LAS VEGAS — Steelers star free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick got charged with a questionable roughing the passer penalty that led directly to a touchdown for the Raiders. Fitzpatrick came on a free blitz on the play and hit Garoppolo up high. On the play, it appeared that Fitzpatrick may have hit him shoulder to shoulder more than on the head. However, the referees still called the penalty on Fitzpatrick.
— Bad Sports Refs (@BadSportsRefs) September 25, 2023
The call gave the Raiders a first down. Davante Adams would catch a touchdown, and later on, the Raiders would convert the two-point conversion to make the game a one-score game. All of that has come together to make for an intriguing and close game. The Raiders since then, have put up another field goal, too.
Rules analyst Terry McAulay disagreed with the call, saying there was no forcible contact to the head or neck area of Garoppolo that would give the refs the discretion to call the penalty. According to NFL Ref Stats on X, Tra Blake’s crew leads the NFL in roughing-the-passer penalties this year. So, the call is notable coming from this crew, as it appears to be a common pattern with this crew.
@SNFonNBC referee Tra Blake on #PITvsLV LED #NFL in roughing the passer penalties in 2022 and are #1 in the #NFL for DEFENSIVE pass interference penalties per game in 2023. Seeing lot of both tonight . #HereWeGo #RaiderNation #NFLTwitter
— nflrefstats (@nflrefstats1) September 25, 2023
The roughing-the-passer calls have been heavily scrutinized around the NFL this year already. This one coming on Sunday football at the expense of Minkah Fitzpatrick only brings those calls to a higher light in the national media. Pittsburgh, as the time is drawing down, hopes to close the door. But they will not look back on the call on the field and, like on the tape, whether they agree with it.
A special teams penalty and pass interference on the two-point conversion did not help the Steelers as the Raiders tried to make some magic and come back. But it all started with one call, and that will be circled.