Philip, I utterly agree about the penalties. But I would go farther: I think the refs were FAR too obtrusive AND far too often wrong. I think they blew some calls, especially on the sorts of calls that involved plays that were “no harm/no foul” type of situations.
The roughing the passer call against the Cards was terrible, for instance. Outrageously bad. If a man that big is moving that fast, he can’t be expected to stop short. When he hit Roethlisberger, he did extend his hands — but he also actually pulled up, rather than continuing to plow into Roethlisberger. he didn’t pile on; he just stopped himself. This is football, not pattie-cakes. The call stunk.
The holding call in the endzone on the Steelers stunk, too. The defensive player was bowling over the guard. The guard fell backwards. The defensive guy fell on top. The defensive guy was going down regardless. The guard no more “held” him than he did a deliberate pratfall. He did NOT pull the defensive guy on top of him on purpose. THe call stunk.
The rushing-into-the-holder call against the Cards stunk, too. It was, at worst, an unintentional foul, not a personal foul. At worst it should have been five yards and no automatic first down. The call stunk.
The final fumble by Warner ought to have been reviewed, with an official stoppage of play. The officials in the booth may well have taken a quick look and been convinced, but on a play that important, they ought to have taken their time, ordered a stop in play, and reviewed it in very slow motion to be absolutely sure. The whole game rode in the balance. The call (the refusal to stop play to do a review) stunk.
The personal foul against the Steelers DB on the sideline in the fourth quarter was iffy. Yes, he held on a little long after he had pushed the guy out of bounds. Yes, when the runner objected by chopping at the DB’s arms, the DB retaliated with a tiny little shove. But it wasn’t a punch, wasn’t a swing, wasn’t anything more than a harmless skirmish — and the DB was surrounded by Cards who were at least as aggressively challenging him as he was challenging them. MAYBE it was a personal foul, technically, but if so it barely qualified. Considering the circumstances, the call stunk.
And I just did all that from memory. There were three or four other times when I thought the officials should have just let the players play the damn game. Other than the late personal foul by James Harrison — RE-knocking over the Card blocker who alread was on the ground, after the play was over — I thought it was a comparatively clean game. It was NOT out of control in a way that required such refereeing intervention.
Finally, I still remain unconvinced that Roethlisberger’s knee actually touched ground on his first would-be touchdown. I bet that as the NFL goes over and over that play again in the days to come, and uses all the technology at their disposal, they will find that his knee never actually touched. Unless the original call was CLEARLY and UNAMBIGUOUSLY wrong, there should not be an overrule. That’s the rule. But the rule was ignored.
Overall, then, the officiating stunk. But the game was absolutely awesome despite it all.