Refs somehow miss blatant Chargers false start, a huge mistake in Steelers loss

The last time there was a missed call on a false start that was this bad, an NFL official lost his job in season for the first time in the Super Bowl era.

In the first quarter on Sunday night, with the Pittsburgh Steelers out to a 13-0 lead, Chargers right tackle Sam Tevi moved before the snap. It was obvious. But no whistle blew, and Philip Rivers threw deep to Travis Benjamin for a 46-yard score.

Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt on the field and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on the sideline were beside themselves. How could the officials have missed such an easy call? Suddenly, thanks to the missed call, it was a 13-7 game. That missed call was huge by the end, when the Chargers stormed back for a 33-30 win on the final play of the game.

NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya said she asked Tomlin about the missed false start at halftime, and Tomlin said officials admitted they missed the call.

“He told me, the officials told him, ‘We screwed up,’” Tafoya said on the broadcast. “There is just no recourse.”

When Tomlin was asked after the game, he didn’t elaborate.

“It was no explanation other than they missed it,” Tomlin said. “It’s unfortunate.”

Tomlin was asked another officiating question.

“I’m not getting into all the officiating elements of what transpired and how it was communicated. I’m just not. It’s fruitless,” Tomlin said. “It doesn’t change the outcome of the game.”

The false start wasn’t the only call Steelers fans will complain about.

See photos from the game: 

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Chargers top Steelers after a series of penalties, missed calls
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Chargers top Steelers after a series of penalties, missed calls
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: James Conner #30 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes the ball against Desmond King #20 of the Los Angeles Chargers in the second half during the game at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Mike Badgley #4 of the Los Angeles Chargers kicks the game winning field goal with no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Justin Jackson #32 of the Los Angeles Chargers rushes the ball against T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half during the game at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts a pass in the first half during the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Michael Davis (43) breaks up the play to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) during a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) drops back before throwing the ball during a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) hands the ball to running back Austin Ekeler (30)during a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Los Angeles Chargers free safety Derwin James (33) intercepts the ball during a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) lays on the field after being injured during a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson (32) runs for a touchdown during a NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA -DECEMBER 02: Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Terrell Edmunds (34) during the NFL football game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 02, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA -DECEMBER 02: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) catches a pass during the NFL football game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 02, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Justin Jackson #32 of the Los Angeles Chargers signals a first down in the second half during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks with brother Derek Watt #34 of the Los Angeles Chargers following the game at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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Officials missed false start call on Chargers

In the NBC broadcast booth, Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels agreed that Tevi rocked back well before the snap.

“One thousand percent,” Michaels said.

When Michaels asked NBC officiating analyst Terry McAulay if he could remember a missed false start call that was that bad, McAulay mentioned the one earlier this season that cost down judge Hugo Cruz his job. The Chargers benefited then, too, when a false start on Chargers tackle Russell Okung was missed. The Chargers also scored on that play. Cruz was let go for more than the one play, as the league said he wasn’t “maintaining a very high level of performance over a sustained period,” but the egregious missed call certainly was a factor. He was the first official in the Super Bowl era to lose his job during a season. 

After McAulay was done talking about that missed call earlier this season, Michaels chimed back in.

“Might have to check the classifieds tomorrow,” Michaels said.

Officials might have missed another key call

The Chargers tied the game in the fourth quarter on a 73-yard punt return score by Desmond King. But on the play, it seemed the Chargers had a block in the back that wasn’t called on a Steelers defender who had a clear path to King right as he was starting his return.

There was more to the Steelers’ loss than just the missed calls. They could have won had the offense moved the ball better in the second half or the defense could have gotten a stop. But the missed calls on Chargers touchdowns helped turn the game around as well.

Tomlin also referenced some holding penalties on the offense that stopped drives, but stopped short of saying any more.

“I’m going to keep my mouth shut. I’m going to do that. Because I’ve sent enough money to New York,” Tomlin said. 

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Frank Schwabis a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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