NFL 2021: Chicago Bears vs Pittsburgh Steelers, Cassius Marsh, referee ‘hip-check’, reaction


American football fans have been left fuming after a crazy run of play that was decided by a referee’s rogue “hip-check” on a player.

NFL fans have been left livid after a crucial call late in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 29-27 win over the Chicago Bears.

Officiating has been the talk of the NFL this season as penalties for “taunting” are called far more often. But football fans have savaged the conduct of a referee who called a penalty late in the close clash on Tuesday (AEST).

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With slightly over three minutes remaining in the game, the Steelers led 23-20 when Chicago defensive end Cassius Marsh was flagged after he pulled off a sack. He took a few steps toward the sideline as the Steelers punting team ran on but referee Tony Corrente threw the flag and gave a 15-yard penalty, restarting the down count.

Commentators were baffled as to what the taunting call was about, since Marsh didn’t appear to say anything to the Steelers bench. Soon it was being speculated whether Corrente had purposely bumped into Marsh just before throwing the flag.

It allowed the Steelers to kick a field goal to go to 26-20, before Justin Fields took the Bears on a touchdown drive with just under two minutes remaining.

The Steelers kicked another field goal before Bears kicker Cairo Santos took a 65-yard field goal attempt that fell well short, giving Pittsburgh the win.

It was a brutal way to lose the game but all anyone wanted to talk about was the officiating and Corrente’s taunting call.

“I think that one was just bad timing,” Marsh said. “It’s pretty clear to everybody who saw it that I wasn’t taunting. I’ve been doing the celebration my whole career. It’s just sad to see stuff like that happen in a close game like that.

“The one thing that I will say is that on my way to the sideline, I got hip checked by the ref, it was pretty clear. If I was to do that to a ref, or even touch a ref, we’d get kicked out of the game, possibly suspended or fined.

“I just think that was incredibly inappropriate.”

Corrente said the contact “had nothing to do with the flag” and instead he was only concerned with Marsh’s “taunting”, but nobody on social media agreed — the majority suggesting the referee stuck his backside into the player to initiate contact.

Steelers kicker Chris Boswell booted a 40-yard field goal with 26 seconds left as Pittsburgh extended their winning streak to four games.

Veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger combined with receiver Pat Freiermuth for two earlier touchdowns, setting the stage for Boswell’s game-winning kick in front of a crowd of 68,400 at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field.

“It was a strange game, but it is fun,” said Roethlisberger, who completed 21 of 30 passes without an interception.

“I wish it wasn’t so close. We made it a little stressful but I am proud of the guys.”

Bears quarterback Justin Fields had the best offensive game of his first NFL season, passing for 291 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

With AFP

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