-Steelers: Stop holding Harrison
By: Mike Bires -
Beaver County Times
Friday September 25, 2009 12:09 AM
PITTSBURGH — If referees wanted, they could call holding on every play in any NFL game.
And, according to Steelers inside linebacker James Farrior, the NFL turns a blind eye to countless holding infractions because “this league is about scoring points. So they’ll try to do whatever they can to put more points on the board.”
Maybe that explains why outside James Harrison is sackless after two games.
At least that’s the theory the Steelers adhere to.
Harrison averaged a sack per game as the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. Not only hasn’t he put down a quarterback this season, he’s only had one QB hurry.
From all indications, he is no different than the menacing pass rusher he was a year ago.
So, maybe game-day officials are not calling holding penalties on the men blocking Harrison — which has been Michael Roos, the Titans’ left tackle, and Orlando Pace, the Bears’ left tackle.
Neither Roos nor Pace were penalized when they played the Steelers.
It can be argued that Harrison didn’t play well against Roos, who played in last year’s Pro Bowl, or Pace, an aging 13-year veteran who played in seven straight Pro Bowls from 1999-2005.
The Steelers disagree, especially in regards to Sunday’s 17-14 loss in Chicago.
Because he fears that the NFL will fine him for criticizing referees, Harrison chose not to directly address the officiating in the first two games. But he did say that he was probably held eight to nine times in Chicago.
Andre Frazier, a backup linebacker, counted five instances in which he believed Pace held Harrison on Sunday.
“It’s every week … James Harrison is getting held,” outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. “It’s not like it’s not obvious. It’s in clear view. He’s just not getting the calls.
“Here’s how I look at it. Here’s a guy who was NFL Defensive Player of the Year last year with 16 sacks, and he doesn’t have any sacks. Something’s going on. I think the league has to take a closer look at that.”
The league is doing just that because the Steelers have sent videotape to Mike Pereira, the NFL’s Vice President for Officiating, to support the case.
Harrison, Farrior and Woodley, however, don’t believe the league will instruct officials to keep a closer eye on the tackles blocking Harrison.