The Costly Impact of Raging Against the Referees

The aftermath of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 20-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday was marked by frustration and bitterness. Wide receiver Diontae Johnson, in particular, expressed strong dissatisfaction with the officiating crew, believing that their calls ultimately cost his team the game. One of the pivotal moments that elicited Johnson’s ire was an offside call on right guard Isaac Seumalo, which nullified a 55-yard field goal by Chris Boswell. Johnson lamented the missed opportunity, claiming that the referees were biased and intentional in their decisions. This critical account of the officiating from Johnson reflects the Steelers’ collective sentiment of discontent.

An additional point of frustration for Johnson was the inconsistency of roughing the passer calls throughout the game. He specifically referenced a non-call when Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett was knocked down by defensive end Adam Gotsis. Johnson went as far as expressing anger and suggesting that the officials should face fines for their “stupid” and “terrible” calls, asserting that they directly impacted the outcome of the game. His comments convey the deep sense of disappointment and perceived injustice that the Steelers felt.

Johnson further implied that the officials displayed favoritism towards the Jaguars, insinuating that they intentionally made calls in their favor. He highlighted the disparity in the number of penalties called against each team, suggesting that the Jaguars received favorable treatment. Johnson’s accusation of bias represents the belief held by the Steelers that external factors, namely the officiating crew, hindered their chances of victory.

Referee Alan Eck provided an explanation for the offside call on Seumalo, citing the clear violation of the offensive offside rule. Although Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did not overtly criticize the officials, he emphasized the rarity of such a call after witnessing it for the first time in his 17-year career. The NFL senior vice president of officiating, Walt Anderson, defended the officials’ judgment, stressing that the call was made within their discretion. The official response underscored that the call, though unusual, was valid according to the rules and regulations.

The Crowd’s Disapproval and Impact on the Game

Prior to the field goal attempt, the officiating crew faced a series of contentious calls that further intensified the dissatisfaction among the Steelers and their fans. The crowd voiced their discontent through boos and even a “ref you suck” chant. This combination of frustration and fervor from the crowd created an atmosphere of tension and added pressure to the game. Both the Steelers and the Jaguars received penalties throughout the game, but the timing and impact of the penalties on the Steelers heightened their frustration.

While Diontae Johnson vehemently criticized the officials, his teammate Patrick Peterson maintained a more measured viewpoint. Peterson acknowledged that the players could only control what was within their power and encouraged focusing on overcoming adversities rather than fixating on the officiating. This alternative perspective suggests that attitudes towards the officiating varied within the Steelers’ locker room.

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who stepped in for Kenny Pickett during the game, downplayed the significance of the officiating, emphasizing the importance of executing plays and maintaining communication among the team. Trubisky’s perspective reflects a more resilient and proactive approach, focusing on improving their performance rather than dwelling on external factors.

The Steelers’ frustration with the officiating after their loss to the Jaguars was evident through Diontae Johnson’s scathing criticism. Johnson’s comments, along with the reactions from coaches, officials, and other players on the team, highlighted the impact that perceived unfair officiating can have on players’ mentality and the overall atmosphere of the game. While the grievances may be valid in some instances, it is essential for teams to maintain composure and focus on their own performance rather than external factors. Ultimately, their ability to adapt and overcome challenges will determine their success on the field.


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