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NFL: 2 Steeler penalties were in error




The NFL does not generally make public announcements regarding mistaken calls by the referees. Occasionally, they will contact the team with such an admission, and these conversations are generally confidential. Generally, these conversations are only leaked out, and Vikings coach Brad Childress found out two weeks ago that the league doesn’t appreciate these admissions making the public wire. He was fined for disclosing this confidential information.

It’s unknown whether a league or team source was the tip-off, but Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Gerry Dulac  reported on Friday that the NFL had agreed with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on two contested calls from the Monday night game. The two calls on consecutive plays helped set up the Bengals on the 1-yard line for a fourth-quarter touchdown:

  • A low-hit call on Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was penalized 15 yards on nose tackle Casey Hampton.
  • Cornerback Ike Taylor was penalized for pass interference on Bengals receiver Terrell Owens.

The first call is in an odd category of an acceptable call. The league has long told the officials that if they are unsure of head and knee contact being illegal, they should err on the side of safety and call the penalty. So even though the league may agree that there was no penalty because Palmer’s thigh was contacted, and not his knee, the official was following the safety-first provision.

The crew was headed by Ron Winter.

Ben Austro is the editor and founder of Football Zebras and the author of So You Think You Know Football?: The Armchair Ref's Guide to the Official Rules (on sale now)