Odd penalty negates Steelers' blocked field goal against Packers

An illegal batting penalty gave the Packers another opportunity to take the lead after a blocked kick in the third quarter.

Things are getting whacky in Green Bay, where a bizarre penalty call gave the Packers new life after a blocked field goal looked as though it would preserve the Pittsburgh Steelers' lead.

With the Steelers ahead 17-14 midway through the third quarter, Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell fumbled on his own two-yard line, giving the Packers a first-and-goal. The Packers failed to take advantage, going three-and-out and having the ensuing field goal attempt blocked.

Amidst the celebrating Steelers emerged a penalty flag, and referees announced an illegal touching penalty that gave the Packers the ball back. After the block, Steelers safety Ryan Clark recovered the ball and attempted to lateral it to a teammate. The ball ended up loose on the turf and Steelers lineman Ziggy Hood then batted the ball out of bounds to keep it away from Green Bay.

The refs flagged Hood for an illegal bat, a ten-yard penalty that gave the Packers the ball back and half the distance to the goal from the spot of the foul. Eddie Lacy promptly rumbled in for a touchdown to give Green Bay the lead.


Here's the specific rule from the NFL rulebook:

Illegal Bat
Article 8 A player may not bat or punch:
(a) a loose ball (in field of play) toward opponent's goal line;
(b) a loose ball (that has touched the ground) in any direction, if it is in either end zone;
(c) a backward pass in flight may not be batted forward by an offensive player.
Exception: A forward pass in flight may be tipped, batted, or deflected in any direction by any eligible player at
any time.

It seems as though the Steelers should have been given the ball, however, since Clark appeared to have possession before pitching the ball. If the Steelers indeed had possession prior to the penalty, they would have kept the ball and had the penalty yardage marked off against them.

Mike Tomlin attempted to challenge the play, but was told by officials it was un-challengable.

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