When the kick left Ryan Succup's foot for a game winning field goal attempt the ball immediately began very slightly left. Instead of splitting the uprights and securing the win for the visiting Chiefs, and a playoff spot for the Steelers, the ball drifted wide left and just barely missed. Time expired and the game headed into overtime.
Steelers' players and fans were crushed. Momentum immediately switched to the Chargers. They won the coin toss. Converted a fake punt on fourth and short and eventual worked their way down to field goal range and booted the game winner.
Many watching the game are rightly upset about the referee call on the fourth down fake punt in overtime. Although the ball carrier was initially stopped short of the first down line, with the aid of members on his team pushing at his back and him churning his legs he worked his way past the first down marker. That's when disaster struck and the Chiefs defense stripped the Chargers' Eric Weddle of the ball and returned it for what would have been a game winning touchdown. Unfortunately, the refs disagreed, giving enough forward progress to Weddle to give the Chargers a first down, but not enough to give the Chiefs their fumble return for a touchdown.
Many say the refs simply got the call wrong and it cost the Chiefs the game and the Steelers their place in the post-season. But, and even more devastating, was a missed call that occurred at the end of regulation on the Chiefs failed field goal attempt.
As kicker Ryan Succop lined up on the right hash mark to try a 41-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, seven Chargers positioned themselves on the line of scrimmage to the left of the long snapper. But a new provision added this year by the NFL to Rule 9, Section 1, Article 3 states that “[n]o more than six Team B players may be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper at the snap” when Team A lines up in a conventional field goal formation.
Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL believes a flag should have been thrown. The league office could acknowledge the error publicly as soon as Monday.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, public acknowledgement of the horrible calls by the NFL officials will do little to comfort them while they sit at home next weekend and watch the Chargers play in a game that was rightfully theirs to play.