After Jacksonville’s 31-29 Wild-Card Playoff victory over Pittsburgh, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the league will be investigating the officiating from the game, amidst speculation that the referees did not do enough to help the Steelers win.
Some Steelers seemed upset after Saturday’s loss, and pointed to the officiating as a culprit. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“Linebacker Larry Foote intimated that a huge hole in the Steelers’ defense that quarterback David Garrard ran through for 32 yards on fourth down to set up Jacksonville’s winning field goal came about for reasons other than good blocking.Foote complained to officials on the field and it was the only topic he broached briefly in the locker room before leaving.
‘You’ll see a big old hole open up, and you’ll see the reason why. That’s all I’ve got to say. Thank you.’
Steelers linebackers were upset by what they felt were non-calls, particularly holding by the Jaguars.‘I’m the wrong person to interview,’ Clark Haggans said.
‘You might want to interview the referees. Plain and simple, that’s it. I don’t have anything else to say besides that.”
Referee Tony Corrente expressed regret over the outcome of the game. “We really did do everything we could to try to help them win. Especially on that last 4th down play for Jacksonville, the pivotal play – Carl was supposed to toss the flag for holding if they picked up the first down, but he couldn’t find his flag. We all waited for him to throw it, but he just choked. I really hope the league shows him some mercy on this one, he has kids to feed.”
“The NFL has a long history of favoring the Pittsburgh Steelers, and doing all that we can to help them win. Ever since the 1970’s it has been our tradition. My predecessor Paul Tagliabue carried the torch before passing it to me, and I plan on upholding the status quo. There will be a full investigation.” said Goodell.
It was clear throughout that the referees were doing their job well, helping Pittsburgh as much as they could up until that critical 4th down conversion in the final minutes.
Said Umpire Carl Paganelli, “I’m really disappointed in myself for not coming through for the Steelers on that play. However, I really think I deserve some leniency. I mean, look at that pass interference call I made on Jacksonville in the 4th quarter. Hines Ward practically dragged the defender through the end zone by his facemask, but I did my job and threw the flag on Jacksonville.”
“I stand by the work of my crew,” said Corrente. “We did everything we could to help the Steelers win, but in the end, not even we could overcome the play of that big dumb quarterback of theirs. I mean did you see those interceptions he was throwing? That guy is terrible. This one is on them.”