The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to travel and take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18, and the officiating crew has officially been announced for the game. NFL referee Brad Allen and his crew will call Saturday’s game, set to kick off from M&T Bank Stadium at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Usually, which officiating crew is overseeing which game isn't the hottest topic. However, Allen’s team officiating a standalone primetime game seems to have just about everyone on notice. Just last week, Allen and his crew called the Lions-Cowboys game, which ended with a big-time controversy regarding whether or not Lions offensive lineman Taylor Decker had reported as an eligible receiver before catching a two-point conversion that would have given Detroit the lead with just 23 seconds left on the clock.
The Lions insisted that Decker had reported as eligible, while a video before the play did show him (No. 68) having a conversation with the ref, which he stated was him reporting as eligible. Allen, meanwhile, stated that it was actually No. 70 (Dan Skipper) that reported as eligible, which rendered an illegal touching penalty once Decker caught the pass that would have given them the lead, nullifying their successful two-point conversion.
Here’s a look at the video, though without audio confirmation, we’ll never know with 100% certainty who it actually was who reported as an eligible receiver.
Why would Decker walk up to official and not report?— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) December 31, 2023
I guess maybe he didn’t but odd to walk there and not no? pic.twitter.com/QX3s2byAL3
NFL analyst Warren Sharp pointed out after that game that each of Allen’s primetime games had some element of controversy:
Brad Allen has called 3 primetime games this year, per @nflrefstats1— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) December 31, 2023
tonight, with the illegal touching penalty hurting Detroit
the DPI non-call favoring Green Bay and hurting KC (the MVS non-call)
the 10 penalty game against Miami with zero on Philly
what are we doing here
To be fair, missed or controversial calls by NFL officials are more likely “blow up” on social media and national TV as a potential scandal just by the very nature of airing on national television. Still, those are three doozies, and in an era where the integrity of league officials has already been called into question time and time again this season, Steelers fans can’t be overly excited to hear the news that Allen is leading the charge.
NFL officiating has been a popular talking point around the league this season, and the Pittsburgh Steelers have been no exception. Those frustrations boiled over back in Week 8 after some questionable calls against the Jacksonville Jaguars that had both Head Coach Mike Tomlin and wide receiver Diontae Johnson just about ready to boil over. Johnson, specifically, was fined $25k by the league office for his scathing comments about the game officials after the loss.