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Referee's Bizarre Blunder Hurts Browns and Helps Steelers in Game-Changing Moment

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The Browns, once again, can’t catch a break.

In Sunday’s 33-18 loss to the Steelers, Cleveland got jobbed by one of the most egregiously bad spots you’ll ever see.

With time running down in the first half, the Steelers were driving deep into Cleveland territory, holding a 7-6 lead.

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Steelers running back James Conner ran up the middle and appeared to have been stopped at the 5-yard line with about 35 second left — but the referee inexplicably spotted the ball at the 3-yard line.

The Steelers went on to pick up the first down on the next play and, after a timeout, score on a 1-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown.

The Steelers went into halftime up 14-6 and went to win 33-18 to improve to 4-2-1 and take the lead in the AFC North.

The play probably wouldn’t have had any impact on the outcome, but it’s an inexcusable mistake by the referees to miss the spot by two yards.

It’s not the first time this year the Browns (2-5-1) have been the victim of a blown call.

In a 38-14 week loss to the Chargers two weeks ago, an official missed a false start call on a play that resulted in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Tyrell Williams. It was such an obvious mistake that the official was fired by the NFL for poor performance.

Then there was this play in Week 4 against the Raiders where an obvious fumble by Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was blown dead and ruled a sack.

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The Browns were up 35-34 at that point, and wound up scoring on the next drive anyway to make it 42-34, but still, inexcusable.

The league even admitted to the mistake after the game.

“Obviously, this is a fumble. We should not have blown the whistle,” said Al Riveron, the NFL’s head of officiating, reported SB Nation. “But because we ruled forward progress on this play, this play is not reviewable.”

One wonders if the NFL will have a mea culpa on this latest blunder.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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