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The Steelers nearly lost on 'Monday Night Football' because of another NFL officiating error

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An egregious clock error likely did not affect the Steelers' win over the Chargers ... but it very easily could have.

The thrilling ending of Monday night's game between the San Diego Chargers and the Pittsburgh Steelers may not have needed to be so thrilling. The Steelers drove 80 yards to score a touchdown at the buzzer on a gutsy call to secure a 24-20 win. They would have had a little more time, however, if the clock operator hadn't made a big mistake or the referees had noticed.

The NFL acknowledged the error Tuesday afternoon.

After the Chargers kicked a late field goal to go up 20-17, they booted the ensuing kickoff into the end zone for a touchback with 2:56 remaining. No time should have run off the clock as a result, but when the Steelers took the first snap of their drive there was 2:38 left on the game clock. The NFL even noted the error in their official play-by-play.

clock

Any one of the seven on-field referees could have corrected the clock, though it fairness it appears that the clock operator may have noticed his mistake and stopped the clock just before a full 20 seconds had ticked off, making it an easy error for the refs to miss.

Thankfully, the clock error likely didn't affect the game. The Steelers still had enough time to complete their drive. The Chargers might have had some time to attempt a miracle kickoff return or Hail Mary, but those plays are highly unlikely to succeed.

So, no, fortunately, Monday's game will not go down in infamy, unlike last week's game in Seattle when the Seahawks beat the Lions after K.J. Wright illegally batted the football through the back of the end zone on a game-clinching fumble.

SB Nation presents: How the refs screwed the Lions last Monday