Questionable fumble call results in Steelers TD despite ball flying 10 yards forward from Jared Goff


It already wasn’t a great day for the NFL refs on Sunday due to an inexplicable non-review at the end of an Arizona Cardinals loss and an even more questionable roughing-the-passer call that favored the Green Bay Packers.

Things got even more questionable when a play that resulted in a ball flying 10 yards away from Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff was ruled a fumble, and resulted in a big touchdown for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That was what happened near the end of the first half of Rams-Steelers, with Javon Hargrave picking up a sack and Minkah Fitzpatrick running the fumble in for his second touchdown in as many weeks. The play was reviewed, with the officials ruling the call would stand.

Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39) heads for the end zone for a touchdown after intercepting a pass from Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (not shown) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
The Steelers ended the first half strong against the Rams. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Fitzpatrick showed some strong awareness on the play, though it does present a rather pesky physics problem of how a ball can fly that far forward without the quarterback, y’know, throwing it.

The best explanation beyond the obvious (the refs pooching yet another call) is that the helmet of Hargrave collided with Goff’s elbow and formed a sort of catapult. Which might be possible if you view the play from a certain angle.

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Of course, it’s still a supremely questionable call, and one in which the Steelers certainly benefited from the burden of proof being on the side of a fumble rather than an incomplete pass thanks to the officials allowing the play to continue as a fumble.

Even if the fumble was questionable, it still didn’t change the fact that it was a miserable first half of offense for the Rams. The team’s only points came on a defensive fumble recovery touchdown, and Goff and Co. crossed midfield only twice on drives that resulted in a punt and missed field goal. They ended up losing 17-12 to the Steelers.

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