2018 South Side Questions: Should Penalties Be Made Reviewable?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.

How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Would you be in favor of a change to the replay rules that would allow at least select penalties to be reviewable?

One of the hot topics in Pittsburgh since Sunday has been the quality of officiating over the course of the season, and of course specifically in the Steelers’ game over the weekend. There were certainly a handful of calls or non-calls that affected the game in major ways that if were not outright wrong at least merited a closer look that they were not properly given.

The biggest play in question would surely be the defensive pass interference penalty against Joe Haden in the first half of the game. The play came on fourth down and would have given the Steelers a turnover on downs at their 34. Instead, the flag came in the end zone and gave the Saints the ball on the one-yard line, essentially making it a seven-point swing, not to mention an emotional one.

At least to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t seen any official, current or former, defend this call, and the fact that the pass was uncatchable hasn’t been discussed nearly enough. It’s likely that a penalty like this could be reversed via replay if allowed.

But should it? The league has toyed with the idea of expanding replay in ways that open it up to penalties but have always balked when it came down to actually making the change. I personally have always been in favor of the expansion of replay in general.

My preference is for the game to be officiated as accurately as possible, within reason, rather than to ease the smoothness of watching it. I think that a terrible call is a greater detraction to the enjoyment of a game than is a brief pause to get a call right, and this is a fact that I think often gets overlooked. If it takes an extra couple of minutes to fix a serious error, then I think it’s more than justified.

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