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Steelers Beat Two Teams to Advance

steelershelmet.jpgThe Pittsburgh Steelers beat both the Blue & White and the Black & White on Sunday in a nail-biter that should have spared the nails of thousands. Perhaps the Zebras felt they had to protect their equine pals. Let me count the most obnoxious of the "calls" (or non-calls) made by the men in stripes:

  1. Ben shuffled the ball cleanly to Verron Haynes. Haynes is tackled before the ball gets there. The ball traveled across the line of scrimmage. No pass interference called.
  2. Antwaan Randle El was basically tackled by Marlin Jackson well before the ball got there. Again, no PI call. This was on the Colts 15 yard line and would have led to at least three points, perhaps seven. Instead we were forced to punt.
  3. Manning was sacked at the one but the ball was in the end zone - that's a safety. It doesn't matter where his feet were at first contact, just the ball. Two points taken from us here.
  4. Troy Polamalu intercepted a pass. Duh. Eight point differential here even if the Steelers fail to advance five yards for even a field goal. As many as 15 point swing on this call alone.
  5. As far as I know, there's no such thing as a "redo" in pro sports. Since when can the refs whistle a play dead with four Colts in our backfield pre-snap and not call something? Faneca moved, but if the refs didn't see it, surely they saw the guys in our backfield? No call?
  6. Countless times Steeler pass rushers were drug to the ground. Look up the definition of "holding." Very few holding penalties.

All told, we lost a minimum of 3+2+8 = 13 points and as many as 7+2+15 = 24.

There are many in the Steeler Nation who claim "the fix was in." They contend that the NFL instructed the officials to do all they could to keep the Colts in the game. They claim the NFL couldn't lose both media darlings (the Pats and the Colts) in the same weekend.

I don't buy it. I think the refs were simply that bad. I also think that professional referees - trained, paid professional referees - should be employed by the NFL. The head ref, "Archie Manning" as Shannon Sharpe said in the post-game, took forever under the hood to reverse the call on the field. At least with the "tuck" rule, we were quoted an exact rule. I've seen no such rule quoted in this instance, and every rule I have seen quoted indicates that it was a catch and then a fumble. If Troy had stayed down on the ground it would have been a catch - he clearly fumbled trying to "do more" than just lay there.

At any rate, bygones - I'm pretty sure Morelli and crew won't be the officials at the Denver game or any other post-season games for quite awhile…

Pre-game, nobody gave the Steelers a chance. They talked up Peyton and his 13-0 record. How quickly they forget that Ben was 14-0 as a rookie and that the Steelers - the same stinkin' team - were 15-1 last year. They didn't mention that Ben's YPA was best in the league by a massive margin, that Ben was right behind Peyton in passer rating, and that the Steelers averaged 29.x points the past five weeks - more than the Colts' season-long average. Never mind that the Steelers had a better defense. Never mind that the 26-7 defeat earlier in the year (aided by crowd noise enhancements missing from this much quieter game) was closer than the score indicated.

Ben's now 27-4 as a Steeler starter. That's a winning percentage of 0.871. If a baseball team won as often as Ben, they'd win over 140 games per year.

Next week's game should be a good one.

4 Responses to "Steelers Beat Two Teams to Advance"

  1. The ref got the safety call right. The rule states that a safety can be called when a "Ball carrier retreats from field of play into his own end zone and is downed. Ball carrier provides impetus." When Manning stopped forward progress he was at the one yard line (and so was the ball). The tackle carried him backward into the end zone, but that doesn't matter. Forward progress was at the one.

    As for the Colts rushing offsides on defense, there was never any flag thrown. The side judge blew the play dead and came running in, but never actually threw a flag so it's not a "redo" of the play at all. From what I could see, no lineman from the Colts ever made contact with a Steelers player. Also, I don't think that they ever got into the backfield (at least until after the play was blown dead), so they weren't unabated to the quarterback. The crew all got together, and nobody had seen anything worthy of a call. I think that they got it right in this case.

    I do think that the overturn of the interception was questionable, but I think that the ref did a fairly good job of explaining the way he saw the play.

  2. From certain camera angles, the ball looks like it was through the plane of the end zone when initial contact (thus forward progress) was made, but overall, it seems the right call was made. I'm willing to give you the offsides thing largely because the Steelers got the first down anyway. It's just more proof that the refs were dumb - someone deserved a flag there: Faneca, and failing that, one of the Colts.

    The INT was not "questionable." Nor was the pass interference, nor the hundreds (literally) of holds. I expect tens of them go to unnoticed in a game, but these were both blatant and excessive.

  3. I have to agree with Eric here. How a player can be completely tackled before a pass gets to him while the official is not far away and a penalty doesn't get called is beyond me. Some of the other calls or lack of calls left me scratching my head also.

    I don't know about you Eric, but that fumble on the 2 just about gave me heart failure. Here's to Bettis getting to win the big one in Detroit.

  4. Wow, from my friend Jason, check this out: a post from the Freakonomics author on cheating in the NFL. I've been wanting to read that book for awhile now but haven't had the time. Turns out he's a Steelers fan (there are two authors, so this pertains to only Dubner).