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Dean Blandino: Refs will have “heightened awareness” for Steelers-Bengals

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 04:  Referee Pete Morelli shields his eyes from the sun during the first half of the NFC Wild Card Playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

Veteran referee Pete Morelli drew the assignment for this week’s Bengals-Steelers matchup, and his boss has told him to be ready.

Via ESPN’s Adam Caplan, NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino has made a special point to Morelli and his crew to stay on top of things lest they turn ugly like previous matchups between the AFC North rivals. The last two games between the teams have resulted in more than $200,000 in fines.

“Before every game we provide the crew with a scouting report [along with video clips] for the two teams,” Blandino said. “If there is a history between two teams, or players, that could lead to issues like we had last year then we include it in the report.

“The issues that came up last year will be covered with the crew for this game. All crews are directed to set the tone early in games so the players understand where the line is, and that should be consistent for all games, but just based on the history there will be a heightened awareness for this one.”

While Morelli is a veteran, his crew has seen things get out of hand in different ways. His crew last year was broken up after mistakes in a number of games, including giving the Lions a timeout they didn’t have against the Saints, losing 18 seconds in a Steelers-Chargers game, missing what would have been a game-ending false start in Jaguars-Ravens and losing track of downs in a Cardinals-49ers game. Those mistakes cost them a Sunday Night Football assignment.

His new crew is an experienced one, with all but one member with at least 14 years of experience.

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38 Responses to “Dean Blandino: Refs will have “heightened awareness” for Steelers-Bengals”
  1. jm91rs says: Sep 15, 2016 1:47 PM

    Good. The refs need to set the tone early with personal fouls. As a bengals fan, I realize my team is going to lose control at some point if they think the steelers get away with something dirty. Id rather the refs not let anyone get away with anything at all. I think back and remember Antonio brown with 2 early personal fouls against the bengals in the regular season, one for fighting (with either pacman or Kirkpatrick). If they had ejected both right there the tone would have changed for the whole game; and the playoff game would not have had the head hunting that it did (from both sides, but mostly the bengals). Those last 2 meetings were entertaining, but not because they were good football games. They were the ugliest football I’ve seen from two good teams

  2. TRsome says: Sep 15, 2016 1:52 PM

    Only best for the Bengals – Steelers games eh?

  3. plum54 says: Sep 15, 2016 1:54 PM

    Would love to know what was included in the ” report” for the upcoming Denver / Colts Game. Maybe all the illegal hits by Denver that were not called the week before??

  4. 345snarkavenue says: Sep 15, 2016 1:54 PM

    will be interesting to see what Tomlin’s staff will get away with this time

  5. pastabelly says: Sep 15, 2016 1:54 PM

    What does that mean? That the stuff that went on in Denver was okay there but not in Pittsburgh? The NFL is consistently inconsistent.

  6. clashpoint says: Sep 15, 2016 1:59 PM

    It was definitely a bad look for both teams, but absolutely the refs let that game get out of hand. This one has the potential to one of the better games of this season, as will the rematch. While certainly there’s a tight balance between controlling the flow of the game and “let the players play,” but the officials can’t let that kind of thing happen again.

    Go Steelers!

  7. citizenstrange says: Sep 15, 2016 2:04 PM

    Blandino should have been a magician. He’s got the perfect name for it:

    The Great Blandino!

  8. thegreatgabbert says: Sep 15, 2016 2:07 PM

    Also known as “rabbit ears”.

  9. excusemewhileiwhipthisoutagain says: Sep 15, 2016 2:11 PM

    The refs were severely incompetent in the last Steelers-Bengals game. There were times when players on the sidelines went on the field (Peko, et. al) . Those should have been penalties and/or ejections.

    The issue as we saw in Denver-Carolina, is that the refs are hesitant against ejecting players when they should. That has to stop.

  10. mmack66 says: Sep 15, 2016 2:13 PM

    Burfict is out, and Shazier might be out, so it should be pretty tame.

    That is, if they can chain Joey Porter to the bench.

  11. radiosavage says: Sep 15, 2016 2:15 PM

    The refs were also on “heightened awareness” before the 2015 AFCCG…and we all know how that turned out.

  12. winged warrior says: Sep 15, 2016 2:17 PM

    don’t make us laff , these clowns will have a conference for each call , i bet this game goes over 4hrs in length.
    and they will blow half the calls to boot.

  13. chronsy says: Sep 15, 2016 2:17 PM

    “All crews are directed to set the tone early in games” How about you just use the rulebook and call the game as it happens.

    When can we get robot refs?

  14. dsh97 says: Sep 15, 2016 2:20 PM

    Won’t matter. It’s the AFC North. And the Steelers have never made friends with teams from Ohio…or teams that escaped Ohio.

  15. patsfan1820 says: Sep 15, 2016 2:27 PM

    No matter how good of refs you get these teams will always go out of their way to beat the crap out of each other. This time will be no different.

  16. jocko1181 says: Sep 15, 2016 2:27 PM

    Must be Burfict’s fault

  17. theroc5156 says: Sep 15, 2016 2:29 PM

    I just hope that the refs are consistent and fair in the Bengals-Steelers game. The first judgement call a ref will have to make will be scrutinized as that call may set the tone for the rest of the game.

    Hopefully the only things written about that game after it’s over is how the winning team won and not about how many penalties were given out and how many players ejected.

    And hopefully that winning team is the Bengals!


  18. orivar says: Sep 15, 2016 2:39 PM

    Get ready for ejections then. These teams hit each other, and they’ve been doing that for a while. That’s the AFC North (even though the Ravens aren’t even north and the divisions need to be realigned properly) for you, they hit and don’t care about the always changing rules.

  19. crewfish13 says: Sep 15, 2016 2:54 PM

    As a Bengals fan, I’d love to see both teams turn the corner on this one. It’s turned into a series of mutually-assured destruction; someone will win, but both teams’ seasons will be ruined.

    Both teams are so similar (stingy hard-hitting defense, explosive QB/WR combo) and should both be powerhouses in the AFC so long as they don’t have to carry the players off the field after each meeting.

  20. thegenoatkinsdiet says: Sep 15, 2016 2:57 PM

    As long as the refs have a “heightened awareness” of both teams, I’ve got no issue.

  21. scw1993 says: Sep 15, 2016 2:59 PM

    Heighten the “awareness” for the donkey games, not the Steelers/Bengals game.

  22. Deb says: Sep 15, 2016 3:05 PM

    As a bengals fan, I realize my team is going to lose control at some point if they think the steelers get away with something dirty.

    If they think the Steelers get away with something dirty?? Well, that’s rich, coming from a Bengals fan. At least your players walked off the field. Thanks to Burfict, who should be in jail rather than on suspension, mine had to be carried off and are fortunate they didn’t lose their careers. I’m not happy with the way my team acted in that last game either, but that comment was absurd. Having Burfict off the field, at least for now, should help tremendously.

    Let’s hope the refs do their jobs well–especially considering this crew has had its own problems in the past. No matter which team wins, I’d like to see all the players finish healthy and behaving like good sports.

  23. polksaladandy says: Sep 15, 2016 3:11 PM

    On the next episode of “Lockup : Pittsburgh…”.

  24. steelcurtainn says: Sep 15, 2016 3:14 PM

    Shouldn’t there be heightening awareness every game? This is the Steelers home opener and just another game to them while the bungles will be playing like their gunning for their first playoff win in 20 years again. In the end they wind up short. Steelers win by 2 tds.

  25. fsstnotch says: Sep 15, 2016 3:20 PM

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to call ALL games equally rather than being more stingy in some games?

  26. crownofthehelmet says: Sep 15, 2016 3:21 PM

    Just don’t blow another early whistle after Shazier jars loose a fumble and scoops it up for a sure TD.

  27. whocares69 says: Sep 15, 2016 3:22 PM

    Good hard football play, nothing more nothing less. May the best team win.

  28. hlmatty1 says: Sep 15, 2016 3:25 PM

    Love the fact that the Steelers severely injure Bengals in game after game (Dalton, Keith Rivers, Huber, Bernard, Eifert) — especially with head hunting (Mitchell) — or blatantly incite violence (Porter, Munchak), all with no punishment and the Bengals are at fault.

  29. peytonwantsaflag says: Sep 15, 2016 3:40 PM

    SO- they were told to have “heightened awareness” the last meeting as well but the Steelers still got away with a dirty hit by Shazier, a non catch ( that was reviewed mined you) called a touchdown and Joey Porter illegally being allowed on the field to stir up trouble.

  30. joetoronto says: Sep 15, 2016 3:47 PM

    Rest assured, Blind Dino is on the case.

  31. mmack66 says: Sep 15, 2016 3:47 PM

    Didn’t Roger just say that all teams are going to be treated equally?

    Oh yeah. He is a liar.

  32. thegenoatkinsdiet says: Sep 15, 2016 4:12 PM

    Could Deb kindly remind me how many Steelers have had their jaws wired shut because of playing the Bengals? Let’s not be absurdly selective. Remind your boys to see what they tackle (a common problem with the bumblebee unis), and the game has a better chance of staying under control.

  33. angeljperea says: Sep 15, 2016 5:14 PM

    THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH: Topic of this article only points out and demonstrates that regardless of any new rules that lack of consistency and poor judgement by some ref crews will continue!

  34. blowfishes says: Sep 15, 2016 5:31 PM

    What utter rubbish… game officials should have the same level of awareness regardless of who’s playing. To say that for this game they will have heightened awareness is simply stating that they don’t give their all for other games!

  35. ProFootballTalkSucks says: Sep 15, 2016 6:59 PM

    It would be a lot easier to just shoot Burfict in the head so he dies and then doesn’t try to mangle people on every play.

  36. 3wordanswers says: Sep 15, 2016 10:11 PM

    Got no horse in this race; but if Blandino is all over this game, we should all be worried.

    Its not like what happened last time out was new to last January.

    The Steelers bench had ‘previous’ in incursions onto the field by their coaches; they did nothing about the death threat from Vince Williams; and the Steelers DB’s have been head-hunters for years.

    All they just needed to do last year was to properly enforce what rules we are already in place.

    The NFL failed The Bengals and The Steelers by their officials losing control.

    Its very noticeable that whilst some teams get suspensions, The NFL bends over backwards to change the rules to accommodate The Steelers mis-deeds…….

  37. chasezdad16 says: Sep 16, 2016 8:16 AM

    Truthfully, this should’ve been the tone last year in the wild card game, but I digress. They need to walk the line between letting a always physical match up stay physical, but between the whistles. I do think there should be a automatic ejection for ANY coach related shenanigans (looking at you Porter and Munchak). Call the game correctly, but let the players determine the outcome

  38. bengalsfreedom says: Sep 16, 2016 5:46 PM

    They supposedly did the same for the playoff game last year.

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