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Steelers close out Ravens after close first down measurement

Will the NFL ever improve the technology around spotting the ball?

Alex Kirshner

The Pittsburgh Steelers held off a late surge by the Baltimore Ravens to win a rare Wednesday game. The Steelers won 19-14 in Week 12 to improve to 11-0 and take a three game lead over the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North.

It was an ugly game with some poor execution by both teams, and it’s not surprising the referees had their own struggles. A late 4th and inches call went Pittsburgh’s way, and the decision raised a couple significant issues that the NFL is not doing nearly enough to address.

The Ravens cut the Steelers lead to 19-14 with 2:58 remaining when Trace McSorley connected with Marquise Brown for a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown. The Steelers took over at their own 16 and picked up a pair of first downs. just before the two-minute warning. One more first down and the game would be over.

After two runs, the Steelers faced a 3rd and 1 with 1:19 to go. Benny Snell took the handoff to the left and went down after getting roughly a yard. The crew came out with the chains to measure it and decided this was the Steelers getting enough for the conversion.

First off, the ball appears to not reach the end of the chain. The NFL referees have had their share of struggles, so it would not be surprising if they messed up this call.

It’s possible the camera angle throws that off a bit, so maybe it was in fact past the chain. Even if we give them the benefit of the doubt, it still remains baffling how the NFL does not use a chip to track the spot. Technology is at a point where there has to be a way to figure out where the ball is rather than just eyeballing it.

Maybe the Steelers go for it on 4th down and convert to close it out. But they also might have elected to punt or gone for it and failed on 4th down, thus giving the Ravens one more chance to win the game. We’ll never know, and it seems baffling the league does not figure out how to better use technology.