The Steelers are on the outside looking in at the AFC playoff picture after losing to the Saints on Sunday afternoon.
New Orleans rallied for the winning score in the fourth quarter with the help of a pass interference call on Steelers cornerback Joe Haden on a fourth down incompletion with two minutes left in the game. They’d score a few plays later and it was the second time that Haden was flagged for a questionable fourth down pass interference penalty in the game.
The other came on a pass to running back Alvin Kamara in the first half and those two calls loomed large in a 31-28 Saints win.
“It is what it is, man. It’s an offensive game. You can’t touch these guys,” Haden said, via ESPN.com. “At the same time, with the pushoff, they didn’t say anything about Michael [Thomas] pushing me off in the end zone for the last play. It’s just tough being a defensive back, but we gotta [play] — that’s what we do. It just sucks sometimes when those games, those plays are just so big and they’re weighed differently. And it can just make or break momentum and everything. So it’s very, very unfortunate and it sucks. I’m pissed. But next time I’ll try to make sure I can make those plays without getting the call.”
Haden wasn’t the only player or coach taking issue with late penalty calls in Sunday’s games and a “prominent NFL club official” told Peter King for Football Morning in America that there’s concern about “the volume of penalties that breaks up the game.”
“Everyone is at a loss,” the official said. “There is no consistency. The game is choppy. It’s obvious that something is broke. Teams, coaches, GMs are at a loss for what will be emphasized week to week. At the same time, officials feel like they have been betrayed by the league and no one has their back. I’ve been around this league for over 25 years. This is as bad as I have seen it.”
Haden and the Steelers would probably agree with that last sentiment.