Did refs screw Steelers out of playoff race with awful Cam Heyward penalty?

Cam Heyward #97 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Cam Heyward #97 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The refs for the Steelers and Ravens stirred up controversy when they hit Cam Heyward with a costly and questionable unnecessary roughness penalty.

The last thing football fans want is for a game to be decided by a dumb penalty.

It’s possible Sunday Night Football between the Steelers and Ravens could fall into that category of controversy.

With seconds left before halftime, Pittsburgh got a third-down stop that would have forced Baltimore to settle for a field goal. However, there was some pushing and shoving on the post-tackle pile that resulted in an unnecessary roughness penalty against Cam Heyward.

Immediately, fans questioned the call. It looked relatively harmless. At most, there could have been offsetting penalties since Heyward had been grabbed by Baltimore players in the pile in the first place. Instead, only one side got a major punishment for something minor.

The Ravens got a first down as a result and promptly scored a touchdown on a pass from Tyler Huntley to Isaiah Likely.

In essence, Baltimore got four extra points because of the penalty. By the fourth quarter, the four-point margin between the teams was notable.

Questionable Cam Heyward penalty could cost Steelers the playoffs

The Steelers have been clinging to hopes of making the playoffs, winning five of their last seven since starting the season 2-6. The game against the Ravens was a must-win. A loss would eliminate Pittsburgh.

Bad calls happen all the time in the NFL. In the end, teams are responsible for controlling what they can control. If they lose because of a bad call, then they didn’t do enough elsewhere to make sure the call would be impactful.

Still, it’s always a shame to see the referees so clearly involved in a potential outcome. This one could be costly.

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