After a game that featured plenty of ugly officiating, LaMarr Woodley was cagey when asked about whether the refs had it out for the Steelers.
Are the Pittsburgh Steelers being targeted by officials?
“I’ll let you be the judge of that,” Woodley said with a sly grin after Sunday’s convincing 35-3 victory against the Oakland Raiders. “If you just look across the board and what’s been happening this year, I will let you answer that one.”
There really can be no doubt about how the Steelers feel about this. After the NFL fined him for a hit he made against the Browns, James Harrison became the epicenter of the helmet-against-helmet debate earlier this year, and even claimed to have considered retiring because he worried about whether he would be able to play his game. Fellow Steelers defender Ryan Clark has repeatedly used his Twitter account to dispute the NFL’s decisions (although he hasn’t Tweeted much today, even though he was a victim of a wayward helmet-to-helmet call). Troy Polamalu has said that players should be involved in decisions about punishments for hits. And even Hines Ward has said he should have been allowed back into the game last week after suffering a concussion, but that the decision has been made for him. Steelers on both sides of the ball have made clear that they, as players, want other parties (refs, the NFL, etc.) to interfere with their game less. Today, the refs were way too involved:
It was never more clear than Sunday as Pittsburgh pounded the Raiders into submission. A blowout win was clouded by the enormous number of flags showering Heinz Field. Whether it was linebacker James Harrison getting a roughing-the-passer call on a clean play, or safety Ryan Clark wrongfully called for a helmet-to-helmet blow when Clark made contact with the receiver’s back, there was no flow to an ugly game dominated by officiating.
In what has become virtually another weekly routine, it’s time for the Steelers to await word on possible fines.
Don’t expect this helmet-to-helmet issue to go away anytime soon.