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NFL Rules Expert: Steelers Got Break on Final Drive as Referees Cost Ravens Crucial Time

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BALTIMORE — Complaining about the officiating is pretty much part and parcel of being a sports fan, but Steelers faithful should think about thanking the folks in black and white stripes for the way their team’s Week 8 win over the Baltimore Ravens ended.

With the Ravens driving with under a minute to play, Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson completed a long pass to wide receiver Willie Snead, taking the ball all the way to the Pittsburgh 23-yard line.

Snead was tackled with 18 seconds left on the clock at M&T Bank Stadium, but with the Ravens out of timeouts, it continued to tick. Jackson ushered his players down field to try to spike the ball and the Steelers hurried to get onside, but one player remained behind.

Defensive lineman Cam Heyward stayed down on the field after rushing Jackson. It was the second time late in the game that Heyward needed medical attention and he eventually needed helped off the field. He suffered a minor quad injury on the play.

The problem for the Ravens is that 10 seconds ran off the clock between the time that Snead was tackled and the time that the game officials noticed that Heyward wasn’t getting up and blew the whistle.

NBC rules analyst and former NFL official Terry McAulay said the referees should have put eight to 10 seconds back on the clock, but instead the Ravens snapped the ball for the next play with just eight seconds left on the clock.

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The game ended with the Ravens running out of time at the Steelers’ 23-yard line on a second down. That 10 seconds could have given them two more shots at the end zone.

The missed time wasn’t the only controversial call made in the game by the officiating crew. Ravens linebacker Matthew Judos was ejected after making contact with an official during a scrum earlier in the game, always a touchy judgement call.

Heyward had been flagged for a late hit on Jackson in the first quarter while it looked like Jackson was still in bounds, extending a drive that ended in a Baltimore touchdown.

But while both of those plays were judgement calls, the clock management at the end of the game was clearly and error in the Steelers’ favor.

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