The NFL will never publicly acknowledge that its officiating teams have made mistakes. However, when those mistakes are glaring, as was the taunting call against Cassius Marsh on Monday, NFL officials will admit that their refereeing crews may have made a mistake, even if they make that admission privately.
Three Controversial Calls that Cost Bears the Win
The controversial call against the Bears linebacker was one of three referee decisions that have angered the Bears and their fans. The other two were a low block penalty that robbed Justin Fields of a touchdown pass, and a late hit on the Bears quarterback. There were also several other penalties from the Steelers that went unnoticed by referee Tony Corrente and his crew.
As always, the NFL decided not to publicly comment on the referees’ performance in the Steelers-Bears game. The Chicago-based franchise didn’t say anything about the incidents either.
However, the league has some tools to ‘discipline’ officials who had a bad day at the office. One is to downgrade them, and that will affect the type of postseason assignments officials will get.
Perry Fewell, NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, said that the taunting call Corrente made against Marsh was correct. Subsequently, the Bears linebacker was fined $5,972 for his unsportsmanlike conduct.
However, Bears fans couldn’t let that call go, which is understandable, as it robbed them of a third-down stop in a period when the game was being decided. It also reignited the NFL debate about what is a foul in a situation like that.
Nullifying a Touchdown that Could Have Turned the Game Around
The Marsh call was controversial, but the low-block flag on James Daniels who barely made any contact with the opposition defender was the moment that probably decided the game.
That decision nullified a one-yard Bears touchdown in the second half and impacted the final outcome of the game significantly.
Fields Accused Ref of Double Standards
The Bears had to deal with another problematic call two plays later. Fields was knocked down by Alex Highsmith, the Steelers linebacker, but no call was made. So, Fields and his teammates had to settle for a field goal.
After the game, Justin Fields said that he approached Corrente to tell him that “Big Ben just got that call.” The Bears quarterback was of course talking about the roughing call against teammate Mario Edwards, and that the Bears should have benefited from a similar decision before that.
So, instead of the Bears and Fields making a statement and winning away in Pittsburgh, they now have to settle for a 3-6 record that leaves them with some more work to do to get to the seventh spot in NFC they were targeting. The problem is that it wasn’t just their performance that cost them the win in Pittsburgh.