For the second week in a row, Monday Night Football came down to a dramatic ending with an official's call determining the outcome. This time, unlike last week, the call was made properly and it's worth noting that it was made by Sarah Thomas, the NFL's first female official.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had the ball at the San Diego Chargers' 1-yard line with only five seconds left and called a play where the ball was snapped directly to Le'Veon Bell. He was initially stopped but managed to plow across the goal line as time expired, reaching the ball across for a touchdown a nano-second before his knee touched. Thomas was the line judge and she raised her hand to signal touchdown. A replay review confirmed the score and the Steelers won 24-20 in an amazing fourth quarter.
I am noting Thomas' gender for one reason -- had she missed the call, she would have been attacked on social media in a very sexist manner (anyone doubt me on this?). Women shouldn't be referees, blah, blah, blah, the bigots would have cried. So it's important to note that in her highest-profile assignment to date, with millions watching, Thomas nailed it. The same can't be said for the male referee in last week's Seahawks-Lions game, yet no one pointed out his gender when being critical.
It was a bang-bang play and not an easy call and yet she made it decisively. Here is what the former head of NFL officials tweeted tonight:
Going to sign off. Do need to give kudos to Sarah Thomas for getting the call right at the end. She has stood up to the challenge. See ya— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 13, 2015
Here is the play in question:
I have no doubt that Thomas will blow a call at some point. But it's not because she's a woman, it's because she's human.