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Rarely seen penalty could have cost Steelers

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POSTED December 22, 2013 11:16 p.m.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — A rarely seen penalty nearly spoiled the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 38-31 win Sunday over the Packers.

Defensive lineman Ziggy Hood was called for illegal batting in the third quarter when he poked the ball out of bounds after it had been loose following a blocked field goal.

Officials conferred a few minutes before calling the penalty and awarding the ball back to Green Bay, ruling the Steelers never controlled it and that it never crossed the line of scrimmage of the Steelers 5.

Referee Carl Cheffers described batting to a pool reporter as an intentional act of striking the ball in a loose ball situation in the direction of a team’s own goal line.

Pittsburgh held on after a Packers pass into the end zone sailed incomplete as time expired.

Steelers safety Ryan Clark said he had possession but lateraled the ball when he was slowed by a sprained ankle. The ball ended up squirting free.

“It’s human error in this game,” Clark said. “The guy didn’t see it, he didn’t have the opportunity to know if I had possession, so he made the call that he saw and that’s part of football. It’s no big deal, we won.”

Cheffers, though, said the officials took extra time to determine whether or not there was possession. He also said the Packers could have advanced the ball since it never crossed the line of scrimmage.

“Any time the ball is behind the line of scrimmage on a blocked field goal like that, the offensive team has every right to advance the ball,” Cheffers said.

The frantic sequence of events started when Steve McClendon blocked Mason Crosby’s 23-yard try.

“I know batting is a penalty, but I didn’t know that it would get us the ball back,” Crosby said. “Happy it did, but we came out on the short end.”

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