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Riveron: 12 of 14 roughing-the-passer calls correct through Sunday

SVP/officiating Al Riveron says that 12 of the 14 roughing the passer fouls on Sunday were correct.



Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron says that 12 of the 14 roughing the passer fouls on Sunday were correct. The 14 roughing the passer calls are double compared to Week 1 last season. Riveron’s remarks were in an interview with NFL Media reporter Tom Pelissero.

Riveron says referee Shawn Smith incorrectly called roughing the passer on Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.

A third-down stop by the Browns and a potential Steelers field goal turned into a second-quarter Steelers touchdown one play later. The game ended in a 21-21 tie.

The NFL has a point of emphasis this year to crack down on defenders hitting the quarterback legally, but then landing on the passer with all their weight. This rule has been on the books for years, but the Competition Committee wants the rule called tightly. But, it got called too tightly on Sunday. 

On another note, the much talked-about lowering the helmet rule only got called once through Sunday’s games.

Officials are graded on every play on the calls they make or don’t make, and if they use proper mechanics. At the end of the season, Riveron’s office tallies the grades and those grades determine playoff assignments. But, don’t expect Smith to be downgraded on this call. The NFL wants the officials to err on the side of safety and throwing roughing the passer calls, even if it means a phantom flag. That means, unless it’s an egregious miscall, covering officials are not going to be “dinged” in these cases.

The public admission of a miscall is rare. However, Riveron wants coaches and players to clearly know what is and isn’t a foul, thus the public discussion of the Garrett call, albeit to an NFL in-house writer.

This is not a comfort to Browns fans, but it is the reality of NFL officiating as we navigate new safety rules.

Image: Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"