I usually make it a point to be overly critical of calls in the Steelers’ favor (or the Penguins), because as an upfront Pittsburgh fan, it makes me look all awesomely objective on this blog when I’m like “The Steelers got away with this holding call” and everyone’s like “Wow he’s so objective, now I’m totally gonna pay attention to everything else he’s saying, and also sleep with him!” (That was a supermodel saying that. That’s the majority of my readers – WordPress totally tracks that.)
That said, the furor over the Steelers’ victory in Miami Sunday regarding Ben Roethlisberger’s fumble that the Steelers retained is incredibly misguided and overblown. Yes, the Steelers got lucky when the ref signaled “Touchdown,” but that’s it — there’s no more to this story than the ref signaling a Touchdown after incorrectly eyeballing in real-time that Ben Roethlisberger had actually begun to lose the ball before breaking the plane. Once that call has been made on the field, the inconclusive recovery of the ball becomes moot. This is not, as several sources have insinuated, some sort of Pittsburgh-riddled conspiracy of pierogie-eating homers hell-bent on covering up how the deal really went dahn.
We learned from the Ed Hochuli Broncos/Chargers “apology” game from last year that once a call on the field has been made — such as a Touchdown signal or an out-of-bounds determination — that even if a replay overturns that ruling, the refs can’t then say “Now everything that happened after that play-ending ruling suddenly counts.” How can the scramble for the ball in the end zone be relevant to this discussion? After a Touchdown signal, even an incorrect one, the play is over — there’s no way we can ever tell how the scrum for the loose ball would’ve played out if the Touchdown had never been signaled.
Lost in this discussion, too, is the fact that Jonathan Scott claims he had the ball under the pile, and was backed by several Steelers who were around him at the time, which would’ve given the Steelers a touchdown and ironically been a much worse outcome for the Dolphins than the field goal that Pittsburgh ended up kicking. Obviously this doesn’t prove the Steelers had the ball, but in the rage over the ref’s incorrect Touchdown ruling, we can’t lose sight of the very basic fact that Miami might not have gotten the ball anyway. Plus Miami’s offense got the ball back with two minutes on the clock down by one point and couldn’t get a first down. Like all blown calls in sports, a thousand things could’ve gone differently in this game, and boiling everything down to one premature Touchdown call and saying that its inconclusive aftermath completely determined this game’s outcome is shortsighted and overly convenient.
Also, the fact that ref Gene Steratore Jr. lives in Washington PA is completely irrelevant to this story, and the fact that multiple news organizations are bringing it up in conjunction with the replay ruling borders upon tabloid journalism. Ed Bouchette mentions this western PA connection in the fourth paragraph of his P-G game story, but also says in the P-G video (previous link) that it’s an irrelevant detail. Then why mention it in the game story? Is this passive-aggressive, argument-baiting under the guise of just being factual and completest, or does the P-G usually print irrelevant details in the fourth paragraphs of its news stories?
Also, how frickin’ stupid would a ref have to be to make a call based on where he’s from? You know which other refs come from places? Literally every other one. All humans do, in fact. Unless we can convince Jodie Foster’s Nell to ref every NFL game, the refs are always going to have hometown ties. Do we really think the call played out like this:
Umpire: So what’s the ruling?
Gene Steratore: DURRRRR!!!! I from Washingtun Pee Ayyy, I like me the Steelurs! Let give them ball so they win all nice like! My mom no beat me when Steelurs win all nice like. Win make dragon in me head give thumbs up unstead of fire. I no like the head fires!!! AGAGGGHHHHHSHSH!!!!!
Umpire: You’re the boss.
So, that’s pretty much how it went down. Steelers move to 5-1, and Aaron Smith is out for the season with a torn tricep, just 3 years after being out for the year with a torn bicep. Dude needs to be more careful with his ‘ceps.