B.J. Finney can laugh now at the false start that was because of the snap that wasn’t, and how a penalty became a punch line.
All of the linemen, the referee announced after rolling his arms to indicate the infraction, except the center.
“As soon as everybody moved, I knew,” Finney said, “And I was like…”
Finney dropped his head and let out a groan.
The Steelers were doing so poorly on offense against the Patriots that they literally didn’t even snap the ball pic.twitter.com/jiFlDJOgcV
— Someone's An Idiot (@SomeonesAnIdiot) September 9, 2019
As Alejandro Villanueva and Ramon Foster stepped back to pass block to his left and David DeCastro and Matt Feiler to his right and defenders slipped past, Finney was still clutching the football in his right hand.
That’s when Finney realized that he got the snap count wrong. Against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. On Sunday Night Football. After the whistle, he turned toward the huddle and held up two fingers — only to be told that he was supposed to snap on one.
“It was a miscommunication,” Finney said, with a laugh. “That’s all it was. … I got the wrong one, obviously.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers backup center can chuckle at how he became an instant social-media sensation, a moment of levity in the lopsided 33-3 loss to the Patriots on Sunday in Foxborough.
And, yes, he’s seen the memes.
Finney can’t help but laugh at the one that has him all alone in a darkened Gillette Stadium, clutching the football in his right hand. Legend has it that he’s still there.
Legend has it that he’s still there… pic.twitter.com/m0rKSqHW3O
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) September 9, 2019
“Guys from back home have been crucifying me over it,” Finney said, “so I’m aware of what’s being said.”
Guys in the Steelers locker room at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex are crushing Finney over it, too. Inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich ribbed Finney that he hadn’t seen such a penalty since high school. And Finney’s fellow offensive linemen are giving him good-natured grief about the play that propelled him to sudden social-media stardom.
The Steelers can laugh with their latest legend.
“I love and hate the internet,” said Foster, who is using Finney’s flub to deflect shots at his Tennessee Volunteers starting 0-2. “Those (memes) are the reason I love the internet right there.”
What’s the funniest thing from the sports weekend?
— Chris Karaoke (@ChrisCoteESPN) September 9, 2019
For as much fun everyone is having at Finney’s expense, that he is one injury away from being a starter is no laughing matter. Not after Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey left the season opener Sunday night at New England with an ankle injury that caused him to miss practice Wednesday.
If Pouncey can’t play, Finney will step into the starting lineup at center. The Steelers linemen called Finney the Crash Test Dummy, for his willingness to do anything to make the team as an undrafted free agent out of Kansas State. That attitude is why Finney is respected in the room and why the Steelers don’t expect him to miss a beat, let alone screw up another snap count.
“That dude is starter-capable,” Foster said, noting that the Steelers placed a second-round tender of $3.09 million to prevent the restricted free agent from leaving. “I mean, they had to push up his pay to get him to stay so he’s a very valuable dude to us. Not only that, but he’s worked his butt off. He’s done everything you’ve asked a guy to do, from being a young guy doing grunt work to a veteran who’s upped his game.
“We have a luxury here with him.”
And the Steelers have had some laughs because of him.
Finney shrugs, preparing like a starter while swearing to have a “goldfish memory” about his infamous moment. Getting the snap count straight will be foremost on Finney’s mind.
“You’ve got to move on, next play,” Finney said. “If I get put into the role where I’m starting, it’s just business as usual so you’ve just got to step up and deliver.”
And it’s safe to expect no more snap-count snafus.