Saturday, January 15, 2011

Non-call on Steelers touchdown comes under scrutiny

Jeff Triplette and his officiating crew had a rough night Saturday night in Pittsburgh, but a non-call on Pittsburgh’s game-winning touchdown looks like the right decision.
We’ve heard from a lot of folks that believe Steelers tight end David Johnson committed a false start on Rashard Mendenhall’s decisive two-yard score.  After re-watching the play repeatedly in slow motion, it looks like a good non-call.
The confusion comes because Johnson flinches or falls out of his stance.  At full speed, it looks like he may have jumped early.  But Johnson flinches right when the ball is snapped, not before.  If anything, the flinch causes Johnson to be a second late to the play.
Getting this one right doesn’t mean that Triplette’s crew had a good night.  Johnson also committed a clear hold moments before the winning touchdown on the same play Baltimore’s Terrence Cody was called for defensive holding.   (The call on Cody looked legit, but there should have been offsetting penalties.)
The holding call on Baltimore on the Ravens’ apparent punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter was also questionable.  Triplette often looks indecisive and struggles to explain calls clearly.
While the officiating was shaky, it didn’t feel like the difference in the game.
“I’m not in any position to rate the referees,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after the game.  “It’s not something  I’m qualified to do.   I don’t have a problem with that right now.”
Baltimore had fewer than 200 yards of offense and turned the ball over three times in the second half.  They gave up a 58-yard pass to Antonio Brown on third-and-19 late in a tie game.  Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh took turns dropping game-crushing passes.
The Ravens only have themselves to blame for all of the unforced errors in their disastrous second half collapse.

author:  Gregg Rosenthal

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