NFL fans left fuming after controversial call benefits Patriots vs Steelers on TNF: “The refs need to learn the rules”

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
NFL fans left fuming after controversial call benefits Patriots vs Steelers on TNF

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost 21-18 to the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football and referees were again the center of attention in yet another NFL game. With just three points separating the two sides, a field goal would have tied the game and sent the game into overtime.

In the fourth quarter, as the punt team was out for Pittsburgh, it looked as if a New England defender jumped before the snap. The situation was a 4th-and-3 and a five-yard penalty would have given the Steelers a first down to continue the drive to at least get a field goal.

Instead, the long snapper was penalized for a false start since he was looking down at the ball and looked up. It was considered an unnatural movement before the snap and that left Pittsburgh at 4th-and-8 and having to punt the ball away. But fans felt that it was not the correct call as the snapper needed to look up before snapping the ball to his punter.

NFL fans accuse referees of botching the call in favor of the Patriots over Steelers

Fans were clearly not happy with the referees and they made their feelings clear on X, formerly Twitter. Here are some of the responses:

And if the fans were not enough, even Christian Kuntz, the long snapper in question, came out and directly called out the referees saying he had not flinched or done any unnatural movements. In his opinion, it was clear that it was the Patriots who had jumped and they should have had the first down.

Steelers should not have been in this situation in the first place

The referees might have done the Pittsburgh Steelers no favors but they should never have been trailing by three points at that point in the fourth quarter. The Patriots came into this game with a 2-10 record and had scored six, seven and zero points, respectively, in their last three games against the Colts, Giants and Chargers. They had a new starter in Bailey Zappe and should not have given up 21 points in the first half that doomed them.

It was a repeat of last week's story when they lost to the 2-10 Arizona Cardinals. Both of the losses have been at home and the Steelers entered this stretch with a 7-4 record. Now, they have fallen to 7-6 and are in a dogfight to preserve their postseason hopes. Their next four games are against the Colts, Bengals, Seahawks and Ravens, each of whom are in the playoff hunt.

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Edited by Rit Nanda