While the Pittsburgh Steelers have been heavily penalized in 2018, it would be fair to say that not all the calls made against them have actually warranted a flag. Just like in every NFL game this season, questionable decisions by referees have been impacting results on a weekly basis and the Steelers have seen more than enough penalties incorrectly called against them through the first five weeks.
As a member of the competition committee, Mike Tomlin has appeared reluctant to be drawn into the debate surrounding the standard of referring and recent changes in emphasis regarding certain rules, but that all seemed to change in the wake of his team’s win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5.
When speaking to the media after the game, Tomlin was clearly unhappy with the way the game had been officiated. While he had no issue with either of the hands to the face penalties called against Bud Dupree, the same could not be said about some of the other flags thrown during the contest.
“Those looked like legitimate calls, we’ve gotta be better there, but some of the other stuff, man, is a joke. We’ve gotta get better as a National Football League. Man, these penalties are costing people games and jobs. We,ve gotta get them correct. So I’m pissed about it, to be quite honest with you, but that’s all I’m gonna say on it.”
Presumably upset by the call against T.J. Watt for roughing the passer, or the one against Jon Bostic for the same perceived infraction, there can be little doubt that his complaints will fall on deaf ears, but interesting to note that he finally said something.
Watt was equally confused about what he was supposed to do when he was obviously trying to avoid Matt Ryan and barely made contact with the quarterback.
T.J. Watt said he attempted to move off Matt Ryan on his roughing the passer call, wasn’t sure what else to do. pic.twitter.com/I5guG8mDDT— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 7, 2018
Even though he knows he could have done nothing different on the play, the young defender is still preparing himself for a fine, as reported by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
“I understand the rules. I’m not a dirty player. I tried to pull off him at the end. Whether the ref saw it or not, I understand why they call it. It was a low hit. But I tried to pull my arms off. We’ll see if I get a check in the mail or not. ... It puts us in a bind because I don’t know what else I can do. I couldn’t have rolled off, then I risk hitting someone in the knees or hurting myself.”
Big brother J.J. was also left trying to understand what his younger sibling was meant to do.
Would love to hear the explanation on how this was “roughing the passer” pic.twitter.com/Fv7reMBH84— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) October 7, 2018
When it came to the penalty called on Bostic, not even the referees could help explain to the middle linebacker what he had done wrong on the play.
Jon Bostic, on why he was given a personal foul flag after his sack of Matt Ryan:— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) October 7, 2018
"To be honest, I don’t know. I tried to ask the ref, he said he didn’t know. So..."
Considering some of the calls made in a number of contest just this weekend alone, it is highly unlikely the penalties called against the Steelers will garner much attention from the league office. The NFL’s problems extend far beyond some bogus roughing the passer penalties in Pittsburgh, with incorrect decisions once again directly impacting the outcomes of some close games in Week 5.
Update: While the league is clearly prepared to nothing about the horrible way they are calling games, they are prepared to consider fining coaches for daring to speak the truth about the situation. That makes sense.
NFL exec. VP of Football Operations Troy Vincent has been in touch with #Steelers coach Mike Tomlin for his comments on the officiating, I’m told. It is being reviewed for a possible fine, though often post-game comments are given more latitude because of the emotion involved.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 8, 2018