Ravens center Bradley Bozeman appeared to think Huntley was under center rather than in the shotgun when he snapped the ball. The ball rolled to Huntley, who covered it and was getting up when Watt knocked the ball loose. Henry Mondeaux recovered for Pittsburgh.
The botched snap was ruled an aborted play. Watt got credit for a tackle for loss and a forced fumble, and Bozeman and Huntley both were given fumbles.
“It was empty [backfield], and there was a bad snap,” Watt told Albert Breer of SI.com. “He fell on it, but then he got up. And when he got back up on his two feet, I tackled him and got the ball out. So, I mean, he very well could have still thrown the ball. My understanding was that it was a sack, but apparently it wasn’t, at least according to the statisticians.”
The Elias Sports Bureau, which has final say, agreed with the statisticians in Baltimore.
The Steelers confirmed Wednesday that they inquired about the play, hoping to give Watt another sack, but Elias rejected their appeal. Watt’s only sack of Huntley came in the second quarter, allowing him to tie Strahan’s single-season record of 22.5.
Twenty years later, Strahan’s record remains controversial because Packers quarterback Brett Favre appeared to take a dive to allow Strahan to touch him down and break the previous mark of 22.
If Elias had given Watt a sack for the aborted snap, he, too, would have faced questions about the record sack. Alas, three days after the Steelers’ final regular-season game, Elias kept Watt at 22.5, which should be good enough to win him defensive player of the year.