As a fan, I’ve been somewhat tolerant of the NFL Replacement Officials this season. After all, these are mainly college officials from smaller schools thrust into the limelight under a ton of pressure. Every missed call can turn the outcome of game upside down potentially. Having said that, things have gotten worse rather than better through the first 2 weeks of the regular season.
Speaking from the Steelers perspective, the officials couldn’t have been worse on Sunday afternoon. I understand they are still new to the NFL but good grief, honestly! Talk to any other fan of another team and they’ll have similar thoughts I’m sure about their teams’ experiences with the replacements.
Two Steelers in particular took the brunt of the blunders at Heinz Field in week 2. Ike Taylor was called for a phantom pass interference as the first “questionable” flag came down. There was barely any contact on the pattern but somehow the officials threw the flag almost as quickly as a James Harrison roughing the passer penalty.
That play kept the Jets drive alive and ultimately lead to a Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes TD pass. Taylor was caught looking into the backfield as Holmes raced into the endzone. While the Touchdown was just a good play by Holmes and a bad one by Ike, you were getting the impression that perhaps Ike was in for a long day. All the while Santonio was jawing with Taylor and inciting a frenzy of trash talk from #24. If you didn’t realize it by now, and I’m sure you have, these officials are clearly influenced by the players if they scream enough. Had this game been in New York, the fans would have influenced the refs even more. Taylor was also called for holding later in the game, that too though was clearly on Taylor
Ryan Clark, in his first action of the season, finished with 8 Tackles and 1 Assist, and also put on a clinic of how to separate the receiver from the ball. On an intermediate pass from Sanchez, Santonio Holmes had the ball for a split second before Clark came in like a missile and cleanly blasted Santonio as the ball dropped to the turf. There was no helmet to helmet contact, just a hard, clean hit. Almost before Clark made the hit, the flag was thrown but oddly enough there wasn’t an hour long debate about it. The ruling was pass interference on Ike Taylor of all things!
The Heinz Field crowd went absolutely bonkers with the boos and Mike Tomlin was as livid as we’ve ever seen him on the sidelines. Not only did they get the call wrong; but the hit was textbook. That penalty kept the Jets drive alive while the jeers from the Steeler faithful continued. Fortunately the defense was able to recover and not allow a New York score but still, it was as bad a call as you can get.
Was this a knee jerk reaction to the Steelers reputation for being big hitters and anti Roger Goodell? If this were the normal NFL officials I’d probably say so, but these replacements must think they are getting paid by the penalty rather than the game.
Ultimately the Steelers prevailed, 27-10, but as former Head of Officiating for the NFL Mike Periera pointed out via Twitter Sunday evening: @MikePereira – I’m officially over it. The regular refs need to get back on the field. Enough is enough.