched the ground in the end zone, then it’s not an illegal bat (and of course if it has touched the ground, the play is dead).

  6. But the ball touched the ground, just not in the end zone. The rule needs to be reworded to specify that.

  7. WOW, what a lame holding call. Questionable to begin with and had no impact on the play. It’s 4th quarter time to give the game to Pittsburg!

  8. Awful job by Edwards and Hochuli JR on that touchback call on muffed punt. Pittsburgh player was contacted by Denver player at the 1 yard line. The play should have been spotted at the one.

  9. And the ref gave a very lucid explanation: “The ball was not possessed, so it was still a kick. By rule this is a touchback.”

  10. I have a friend saying the refs blew the game by not called by Manning down when he slid and then got back up and passed…. What’s the right call?

  11. V Meyer

    Manning was never touched. An the play is not reviewable.

    Big Ben was saved by the officials when they whistled his sack dead and a split second later he intentionally fumbled.

  12. 1. AWESOME camera angle form inside the PYLON shows that the Denver punt muffed by Pitt. was NOT in player control until the ball was over the goal line. You can see the ball “slide” from Pitt’s waist to thigh then controlled with the hands once on the GL.
    2. Some blatant offensive holds by Denver missed in the second half I think.

    Corrente should be working in February.

  13. I have to say that the officials in tonights game were very inconsistent. They call P.I. on Gay which to me was not, then in the Steelers very next possession there were at least 3 P.I. calls that were the same if not worse than Gay. Not to mention obvious offensive holding by Denver. I also believe that Peyton should have been declared down because he slid and looked like he gave himself up. The refs need some serious help. It has been a horrible season!

  14. @ftbllchick-

    You sound like a disgruntled Steelers fan. Somehow, you only saw the mistakes that impacted the Steelers. You forgot the PI called on Denver on a ball that was uncatchable. Forgot the break that the Steelers got on the muffed punt miscall. Like any game, there are plenty of calls that could go either way.

    I thought the officials did a good job yesterday, other than the muffed punt touchback. Bottom line, the Steelers player was touched before he got to the goal line. Calling that a touchback rewarded them for a bad play and was the wrong call. And, the ref who really made the call first was Hochuli JR who had no view of the ball. Amazing how everyone jumps to defend a bad call.

    As for the Peyton gave himself up argument… that is just a stupid argument. Only in a college game was he down.

  15. Actually no Im not a Steelers fan but you sure sound like a Broncos fan. The touch back call which has been gone over and over again and if you watch, the ball was not secure control was made in the endzone. I guess you weren’t able to see that. What about all P.I. calls that were blatant that they missed? And for the Peyton argument, even some of Peytons teammates thought the play was over, he slid and if a qb slides he can’t be touched. The point I’m making is the officiating has not been consistent all season. Saturdays game; Tom Brady should have been called for intentional grounding, the ball did not get back to the line of Scrimmage. But its Tom Brady.

  16. There was a clear DPI in the endzone not called on Denver. (I didn’t see the call on Gay.)

    I will still insist that Manning curled up in a ball on the ground is “giving himself up” (even if it dumb to do so as no defender was near him) but given his lack of athletic ability he wasn’t going to bend over and pick up the ball.

    Officials who normally have a quick whistle to protect the QB let that one go? Please.

    Overall not a bad game by the officials. Just the usually inconsistencies we see all season from crew to crew and individual to individual.

  17. It never occurred to me that Manning was “giving himself up.” It looked like he was expecting a hit/touch when he was on the ground, then when he was clear, he got up and threw the ball.

    Why would a quarterback give himself up in that situation? Just get up and throw the ball away if you want to kill the play.

  18. Because Manning isn’t athletic at all. I realize it’s a judgement call by the official. But curled up in a ball on the field…and being Manning it took a while to get up too…is giving up. Right or wrong based on who was near him.

    QB’s don’t always make the right decisions. 39 year old QB’s who have had multiple neck surgeries sometimes choose to lay their rather than stand up and get his awkwardly.

  19. @ftbllchick
    Don’t get your panties in a bunch. Broncos fan? No. I am a Jets fan… no need for condolences. I accept my lot.

    As for the game in question, there is no way somebody straight down the middle only finds fault on calls that benefitted the Broncos. There were plenty of calls that were questionable either way. Just like any game where the play moves fast and the play is hotly contested.

    In my eyes, the only glaring mistake was the muffed punt. Admittedly, I have never seen this happen where a player has questionable possession just outside the endzone, and said player was definitely contacted by opponent with knee down at the one. Certainly a gray area. But, wrong to give the team who muffed an advantage for their error.

    Also- Unless Hochuli JR had x-ray vision there is no way he saw the Steelers player bobbling that ball. Even if he was, that should be no reason for improving their field position. In fact, if momentum carried him in without possession – I believe the correct call would be a safety. There is no way to defend the call. Either the ball was at the one or the Steelers player was tackled in the end zone for a safety. Hochuli JR screwed up and Edwards went with his call, even though he had the better view. If you watch – Edwards let Hochuli JR take charge.

  20. @MV

    Totally agree on Peyton. He was just so slow to get up vs the young guns like Russell Wilson and Cam Newton. Brady would have been equally slow. Never, did I think he gave himself up.

  21. Except Manning admits he faked it,

    “I don’t really want to analyze this play too much,” he said. “I’d kind of like it to go away, if it could. I was stepping up. When you fake that way and kind of get your head around, I felt that guy closing, so I stepped up and kind of leaned forward. My momentum kind of just took me down, I guess. I didn’t think that he had touched me. I told Emmanuel just to kind of be alert in case I fall down, get back up to be uncovered.”

    He was giving himself up…period. He just didn’t get touched this time and the officials, who are so quick with whistles any other time someone is near a star QB, just started walking toward him to see what happened next.

    Its on the Steelers to get to him…its on the officials to know when a layer has given themselves up to avoid a hit.

  22. Seriously @fromthesidelines? There is no need for you to be a Pompous ass. I guess women need to not have opinions.

  23. @ftbllchick
    Yes, you get it now. With regards to football, there is not much they can add of value to a discussion.

  24. @From the sidelines: There is no way this could have been a safety. Either he had posession in the field of play and his momentum carried him into the endzone > ball placed where he recovered it (momentum rule). Or he gained posession in the endzone > touchback.

  25. From the sidelines: have you not seen the pylon camera angle I stated earlier? Ball is clearly moving BEFORE possession secured.

  26. @jerome and dmb

    Quite frankly, I have never ever seen such a scenario. In all the years I have watched football… I have never seen such a play where a player recovers a ball on field of play, is touched down but establishes full possession while in endzone.

    I have two questions.

    1- Why should a player be able to bobble a ball into the endzone, while down and being contacted by an opposing player, and improve his team’s position? Does the holy roller rule not apply? There is no way that the Steelers deserved those 19 yds.

    2- How in the world could Hochuli jr see the ball moving from his angle?

    If a QB was being chased and was tackled and touched down at the one and was bobbling ball, but recovered in the end zone… would that be a safety? Or would it be down at the one? I am sure it would not be a touchback. I know a punt return has a different set of rules, but the factor that all ignore is that the Steelers player was touched down while this all occurred. This might just be a Raiders situation – a la holy roller play – that mandates a rule change. But, I still think the correct call was down at the point where the Steelers player was touched down.

  27. @jerome and dmb

    Follow up—- sometimes a very good official uses common sense to rectify a bad situation when the rules are ambiguous.

    In a monday night game between Bill and Pats, LJ Gary Arthur, who should never have come back so quick from a serious injury, got gun shy on a play rolling to his sideline and blew his whistle while Tom Brady still possessed the ball and was in bounds. Brady completed a pass to an open receiver. The LJ made a horrendous mistake… the play resulted in a first down where the receiver caught the ball, but it may have been a TD if the whistle had not been blown.

    Steratore huddled with his crew and decided the pass was complete and the play was dead at the spot of catch. Now, the tape showed the ball was in Brady’s hand when Gary Arthur blew his whistle. But, how do you penalize the Pats for a total mess-up by an LJ? At the same time, the Bills could not be expected to tackle the WR after the whistle. Is there a spot in the rule book that discusses what to do when LJ blows his whistle early because he is scared of being run over? Not that I know of, but Steratore came up with a reasonable call.

  28. @fromthesidelines you seriously need to have your balls removed! There are many women myself included who can and do contribute to conversations regarding sports. I am so sorry that your brain is so small and contains so much hatred and sexism.

  29. @ftbllchick

    Sorry, to be the one to tell you the truth. Feel free to watch and enjoy. It’s your prerogative. But since women do not play football…

    Women add nothing to a conversation about football.

  30. Wow women don’t play football? Are you even living in this century? Let me guess you are 50+ and living in your parents basement. Men like you are exactly what is wrong with this world. I guarantee you that I could out throw, run and kick you. But enjoy your lonely negative life.

  31. @ftbllchick

    Sorry, but it is true. Women do not play football. Unless you want to call the LFL a football league.

    Oh, and by the way, football is not a punt, pass and kick contest. I will quote the legendary storyteller of American football John Facenda on the subject of what football really is:

    “Professional football in America is a special game, a unique game, played nowhere else on earth. It is a rare game, the men who play it make it so. Pro football is a mirror of early America. Reflecting toughness, courage, and self denial. The game is wide-opened not confined. X’s and O’s on a blackboard are translated into imagination on the field. The game is perpetual motion. A swirl of flying bodies and constant collisions. There’s glory in the legend of this hard muscle life. And there’s poetry in each season made of sweat and strife. Do you fear the force of the wind? The slash of the rain? Go face them and fight them, be savage again. A time for achievement, a time for purpose… a time for Glory!”

    Note, a few selected pearls of wisdom from the legend, Mr Facenda, that confirm football is played by men and it is not a punt, pass and kick contest:

    “the MEN who play it make it so” –
    “a swirl of flying bodies and constant collisions” –
    “go face them and fight them, be savage again” –

    All that being said… enjoy the games this weekend.

  32. @From the sidelines: The Holy Roller rule is for fumbles. This was not a fumble. When he would have had control in the field of play and would have been contacted down, you would not even need the momentum rule. He would have been down by contact in the field of play and the ball would have been put there. Denver could have challenged that.

    When a QB is down by contact at the 1, then the ball will be placed at the 1 obviously. When he fumbles and recovers his fumble in the endzone, it is a safety. But of course this is a completely different situation. When the QB fumbles, the impetus is provided by the offense. On a kick, the impetus is provided by the kicking team, unless there is possession and a subsequent fumble by the receiving team.

    Maybe you could add an additional rule: A first touch spot by the receiving team on muffed punts is installed just like there is if there is a first touch by the kicking team. The kicking team could then always come back to the spot of the muff. But that would just make it even more complicated for situations that almost never occur.

  33. @dmb

    Yes. Agree. An incredibly complicated and extremely rare situation unfolded. Probably will not happen again in ten years.

    And, to your point, unlike the holy roller, I don’t think the Steelers intentionally improved their position.

    Still don’t like the Steelers (or any team other than the Jets) benefitting from making a miscue.

  34. 1- there is a women’s national semi-pro football league that plays NFL rules and is full equipment
    2- @footballchick – you as most of men on this site don’t know the rules and clearly have never read a rule book. No need to be offended, just stating an obvious fact
    3- the kick and the PM fall were both correct if you took the time to read the rule book

  35. @Andy

    1- Never heard of it and nobody cares
    2- Does ftbllchick need your permission to have an opinion? No, she does not.
    3- D you read the NFL rule book in your free time? Sound like a fun guy!

  36. @From the sidelines
    Sounds like you’re a pompous ass. She doesn’t need anyone’s permission so keep trying to force your uninformed opinion down people’s throats. If you had a clue about what you were talking about maybe someone would listen!!!

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