I usually save my disclaimer for the end of the article if I even have one in the first place. But here’s four for you…
DISCLAIMER #1: If there is ever a scenario in which one blames a referee for the outcome of a game, it’s almost definite that there were things that the team could’ve done differently on the field to avoid the bad calls.
DISCLAIMER #2: Here’s another thing- I do not like either team that played. I don’t like the Steelers. And I don’t like the Bengals. I have zero bias towards anyone.
DISCLAIMER #3: These thoughts may get a little sloppy because I’m working on a tight time schedule… aka, it’s late and I’m exhausted. Irregardless to the fact, please follow along.
DISCLAIMER #4: I’m thoroughly aware that ‘irregardless’ isn’t a word
Last night, these disclaimers involved the Cincinnati Bengals.
Allow me to paint a picture. It looked like the drought was finally over. After marching down the field and finishing with an AJ McCarron-to-AJ Green connection for a touchdown, the Bengals took the lead against Pittsburgh with about two minutes left on the clock.
Sure, they missed the two point conversion on an awful throw from McCarron, but it didn’t matter. They. Were. Up. Plus, think about it! Ben Roethlisberger was out with an injury, and he wasn’t going to come back. BOOM, a Landry Jones pass was intercepted by Vontaze Burfict in spectacular fashion.
Then, it all crumbled down.
Cincinnati just had to run out the clock. That’s it. But a Jeremy Hill fumble had something to say about Cincinnati’s seemingly-booked trip to New England next week. The Bengals D had spotty play, but looked like they’d keep the field goal try to be over 50 yards. Keep in mind though- this is Cincinnati football, and heartbreak always ensues.
Burfict targeted Antonio Brown. Badly. And I mean shoulder-to-head badly. It was a stupid penalty to take on a pass that would otherwise be incomplete. There was no reason to be involved in that play. It was over. Done. Incomplete.
Off to the side, Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones was talking to either an official or Brown himself, and another flag is thrown. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 30 yards of penalties in 30 seconds. That’s stupid.
Here are my thoughts. Burfict is a scumbag for targeting Brown. I get the game was chippy, and I get that animosity doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings that these two teams have for one another. It was a good call by the officials, especially considering I think they missed calls in some parts of the game and threw the flag too easily in other parts. That’s not to mention that he couldn’t even walk away at any point of the game. Every time there was a scrum, whether he was actually on the field or not, he was involved. If I was running things, Burfict sits for 4 games next season. That’s inexcusable, especially for a player who already has a history for targeting Steelers’ guys.
But the flag on Jones? That was wrong. Quite frankly, I don’t know what he said or who he said it to as I write this (at 12:16 AM on Sunday morning). I don’t care what he said. It could’ve been the worst thing in the world to Brown or the ref. I don’t care. At that point in the game, you can’t throw a flag for words. You. Just. Can’t. The amount of physical play that was allowed and the chippiness of the game is one thing. However, nothing he said could’ve justified handing Pittsburgh three points on the scoreboard. The referee throwing that flag should be ashamed of himself for letting a petty thing be the straw to break the camel’s back.
Ultimately both teams played dirty. I don’t think either fanbase will admit it in the majority, but both teams are guilty of that. If the Bengals make plays, like not fumbling the ball when it’s literally their only job, they win. The refereeing didn’t help out at any point though. They had absolutely no control over this game. They had players and even coaches talking trash and swinging fists. And despite all that, it was words that pushed the Steelers into an easy field goal. I mean, “what ever heard to sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”?
On a side note, I think Marvin Lewis should be fired. This playoff loss wasn’t necessarily his fault, when you look at its surface. Think about it hard enough, however, and it was. He couldn’t control his team, he couldn’t get them to stop playing like a bunch of thugs, and it bit them in the ass. That’s a fact. After being 0-7 in his career in the playoffs, I think that should be all she wrote for Coach Lewis in Cincinnati. But I thought that last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. Some things never change.
In summary-don’t pretend either team is a group of choir boys, because both are far from that. The officials sucked, the NFL needs to reevaluate them and teach them how to get control of a game, and they ultimately put Pittsburgh in a better change to win. Despite that, it isn’t all their faults. And Marvin Lewis should be the next head coach to be fired.
I guess the long and the short of what I’m trying to say is that all parties- the Steelers, the Bengals and the NFL, should be completely and utterly embarrassed for what happened tonight.
Cover photo courtesy of uproxx.com.
All GIFs credit to SB Nation.