The Steelers were upset with a false start call against them on a would-be punt against the Patriots. On the broadcast, they speculated the call went against Pittsburgh because of long snapper Christian Kuntz’s head movement. Kuntz said after the game he felt that movement was not abrupt.
“When he jumped offsides, that’s when I looked up and thought it was a first down for us,” Kuntz said. “No abrupt movement is the rule. So they must have thought I moved my head abruptly. I don’t think I was abrupt with my head movement. I didn’t move my head until they jumped offsides, quite frankly.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did not agree with the call either, but he did get an explanation from the officials in the venue about their call.
“I was given an explanation,” Tomlin said. “I don’t know that I agree with it, but I was given an explanation.”
Now, Patriots reporter Mike Reiss has an explanation from the other side of things. Patriots special teams coordinator Cam Achord said the refs told him it had nothing to do with the sudden movement of Kuntz’s head, but instead, the slight movement of his hand and the ball.
“Clay Martin’s officiating crew instead calling a false start on snapper Christian Kuntz,” Reiss wrote. “Patriots special teams coordinator Cam Achord said the crew relayed to the New England sideline that the call was made as a result of Kuntz “sliding the ball and moving his hand at the same time” — something the league has been “harping on.”
false start? 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/KpJ4Ja2aFi
— Benstonium (@Benstonium) December 8, 2023
If you watch very closely, and I mean very closely, you will see the slight wobble of the ball from Kuntz as his left-hand shifts ever so slightly. It’s hard to see, and that’s a really hard call to make when the ball barely moves, but it was enough to get it called.
In the end, Pittsburgh fell short after getting another opportunity to drive the ball. There is no guarantee that Pittsburgh will score points even with the offsides call. But it was entirely possible, and the missed calls were game-changing. Either way, the Steelers have many things to consider in their organizational sphere before complaining about the call. They should not have even been in that position for that call to have gone against them.