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Here’s why Broncos’ 11-10 win vs. 49ers should’ve been the first such final score in NFL history

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When the Broncos beat the 49ers in a Week 3 defensive battle on Sunday night to win 11–10, they became the second team in NFL history to win a game by that final score. But there is reason to believe that Sunday’s match was to be the first occasion of an 11-10 final. It dates back to 2008, when the Steelers beat the Chargers by the same scoreline… but only after a last-second touchdown was erroneously canceled due to a penalty kick against San Diego.

That season, in week 11 (roughly), the Steelers led the Chargers 11–10 with five seconds left. Philip Rivers fired his gun as the Chargers quarterback and had time for one more play from San Diego’s own 20-yard line. He made a short throw to running back LaDainian Tomlinson with three seconds left, and as the clock rolled to zero, Tomlinson proceeded to pass the ball to wide receiver Chris Chambers, who was bouncing around before trying his lateral response to Rivers.

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Chambers’ touchline, which went high, was deflected in the air by Steelers defenseman Troy Polamalu, who then picked up a live ball and passed Malcolm Floyd for a defensive touchdown. The score became 17-10 in favor of the Steelers before an extra point. But that’s when a team of judges came in to steal – and rewrite – the show. Even though the fumble recovery was initially treated as a touchdown, the replay subsequently canceled the call to the field, with the referee stating that an illegal forward pass had occurred and thus, by rule, the play was dead after said pass.

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The last TD was quickly erased and the Steelers won 11–10 instead. Pittsburgh had no reason to complain as the team went 7-3 under Mike Tomlin, then in just his second season as coach, and won Super Bowl XLIII.

But nowhere in the archived footage of Polamalu’s tackling and scoring — and the side kicks that preceded it — does it show that an illegal forward pass was made during the game. Tomlinson throws the ball behind Chambers after catching Rivers’ initial throw, and Chambers’ throw from about the 27-yard line clearly goes backwards and Polamalu knocks him out of the air at about the 23-yard line. The first hook is not as obvious as the second, but the ball never travels upfield or even rushes forward.

It turns out that the fine should not have been issued at all. NFL and referee Scott Green in particular. allowed after the game that Polamalu and the Steelers should have received recognition at the expense, and that the rule was “misinterpreted”. But understand this: they still ruled that there was an illegal forward pass between Tomlinson and Chambers; he just didn’t hit the ground, so the game continued.

The play had three passes. The first was a completed forward pass from San Diego’s Philip Rivers to LaDainian Tomlinson. The second, from Tomlinson to Chris Chambers, was initially ruled a valid back pass, but was then changed to an illegal forward pass in replay. The third, from Chambers, was a legal back pass that hit the ground and was returned for a touchdown by Polamalu of Pittsburgh. …

If any forward pass, legal or illegal, touches the ground, play is immediately abandoned. The refereeing panel erroneously determined that the back pass that Polamalu legally recovered and returned for a touchdown was a pass that was changed to a direct and illegal pass in the replay. The crew therefore ruled that the ball was dead when it hit the ground and the game was over. (In fact, an illegal forward pass – Tomlinson to Chambers – did not touch the ground and therefore the game could continue.) …

Had the situation been properly handled, the defense (Pittsburgh) would have declined the penalty for a mishandled forward pass from Tomlinson to Chambers and would have scored a touchdown.

So the next time you talk about 11-10 points in the NFL, don’t be shy and throw an asterisk at the Steelers-Chargers game for being the first to post such a final. In the meantime, the Broncos and 49ers can rest even more comfortably in the knowledge that they were — unofficially but reliably — the first to finish an NFL game 11-10.



Source: www.cbssports.com

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