BALTIMORE — Complaining about the officiating is pretty much part and parcel of being a sports fan, but Steelers faithful should think about thanking the folks in black and white stripes for the way their team’s Week 8 win over the Baltimore Ravens ended.
With the Ravens driving with under a minute to play, Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson completed a long pass to wide receiver Willie Snead, taking the ball all the way to the Pittsburgh 23-yard line.
Snead was tackled with 18 seconds left on the clock at M&T Bank Stadium, but with the Ravens out of timeouts, it continued to tick. Jackson ushered his players down field to try to spike the ball and the Steelers hurried to get onside, but one player remained behind.
Defensive lineman Cam Heyward stayed down on the field after rushing Jackson. It was the second time late in the game that Heyward needed medical attention and he eventually needed helped off the field. He suffered a minor quad injury on the play.
The problem for the Ravens is that 10 seconds ran off the clock between the time that Snead was tackled and the time that the game officials noticed that Heyward wasn’t getting up and blew the whistle.
NBC rules analyst and former NFL official Terry McAulay said the referees should have put eight to 10 seconds back on the clock, but instead the Ravens snapped the ball for the next play with just eight seconds left on the clock.
As Gene stated on the air, time should have been added to the clock after the injury. It was the Referee who erred by not immediately recognizing a player was injured 38 yards behind the play. And it certainly did not happen at :08 when the game was stopped. https://t.co/JjELZholvf
— Terry McAulay (@SNFRules) November 1, 2020
The game ended with the Ravens running out of time at the Steelers’ 23-yard line on a second down. That 10 seconds could have given them two more shots at the end zone.
The missed time wasn’t the only controversial call made in the game by the officiating crew. Ravens linebacker Matthew Judos was ejected after making contact with an official during a scrum earlier in the game, always a touchy judgement call.
Heyward had been flagged for a late hit on Jackson in the first quarter while it looked like Jackson was still in bounds, extending a drive that ended in a Baltimore touchdown.
But while both of those plays were judgement calls, the clock management at the end of the game was clearly and error in the Steelers’ favor.
Alex Highsmith Needs MRI after Ankle Injury Suffered vs. Browns
PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith suffered an ankle injury that will require an MRI in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Highsmith left the game in the first half and was seen limping on the Pittsburgh sideline. He made an attempt to return to the game, but was unable to continue playing and did not see the field at all in the second half.
In-game, the Steelers announced that Highsmith was doubtful to return with an ankle injury. After the fact, head coach Mike Tomlin said that Highsmith suffered a high ankle sprain. Highsmith’s father posted on Twitter early on Monday morning that Highsmith will require an MRI on his injured ankle.
Not the way we wanted the season to end but I am thankful to have been a part of this amazing ride! The Highsmith Family is proud to wear the Black & Gold and we look forward to more success in the future! Please pray for Alex as he gets an MRI tomorrow on his ankle! #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/JJA4PpZpvx
— Sam Highsmith (@SHighsmithClan) January 11, 2021
Given that Highsmith was able to walk and even run in short bursts after the injury, it does not seem likely that it will impact his offseason training plans.
The team’s third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith was thrust into a starting role after starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered an ACL injury that required surgery.
On the season, Highsmith played in 16 regular season game and made five starts. He finished with 48 tackles, five for a loss, six quarterback hits, one interception and one pass defended.
With Dupree set to become an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return, Highsmith should be expected to retain his starting role in 2021.
Mike Tomlin Doesn’t Regret Punt, Will Talk to Ben Roethlisberger About Future
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin answers questions from the media following his team’s shocking defeat at the hands of the Browns in the playoffs. Tomlin explained why he decided to punt on a 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter while trailing by multiple scores. He also touched on the timeline for when he will talk to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger about his future with the team.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Says He Doesn’t Regret ‘Browns Is the Browns’ Comment
PITTSBURGH — It was repeated so often in the five days between when JuJu Smith-Schuster said the phrase on Wednesday to Sunday night’s game at Heinz Field, that it nearly became the No. 1 talking point coming into the game.
“The Browns is the Browns.” Before the game, after the game and probably during the game, many of the Browns made it clear that they had taken exception to Smith-Schuster’s characterization of the team.
The Browns IS THE BROWNS!! 🌚
— Jedrick Wills Jr.®️++💕 (@JWills73) January 11, 2021
Smith-Schuster said after the game that he had no regrets about what he said.
“You know, I don’t regret what I said,” Smith-Schuster said. “I said, ‘The Browns is the Browns.’ They came out and they played a hell of a game. You know, there’s been games where we feel we lose them and today wasn’t our night and hopefully the same Browns will show up next week against the same opponent and go out and do the same thing they did tonight and have a hell of a game.”