There are plenty of after action articles, grading the game, etc., so I'm going to lay off of that this week. I will however make a couple of observations. All of these fall under the category of "It's about time."
1.) I didn't see Antwaan Randle El on the field all day and in his place Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown made solid contributions.
2.) Bruce Arians finally ran a slant pattern to Mike Wallace and the result was a touchdown.
3.) After a two-month absence the defensive play calling got back to doing what the Steelers do best and that is blitzing—182 total yards on offense for the Silver and Black with most of it coming in garbage time.
4.) The special teams didn't humiliate themselves.
The first half was by far the best 30 minutes that the Steelers have played all year.
Now to my real point. This game was a joke and the NFL should be embarrassed to call this professional football. Things started out with making a season long example of Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison with a cavalcade of fines, mostly on hits that people who actually know football considered clean. You can read my rant on that topic here.
We should have guessed that it would get worse after Troy Polamalu spoke out and said what a lot of NFL players feel—that there should be some player representation in the League's thought process on the re-interpretation of rules and resulting fines.
You cannot convince me that today's officials were not under instructions to hammer the Steelers. If they weren't then they all took Oakland and the points. 14 penalties for 163 yards, and yes I double checked it.
Some of the more blatant miscalls:
1.) Pass interference on Ike Taylor down the sideline during the second quarter. Both Taylor and the Oakland receiver were looking back to the ball for about 10 yards. That's incidental contact kids.
2.) Having a pick 6 nullified by a roughing the passer call on (you guessed it) linebacker James Harrison. This was not a head shot, Harrision did not lead with his head, and he was within a half step of Jason Campbell when he released the ball.
3.) Defensive encroachment on James Farrior when he did an unbelievable job of timing the snap count and had the ball in the backfield before anyone moved.
4.) The phantom personal foul call on Doug Legersky coming in a pile up over a catch by Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth.
5.) The non-call against Raiders defensive back Michael Huff for face guarding Mike Wallace in the end zone. Huff never even thought about looking back for the ball and might as well have pushed Wallace over by his face.
None of this mattered today as the Steelers throttled the Raiders, and maybe this is just the kind of officiating that Pittsburgh players and fans are going to have to get used to for the remainder of the season.
Today was not professional football. I hope the Steelers get another one of those sorry for the bad officiating letters from the League office this week. They can start wallpapering the locker room with them.
Kind of reminds me of NBA Draft Lottery conspiracy theories.
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