If the knee of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell had struck the ground before the ball broke the front of the plane of the goal line, the NFL would have faced a second straight Monday night officiating controversy.

On a night when plenty of Steelers fans were in San Diego, the clock operator apparently wasn’t waving a Terrible Towel. The kickoff from the Chargers following a 54-yard field goal that put the home team up by three sailed out of the end zone with 2:56 to play. And when the play ended the clock inexplicably started to tick, with a total of 18 seconds bleeding off before stopping at 2:38.

That’s based on the clock shown at the bottom of the ESPN screen. At one point, Steelers quarterback Mike Vick is seen walking onto the field, and the game clock can be seen running in the background from 2:48 all the way to 2:38, at a time when the clock should not have been running.

No one noticed it at the time. Not the officials, not ESPN.

Well, not everyone at ESPN. Producer Jason Vida tweeted about it, calling it a loss of 24 seconds. The correct number seems to be 18.

Either way, it would have been a major mess for the NFL if the Steelers had failed to score on the final drive due to the clock running out. It should still be a mess for the league and ESPN, because someone should have noticed it and done something about it before the Steelers took their first snap after the kickoff.

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