This Has to Stop

I am in the title referring to the vendetta the referees in the NFL seem to have against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  They beat Oakland 35-3 today at Heinz Field but I was more aggravated by this game than I was by any of their 3 losses this season; indeed I can’t remember the last time a sporting event had me so aggravated.  Maybe when Sid Bream scored.  The Steelers set a franchise record with 168 penalty yards, but that record was actually set by Tony Corrente.  60 of those yards were on 4 completely absurd personal foul calls.  By the 3rd quarter I had texted a friend that Corrente either hates the Steelers or he has money in Vegas, because that was the only logical conclusion one could draw.  Lamar Woodley was flagged for roughing the passer “hitting him high” was the call.  Replay showed that all Woodley did was lightly shove him in the chest.  Ryan Clark was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit.  Replay showed it was shoulder and maybe some helmet into the middle of the back of the Oakland receiver.  James Harrison was flagged for roughing the passer, a call that wiped out a pick 6, for “using his weight to drive the quarterback into the ground.”  Replay showed that Harrison went out of his way to rotate in the air so that he landed beside Campbell, not on him.  Lastly, the Steelers were flagged for supposedly pulling a Raider off of a pile going after a non-fumble.  I saw no such activity but I would have been willing to entertain the thought that CBS simply didn’t have the correct camera angle to show it if not for the Steelers having already been jobbed 3 other times.

Generally speaking the refs are getting entirely too flag happy.  They’ve been instructed to, when in doubt, flag it, and the result is a lot of plays that are simply good solid physical defense, not illegal, not dirty, costing the team 15 yards.  I’d rather they not flag non-fouls; the guy can always be fined later if replay shows its warranted.  It didn’t cost the Steelers the game; as the final score indicates obviously far from it.  But it has seemed to me for awhile, and today just confirmed it, that the Steelers are being singled out as part of Goodell’s vendetta against physical play.  And I for one am fed up.  I told myself when the pick 6 was taken off the board that if the Steelers lost the 21-3 lead they had at the time I was never watching pro football again.  I don’t know if I could’ve kept that pledge; I enjoy football too much.  But that’s how pissed I was.  The game is being ruined in general, and the Steelers in particular are being unfairly targeted.

I would like to credit Dan Fouts for saying after all of those plays enumerated above that they were very questionable calls.  Most of the on-air talent at CBS and Fox is too damned worried about all the money the NFL makes for their networks to be critical of bad calls.  Maybe it helps that Dan Fouts is probably no big fan of the Oakland Raiders.  Either way, I’ll take what I can get.

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