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Old 11-22-2010, 06:01 AM   #1
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Default Steelers see lots of yellow; fear aggressive play is targeted

Steelers see lots of yellow; fear aggressive play is targeted
By Kevin Gorman
Monday, November 22, 2010

When it came to penalties, the Steelers could have been confused for their opponent Sunday.

The only thing missing was the Stickum.

But that wasn't the Oakland Raiders with 14 penalties for a team-record 163 yards. And those yellow cloths waved all around Heinz Field weren't Terrible Towels but rather penalty flags - four on personal fouls and six on holding calls, including one that negated a punt return for a touchdown.

Despite drawing more yards on penalties than Oakland had passing (121), the Steelers rolled to a relatively easy 35-3 victory over the Raiders but worried afterward that their aggressive play is being targeted by the NFL.

"It was crazy," Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace said. "I felt like (on) every play or every other play, they were calling a flag."

The game was only two minutes, 20 seconds old when outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was whistled for roughing Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell. Woodley laughed about the love-tap that sent Campbell careening, but not about the inordinate number of flying flags.

"We've been getting penalized all year - late hits, flags - but (that) was the most of all year, probably since I've been here," Woodley said. "It's embarrassing. It's something we have to cut back on if we want to continue to win football games."

Another controversial call was on Steelers free safety Ryan Clark, who was whistled for a helmet-to-helmet hit on wide receiver Jacoby Ford. Clark said he "didn't even ask" officials for an explanation.

"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," Clark said, "We have to keep playing hard and keep trying to do our jobs legally but also to the best of our abilities."

The crowd started its catcalls for the officials after Ryan Mundy's holding penalty negated Antonio Brown 67-yard punt return.

Soon, the crew's calls became comedic.

At one point, an official's microphone was audible on television and allowed viewers to overhear this conversation with Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston: "You get out of here or I'm going to throw you out." Moments later, the official told one of his crew members, "I lost my whistle. Do you have an extra?"

Whistles weren't in short supply, as Oakland defensive tackle Richard Seymour was ejected for decking Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after a touchdown pass. Outside linebacker James Harrison drew a roughing-the-passer penalty - which negated Ike Taylor's interception return for a touchdown - for throwing his "full weight of his body" on top of Campbell.

"I've never seen anything like that," Woodley said. "The good thing is we came out on top."

Kevin Gorman can be reached at kgorman@tribweb.com or 412-320-7812.
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