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11-22-2010, 06:10 AM
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Steelers shrug off questionable calls
November 21st, 2010

Taking the lead of coach Mike Tomlin, the Steelers showed considerably more restraint after their 35-3 win over the Raiders than Oakland’s Richard Seymour did during Sunday's game at Heinz Field.

The Steelers, who set a team record for penalty yards (163), did not roundly lash out at the officiating even though there were at least three calls against them that were questionable.

And that is being generous to an officiating crew that, in its defense, is simply following a directive by the NFL to err on the side of player safety when assessing penalties.

Those calls were:

-- A roughing the passer penalty on outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley during Oakland’s only scoring drive of the game.

Woodley appeared to pull back after Jason Campbell threw a pass and only gave the Raiders quarterback a light shove.

-- A personal foul penalty on free safety Ryan Clark for a helmet to helmet hit.

Clark hit Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford in the back after a 16-yard catch and did not go for his head.

-- A roughing the passer penalty on outside linebacker James Harrison, which negated a 16-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Ike Taylor.

Harrison did anything but drive Campbell into the ground, raising more questions as to whether the three-time Pro Bowler has become a target amidst the NFL’s crackdown on dangerous hits and its emphasis on player safety.

Clark, for one, said he never sought an explanation as to why he got penalized for his hit on Ford.

“I tried to lead with my shoulder, I thought I hit him in the back,” Clark said. “But right now it’s a game where the referees have to kind of be on edge and kind of make the call first and review it later and I understand that. But we have to keep playing hard and keep trying to do our jobs legally but also to the best of our abilities.”

Harrison said there was nothing illegal about his hit on Campbell.

“That was a good, clean hit. I hit, wrapped and when I went to the ground, I put my arms out to stop myself so I wouldn’t land with my full force on him," Harrison said. "What else do you want me to do? He laid there on the ground and after two or three seconds I guess the ref looked at him and decided, ‘It’s got to be a penalty.’ ”

When asked if he thinks the Steelers are getting singled out since the league has made more of an effort to rid dangerous hits from the game, Harrison said, “I don’t know. You look at some of the things that happen on the field, their defensive guys hitting our offensive guys and no penalty getting called. I believe if that were to happen the other way and that was our defense doing that I think there would have been a lot more penalties called, they would have kicked five or six of us out of the game.”

Harrison has been fined $100,000 this season for three separate plays.

Woodley got docked $12,500 by the NFL last week for a roughing the passer penalty on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

He expects to find another fine notification from the NFL in his locker this week.

“Every week it’s somebody new,” Woodley said. “Last week it was me. This week it was me.”

Harrison, who contemplated retiring after getting fined $75,000 for a helmet to helmet hit that left Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi with a concussion, said he won't change his style of play.

“I’m just going to play the game the way I’ve been taught to play it and let the cards fall where they may,” he said.

That, said Tomlin, is the right approach to take.

"I'm not going to question the officiating," Tomlin said. "We're going to play football and we're going to play it as fairly as we can and as cleanly as we can. And that's what we did (against the Raiders)."
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