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

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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.

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

  1. 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. 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??

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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.

  8. “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?

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

  10. 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!


  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

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

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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…….

  24. 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

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