Controversial Rules Cost NFL Teams Victories, Bettors Money

Posted on: December 19, 2017, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: December 19, 2017, 03:50h.

It was an expensive football game for two teams and countless bettors on Sunday. Two rules affected the outcome and cost the Steelers and the Raiders possible victories.

Jesse James
Pittsburgh Tight End thought he had scored the winning touchdown but referees ruled his catch was bobbled and ruled it incomplete. (Image: Barry Reeger/Special to Penn Live)

It also influenced the total points and the spread and some of the people that wagered on the games got a bad beat.

Both teams were playoff contenders and the defeat cost Pittsburgh home field advantage and possibly knocked the Raiders out of the postseason. Each rules decision had to do with the end zone and both had the call go against them.

“It was a tough, hard-fought game,” said Pittsburgh Coach Mike Tomlin. “We came up short. I appreciate the efforts of the guys.”

Steelers Touchdown Pass Ruled Incomplete

Pittsburgh, who had lost seven of the last nine to New England, was down by three and 10 yards away from the end zone with 28 seconds remaining. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a pass to tight end Jesse James who appeared to cross the plane of the goal line.

Replay ruled he did not have possession and it was called an incomplete pass. Roethlisberger threw an interception two plays later and his team lost, 27-24.

If the touchdown had been upheld the Steelers would have likely won 31-27. With the line at 2 ½ points they would have covered. Also those who had the over at 54 ½ would have collected as well. It was their fourth consecutive loss against the spread.

The loss also gave the Patriots home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs since they now own the tiebreaker over Tomlin’s group.

The outcry on social media about the rule was huge as fans were blowing up Twitter with rants about how the Steelers got robbed. Mike Pereira, a former vice president of officiating in the NFL and now a television analyst, told his Twitter followers the refs got the call correct.

“Look, here is the rule. If you’re going to the ground you have to hold onto the ball when the ball hits the ground…Going to the ground trumps lunging/reaching to try and get extra yards or score a TD. You do that at your own risk. It’s incomplete,” he tweeted.

Raiders On Wrong End of Fumble Call

Less than four hours later Oakland was experiencing its own heartbreak regarding the rules. The first was when the referee used a folded index card to help with a measurement on a fourth down play late in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 17. It was ruled a first down and allowed Dallas to keep their drive alive. They ultimately kicked a field goal for a 20-17 lead.

The Raiders then marched down the field and quarterback Derek Carr tried to score the tying touchdown but right when he got to the goal line, he fumbled and the ball rolled out of the end zone.

If the ball had gone out anywhere else on the field they would have retained possession, but the rule states a ball that goes out of the end zone is a touchback. The Cowboys held on to win the game.

If Oakland had scored or kicked a field goal to send it into overtime they could have possibly kept their playoff hopes alive. Bettors also would have benefitted from them covering the spread. In the end, however, both turned out to be losers.