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Wild Card liveblog: Steelers at Bengals


2015 AFC Wild Card Playoff

Follow us here for rolling coverage of the calls and rules interpretations of the Steelers-Bengals Wild Card Playoff game from Paul Brown Stadium in Houston. If you have any questions or comments, use the comments section of this post or tweet us @footballzebras.

Tonight’s crew is headed by John Parry.


Yrs 2015 crew College Occupation
R 132 John Parry 16 Purdue financial advisor
U 131 Mark Pellis 2 Parry Allegheny financial advisor
HL 8 Dana McKenzie 8 (swing) Toledo claims adjuster
LJ 107 Ron Marinucci 19 Hussey Glassboro State vice president, novelty cone company
FJ 82 Buddy Horton 17 Corrente Oregon State water service worker
SJ 1 Scott Novak 2 Cheffers Phoenix sales manager
BJ 46 Perry Paganelli 18 Parry Hope College retired high school administrator
  • Replay Official: Tom Sifferman
  • Alternates: TBA
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65 thoughts on “Wild Card liveblog: Steelers at Bengals

  1. Line of scrimmage alternate is HL Ed Camp, was seen during that last unsportsmanlike conference between Parry and his crew members.

  2. IMO bad call on the personal foul on the hit on receiver. We wasn’t defenseless receiver. Had caught the ball took two steps and became a runner. Player came in with shoulder and hit high on chest.

  3. John parry officiating crew terrible. The two big hits so far. Zebras call bengals for high shoulder to shoulder hit then DONT call hel met to helmet hit on steelers. And that is the only case of duplicity. For bengals it is a fumble. When steelers fumble it anything but fumble. Hey john P how much $$$$ dud you get? The refs are more to blame for inciting fans players with their kindergarten officiating. Who made the insipid decision to have these rubes officiate this game.

  4. No dog in the hunt personally, but did notice inconsistencies in what is(and is not) being called targeting.

  5. @Gena Turner

    The officiating might be kindergarten, but your grammar is at most second-grade.

  6. We’re these refs paid by Cincinnati? This was some of the worst I have ever seen. Clearly, the refs were biased towards Cincinnati. Why didn’t they just let them loose on the Steelers’ bench instead of the field? It was disgusting to watch. Is this the NFL WAY? I have never complained, but this was more than I could stand.

  7. @Gena Turner
    @Gayle Timko Giger

    Why don’t you two talk it out, figure out who was paying whom, and get back to us.

  8. Bengals got screwed. Inconsistencies in the calls today. The one helmet to helmet hit by the steelers was not called and the two shoulder hits were called. The last penalty was ludicrous since Bengals were trying to apologize to Brown until the Pittsburg coach (same one who grabbed hair earlier in the game) shoved the bengals player which led to the scrum. If anything, an unsportsmanlike penalty should have been called on the Steelers there.

    It’s playoffs. Let me play. QBs shouldn’t be throwing hospital passes anyways.

  9. I find it hilarious that whoever you people are can armchair criticize as well as you do. This wasn’t even football…this was a professional street fight that had to be one of the toughest things maybe ever to officiate. I don’t ref football and I guarantee none of you referee anything meaningful if at all, so yes….we can debate accuracy of some of the calls but to do anything other than give the guys a pat on the back for trying their best to keep order is sinful.

  10. These guys get payed pretty well. I expect results, just like in any other business in the U.S. They get paid to make the right calls.

  11. 27 years officiating and I thought they did a really good job when you consider the weather, the thug-like playing of both teams, and overcoming the TERRIBLE, absolutley TERRIBLE DPI against Pitt. to set up Cinci’s TD in 3rd Qtr. Very minimal contact, ball was slightly underthrown, AND the receiver got TWO HANDS on the ball. Good job by Parry. Too bad they don’t have a game next week. BTW I am a Giants’ fan, so no horse in tonight’s race, as they say. I will add, that how that FJ with the huge gut get s a game is ridiculous. So much for what we here in NCAA and HS (and I heard on Sundays) about LOOKING good and being fit. Oh, well…he has other obvious ‘attributes’ the League looks for, I guess.

  12. Why can’t we just kick both teams out of the playoffs for bad behavior?

  13. Hey Ben, curious if NFLOA has a debrief and review policy in effect for each playoff crew, including replay official, within a day of a game? Certainly would help towards establishing consistency and give insight in how to handle some of the situations that arise. I know how much difference it made to be able to review and critique our performance, as well as see how others view our performance.

  14. Really would like to know why Pac Man Jones got that second penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the game. I did not see anything physical. There is nothing he could have said that warranted such a game altering penalty. The TV feed never picked up any physical contact from Jones that I saw.

    The FJ Buddy Horton who threw that flag has some splaining to do. What in the world was said that justified giving Pittsburgh 15 yards?

    And, while on the subject of Buddy Horton… looks like he spends too much time at Tim Hortons!

  15. Unrelated…It is time to can Marvin Lewis.

    The undisciplined behavior of the Bengals is unacceptable. They need a new leader.

  16. John Parry did a great job. Even before the game and how they were at midfield set the tone of what the night would be like. The Bengals behavior cost them the game. You don’t need to do something stupid like that with under 30 seconds left in the game. This crew deserves more love

  17. FJ Buddy Horton violated Ofiicating101…do not determine the outcome of the game! I would like to know why Pittsburg Coach Joey Porter is doing out on the field in the middle of several Bengals players baiting them? He wasn’t even attending to an injured player. Is he even allowed on the field to do that? The call on Bengals DB was very questionable. Pittsburg receiver took 2 maybe 3 steps saw the hit coming and ducked. How is this a hit on a defensive player? The hit by Shazier on Gio Bernard was far worse and didn’t even draw a flag. Now for the Bryant circus catch for a TD. Am I the only one in the world that saw the ball separate from Bryant’s hand and leg and then when he re-rapped it on his leg his 2nd foot was out of bounds? I’ve watched this play over and over and he never had control. Makes you think the NFL is fixed!

  18. Ok, I understand the last calls against Burfect and Jones but what about the helmet to helmet no call on Giovanni Bernard by Shazier. This is when the game lost control. The fans went crazy as well as the players. Than to add insult to injury the challenge flag came out from Tomlin and Pittsburgh was awarded the ball. In what universe is a helmet to helmet hit legal, You tell me. The officials, the commentators got it wrong. This game was thrown. I am disgusted go Denver.

  19. Rule 13 – Section 1, Article 8

    Article 8
    Non-player personnel of a club (e.g., management personnel, coaches, trainers, equipment men) are prohibited from making unnecessary physical contact with or directing abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures at
    opponents, game officials, or representatives of the League.
    Penalty: Loss of 15 yards. (Unsportsmanlike Conduct.) Enforcement is from:

    a)the succeeding spot if the ball is dead;
    b)the previous spot if the ball was in play; or
    c)whatever spot the Referee, after consulting with the crew, deems equitable. (Palpably Unfair Act.)
    Note: Violations which occur before or during the game may result in disqualification in addition to the yardage penalty. Any violation at the game site on the day of the game, including postgame, may result in discipline by the Commissioner.

    Why was this not enforced on Joey Porter? Porter was clearly on the field inciting the Bengals. Field Judge Buddy Horton clearly fell for it and determined the outcome of the game.

  20. You’re wasting time on this website asking questions about calls. Ben and his minions don’t respond to them. It’s not within the content of their character. It’s not who they are, but they are always happy to tell you when they’re in somebody’s Top 100. It’s the least they can do, and Least Worst is where they set the bar.

  21. I think the crew did a very good job throughout the game, except for FJ Bobby Horton throwing a highly questionable late-game flag. Why in the world would you throw a game-deciding dead-ball flag when the instigator is at least unclear and the offence is not blatant? Clearly, I don’t blame the officials for the Bengals players getting out of control but in my opinion Horton ruined the crew’s overall performance with ths decision.

  22. The last Cincinnati penalty was caused by a Steeler linebackers coach Terry Porter running out on the field and instigating an altercation with Adam Jones. The referees chose to ignore the rule not allowing coaches on the field for non medical reasons, and it bit them in the butt. Certainly Cincinnati lost its composure and deserved to lose, but the referees once again were far too lenient and let this game get out of hand.

    Rule 13.1.2 is pretty clear:

    Either or both team attendants and their helpers may enter the field to attend their team during a team timeout by either team. No other non-player may come on the field without the Referee’s permission, unless he is an incoming substitute (5-2-2).

    During any team timeout, all playing rules continue in force. Representatives of either team are prohibited from entering the field unless they are incoming substitutes, or team attendants or trainers entering to provide for the welfare of a player, and any game-type activities are prohibited on the Field of Play.

  23. The defensive p.i. in the 3rd quarter was the correct call. The d.b. was not playing the ball and made contact. There should have been a p.f. on the 3rd quarter fumble for leading with the crown of the helmet. The two the end were justified although Porter probably should have received an u.c. for instigating Jones. Parry and crew lost control of the game which is shocking and sad. A typical AFC north game and they should have been prepared.

  24. Parry’s crew should have never had that game. They blew the officiating the last time the Bengals-Steelers game got out of control, why would you put them back in the same situation? And I agree, the Benagls and fans lost their cool because of no-calls against Pitt (Gio Bernard hit) and constant calls against the Bengals.

  25. I believe the last flag was for contacting an official on Jones, which is automatic. Preventive officiating should have kept Porter off the field and away from opposing players.

  26. Calls I didn’t agree with:

    – Bryant’s “Catch” wasn’t a catch. By the time he actually got control, he only got one foot down
    – Shazier/Bernard hit was a clear leading with the crown of the helmet hit that wasn’t called. If called, it negates the fumble and changes the game.
    – Calling the personal foul on Jones without calling the same on Porter being on the field.

    Blatant misses, any one of which Potentially changes the outcome of the game. Together, gave the game to the Steelers.

  27. On the Bryant catch…..on the field of play it’s a catch. Falling out of bounds he never had full control with 2 feet in bounds.

    Shawn Williams PF on a defenseless receiver was a bad call. Receiver took 3 steps constituting a football move and even dunked before the hit.

    Ryan Shazier on Gio Bernard…..Shazier led with the crown of his helmet. With all of the emphasis on player safety how can the officiating crew miss this call. Then they full a fumble and give the ball to Pittsburgh. Cincy should have had the ball first and goal inside the ten yard line.

    Pittsburg coach Mike Munchak should had been ejected for pulling on Reggie Nelson’s hair.

    Pittsburg coach Joey Porter had no business in the Bengals huddle let along on the field. FJ Buddy Horton blew the call and was instrumental in determining the outcome of this game.

    All on all, officiating continues to be an eyesore for the NFL. They totally lost control of this game especially with the Shazier hit. In their defense, both teams pushed the envelop all night and the league failed all year to recognize the bad blood between these two teams. Ratings are more important and that’s why this was a Saturday night game.

  28. Anytime, that you have this much chatter about officiating the morning after a game… it is bad.

    Buddy Horton should NEVER work an NFL sideline again!

    Officials should never dictate the outcome of a game!

    How is Joey Porter not flagged?

    At the end of the day… this all reflects very poorly on John Parry. With #’s 8, 107 – he had 2 very good on crew. How did Parry let it get to a point where a weak official – #82 – helped determine the outcome of the game?

  29. A number of horrible calls and they all went one way and incited the emotional responses that ended the game. There were actually two Pittsburgh helmet to helmet hits that were missed, while both Bengals hits that were called were shoulder to helmet. The touchdown catch isn’t even close to possession in bounds under the rules, though the Steelers might have gotten a TD on that possession anyway. And the lateral call that was overturned was a terrible call. Munchak should have been tossed as well.

    The league should suspend Shazier, Munchak and Porter for the rest of the playoffs.

    Any time a crew lets coaches get into it with players twice in a game, you know they aren’t up to the task.

  30. And once again, Mike Carey continues to add little to nothing to the broadcast. With only one game going on (he’s not monitoring 5 others), why did it take so long to go to him… and when they did it was practically one-word answers. He should have been in the booth with Nantz + Simms. I know CBS was trying to get a Mike P. equivalent, but he’s proven to be far from it.

  31. @ tracing- I can’t find fault with Shazier for the hit in Bernard. That’s two guys moving really fast. Just a violent play, that is part of the game. Joey Porter on the other hand… needs to be fined.

  32. Mike Carey has been WORTHLESS this season. As with several of my college econ. TA’s, just because you know the material (rules) doesn’t mean you can teach (or communicate) it effectively.

  33. Parry and company called a great game as two teams decided to thug it up during this playoff game. The only thing I fault them for was not flagging Shazier on the Bernard hit. As far as the two last penalties, they both deserved it. It was a no win situation for the crew. They called the whole game pretty tight to try to keep it under control, but both teams seemed to be more intent on headhunting than advancing to the next round. The refs didn’t determine this game. It was the Cincy players who lost control multiple times.

    Burfect and his crew running into the locker room might have deserved a delay of game or unsportsmanlike penalty too. Very classy. Almost as classy as Cincy fans cheering as Big ben was carted off the field. Karma can be a bioatch.

    One poster above mentioned Pacman getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That was not the call. It was a personal foul, meaning it was something he physically did, not just something he said. As far as complaining about Porter not being flagged? Get real. No way anyone makes that call unless he initiates contact. Clearly he didn’t. In fact, one Bengal player tried to goad him into doing something by throwing a shoulder at him.

  34. Calls I didn’t agree with:

    – Bryant’s “Catch” wasn’t a catch. By the time he actually got control, he only got one foot down
    – Shazier/Bernard hit was a clear leading with the crown of the helmet hit that wasn’t called. If called, it negates the fumble and changes the game.
    – Calling the personal foul on Jones without calling the same on Porter being on the field.

    Blatant misses, any one of which Potentially changes the outcome of the game. Together, gave the game to the Steelers.

    Amen – could not have summed it up better. Anybody who watched this game and claims the NFL officials did not decide it (through actions or inactions or through calls made or calls not made) is living in the NFL Kool-Aid Fantasy Land the NFL and the huge money making industry it is. I am not a Bengal or Steeler fan so I don’t care who won or lost this game. A year after the Detroit/Dallas fiasco where the Lions got screwed out of a playoff win, here we are again.

    Obviously the NFL wants it this way (bad officiating) or they would correct it. Which makes you wonder – why does the NFL continue to tolerate officiating crews screwing up playoff (or regular season) games and ultimately, deciding which team wins and which team loses? The only answer I can think of (for why the NFL refuses to fix this mess) is because they want it this way. Somehow, somebody in the NFL (or others who profit off the multi billion dollar NFL business) benefits from having bad officiating.

  35. Why was Pacman allowed to stay in the game? His personal foul was for contacting a game official – and I thought fouls against game officials also carried an automatic disqualification.

  36. I think this game was bad officiating, somebody has to look inside the refs actions an don’t give a game to a team that doesn’t deserves it.

  37. The referees set the precedent on a hit against a receiver/runner with an established catch on the Williams hit on Wheaton. Williams dealt a nice shoulder blow to Wheaton’s sternum and was awarded a 15-yd personal penalty for it. William’s had an opportunity to be a head hunter on that play but elected to drive his shoulder below the players helmet. Shazier on the other hand deliberately drove his helmet into the helmet of bernard. He could have hit with his shoulder or elected to hit bernard below the head. Result was no penalty. That’s what drives people crazy and why the NFL is becoming a mockery. What’s a penalty for one team is a great play for another. The announcers even defended Shazier’s hit, yet supported the penalty on Williams.

  38. The Shazier helmet-hit on Bernard is the particularly interesting one to me.
    Is this league trying to limit head injuries or not?
    This is exactly the kind of hit that needs to be removed from the game; to protect both the hitter and the hittee.
    The public, the TV commentators, etc are getting hung up on whether or not Bernard was a defenseless receiver. The predominant analysis seems to be that Bernard had turned upfield a bit and was therefore no longer defenseless.
    But this has nothing to do with it.
    The hit was CLEARLY illegal under Rule 12, Section 6.
    Whether it was also a violation of Rule 12, Section 7 (the part that covers defenseless receivers) I guess is debatable.
    The fact that the on-field officials did not see it as illegal under Rule 12 Section 6 is either gross incompetence or evidence of some kind of league instructions not to call those kinds of hits. So it’s either incompetence or something more sinister. Which is worse? There should have been a flag on the play. And, Shazier should be fined/suspended.
    The additional fact that ‘expert’ commentators thought the hit was ok because Bernard was not defenseless (Sec 7) vs the real issue (Sec 6) is just more evidence of how lame those ‘expert’ pundits are. Pathetic.

  39. @STW EXACTLY! Furthermore,what about the penalty on Williams for hitting a defenseless receiver? The receiver took 3-4 steps and ducked before getting hit by Williams’ shoulder. Using the defenseless receiver analogy this receiver took 2 more steps than Bernard and Shazier hit him head to head didn’t even draw a penalty! The NFL seems more concerned about ratings that player safety. Why in the world would the NFL make this a prime time game with the history behind these two teams and choose not to police it!

  40. I want to know, how is it that the field judge, Buddy Horton, who called the penalty on Pacman at the end of the game, is allowed to officiate in any Steelers’ game much less a playoff game, much less any NFL game, when his brother Ray Horton is a former Steelers’ linebacker coach and happened to coach Joey Porter when he was a player. Gee, talk about conflict of interest……..I think this really needs to be looked at and rules changes for officiating. This makes no sense at all……

  41. That game was a black eye for the NFL.

    The real issue was the total lack of self control exhibited by the coaches and players from both squads all throughout the game. The league needs to seriously look at the role of the head coaches in those scenarios. Maybe Marvin Lewis and Mike Tomlin are not the type of leaders the league needs. Would that have happened if the coaches were Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin? The level of thuggishness, selfishness and stupidity was through the roof. The NFL needs to take a long hard look at what happened on that field Saturday night.

    Yes, the officiating was poor at the end of the game. The biggest issue I have is the fact that officials created an easy Pittsburgh field goal with a lopsided call on a behavioral personal foul. The call on Burfict was totally legitimate. By the way, after playing such a wonderful game… 55 ruins it with a totally stupid and selfish play. But, how do you flag one team or one player at the end when both benches – players and coaches – were littered all over the field? FJ #82 probably needs to be retired. Use his lack of fitness as a reason if need be.

  42. Good point on the coaches. However Tom Coughlin may not be the best example after the Beckham incident! 😉

  43. Umm Laura…Ray Horton was drafted by and played for the Cincinnati Bengals for the majority of his career. (Including playing in their Superbowl loss to Montana) He also spent 4 years as the DB coach of the Bengals from 1997-2001. Why would spending 6 years as a Steelers DB coach trump all that for his brothers loyalty? (Horton also played for the Cowboys, and coached the Redskins, Lions, Cardinals, Browns, and is currently with the Titans.)

    On top of that, he was bumped from behind and immediately threw the flag (Contact with an official is an enormous no-no and the ONLY reason a flag was thrown. All other bumping like Gilberry on Porter, Burfict on trainer), shoving (trainer on Burfict), talking/taunting (prety much everyone on the field), etc was ignored by the officials. If Jones does not touch the officials there is likely no flag thrown. Also speaking of that flag there is a strong possibility he may not have even know which team contacted him until her turned around to see who was behind him and discussed with other officials (which is why it took so long to make the final call, had to be sure they knew who it was for sure that broke rule #1)

  44. Having watched a lot of NFL games in the NY area… I can tell you that the Beckham incident was not typical of a Coughlin coached Giants team.

    Truth is that is hard to list coaches who demand their players carry themselves as gentleman. The days of Lombardi are in the rear view mirror. The league could use more grown ups like Coughlin and less buddy types of the Rex Ryan variety. Behavior on the field is starting to get embarrassing.

  45. It’s official . . .

    NFL says Martavis Bryant touchdown should not have counted; Ryan Shazier hit was legal

    Just when the pain of last Saturday’s debacle may have begun to subside, the Bengals and their fans are once again having salt poured into their wounds.

    As if that gut-wrenching loss at the hands of Pittsburgh wasn’t bad enough, the NFL today revealed that one of the game’s biggest plays that went in favor of the Steelers should not have. During the third quarter with Pittsburgh leading 9-0 and in the red zone, Ben Roethlisberger fired a pass for Martavis Bryant in the back of the end zone that he pulled in but pinning it towards his butt.×0/filters:no_upscale()/

    NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino says in his mind the Bryant catch should not have been a catch but also said because it was initially ruled a catch, there wasn’t enough to overturn it via instant replay.

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