View Full Version : Collier: The going got nasty, and the nasty got going

11-22-2010, 06:15 AM
Collier: The going got nasty, and the nasty got going
Monday, November 22, 2010
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

Line judge Adrian Hill seperates Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and Raiders defensive back Mike Mitchell during Sunday's game at Heinz Field.

Just as a matter of taste, that was pretty much exactly what I was looking for in a Steelers-Raiders collision, a total unreconstructed brawl of a football game in which all rules and most protocols are marginalized on the altar of general mayhem.

An actual contest might have been better, but let's not quibble.

First a general description:

Undisciplined, unfocused, unrepentant, unreliable and unforgiven -- and that was just the officials.

"I'm not going to question the officiating," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, last seen 25 yards from the sideline doing exactly that. "I understand the climate that we're in from that standpoint, and I'm just not going to do it; our guys aren't going to do it. We're going to play football, and we're going to try to play it as fairly as we can, as cleanly as we can. We didn't do it very successfully today in some instances."

That the Steelers somehow put a 35-3 tattooing on the white-hot Raiders while simultaneously committing 14 penalties for a franchise record 163 yards was one of those odd creatures so ugly it was beautiful, playing like viral video about the winner of the world's ugliest dog contest.

Usually, coaches will walk into a postgame news conference and announce confidently that you're simply not going to win when you commit 14 penalties, but when the opponent commits seven of its own, including the one that gets its best defensive player ejected, all frets are off.

Decorum had already been hacked to tatters by the time Ben Roethlisberger shot a perfect 22-yard scoring strike to Emmanuel Sanders for a 21-3 lead late in the first half. Then things got nasty.

"Me and him were going at it," said Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu in reference to Oakland defensive tackle Richard Seymour. "Then Ben was saying something and I guess he took it out on Ben."

Seymour turned and popped No. 7 with a straight right, and the quarterback went down like he'd been hit by Mike Tyson. That right got in!

"I haven't seen a quarterback get punched since I've been in the league," Tomlin said. "It was unfortunate. I've got big-time respect for Richard Seymour as a football player."

I've got the same thing for him as a puncher, frankly.

"Definitely, definitely, he should be fined," Kemoeatu said. "I thought that was cheap, really cheap. I mean really uncalled for."

So Kemoeatu hit Seymour in the face, instantly drawing an offsetting penalty.

"I'm sure I'll be hearing about it," he said.

Referee Tony Corrente eventually clicked on the field mic to announce incorrectly that No. 93 (defensive tackle Tommy Kelly), in perhaps some sort of unprecedented James Bond maneuver, "has ejected himself."

That's when Tomlin bolted the sideline to correct Corrente. Seymour should have been ejected instead. Corrente agreed, and Seymour began a deliberate walk to the tunnel that ended around dusk.

In the infractions department, the Steelers were just warming up. Fifteen Steelers were penalized while they were allegedly improving to 7-3. Eighteen flags flew against the Steelers in toto, two on one play, with 14 being enforced, three short of the franchise record.

"It's tough when you play the brand of football that we play," said Steelers safety Ryan Clark, nailed for unnecessary roughness even as he was knocking himself senseless in the first quarter. "But you just have to keep working."

Cornerback Ike Taylor got whistled for interference and for holding, and had his pick-6 nullified when James Harrison collected the second of his three penalties, this for tackling Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell in a manner that apparently caused the poor fella some discomfort.

Harrison accomplished this, in Corrente's words, by falling on him "with the full weight of his body."

I wonder what's the allowable percentage of Harrison's body mass index that can be applied while he's falling on top of an opponent. Perhaps the officials are putting too fine a point on the league's new and worthy safety concerns.

Art Rooney II wouldn't comment about that Sunday, even though he'd previously issued a warning that games like Sunday's impromptu flagapalooza appeared to be inevitable. Had the United States Ambassador to Ireland been on hand, official comment would have not have been so difficult to come by. It would have been harder to avoid.

The league is in a transition period relative to enforcement on the standing rules that prohibit rough play, and inconsistencies are going to be plentiful until it reaches a new understanding.

But that doesn't excuse the seven holding penalties the Steelers drew, nor the two offside penalties, nor the illegal block, illegal formation and clipping penalties.

Clipping? They still have that?

What's next, piling on?

The Steelers endured their first 100-plus-yard penalty episode since Nov. 16, 2008 (a 115-yard atrocity they also managed to win, 11-10, against San Diego). Eighty-eight penalty yards was their previous high this season; 85 last year.

But I know this: You're not going to beat a fine club like the Buffalo Bills committing 14 penalties for 163 yards. Or certainly not by more than 35-3.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10326/1105134-66.stm#ixzz160N1Wzmh