In a critical moment of the recent NFL matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots, a controversial false start call against Steelers long snapper Christian Kuntz nullified an offside foul against New England.
This pivotal penalty occurred during the fourth quarter while the Steelers were trailing by three points, potentially derailing a crucial drive. Initially, it was speculated that Kuntz was flagged for moving his head too abruptly, but new insights suggest a different reason.
ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss reported that Patriots special teams coordinator Cam Achord revealed the officiating crew's explanation: Kuntz was penalized for simultaneously sliding the ball and moving his hand, a technique reportedly under scrutiny by the league.
McAulay Questions Call
However, this explanation has raised eyebrows. During a replay analysis on Amazon Prime, renowned rules analyst and former referee Terry McAulay expressed skepticism. McAulay highlighted the absence of any quick or abrupt movement by Kuntz, stating that the long snapper's actions appeared to be standard for his position.
Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin, in his post-game press conference, acknowledged receiving an explanation for the call, though he did not specify if it aligned with what the Patriots were told. Tomlin's reservation about the call's validity was palpable, and it's anticipated that he may offer more insight during his upcoming weekly press briefing.
This incident has sparked a broader discussion about the consistency of officiating in the NFL. Veteran sports analyst Peter King, speaking on PFT Live, pointed out the common tolerance for various pre-snap movements by offensive linemen.
These include early departures by tackles aiming to better counter edge rushers. King’s commentary underscores the perplexity surrounding the decision to penalize Kuntz, especially given the critical nature of the game's context.
As the debate continues, this call against Kuntz stands out as a controversial moment, one that might prompt further discussions on officiating standards in the NFL, especially in high-stakes situations. The Steelers, having suffered a setback in this closely contested game, and the NFL community await further clarification on this contentious ruling.