Football is an emotional game, and sometimes, people just pop off. On Sunday, two safeties playing for different teams became quite incensed with the game officials.
With 10:21 left in the third quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 16-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Steelers safety Ryan Clark was flagged for unnecessary roughness after a helmet hit to Eagles tight end Brent Celek. After the call by referee Tony Corrente, Clark could be seen going off on back judge Greg Wilson, to no avail.
It's tough to understand Clark's willingness to argue this call -- as Celek was being brought to the ground by two other Steelers defenders, Clark clearly launched himself at Celek, and led with his helmet in doing so. There are plenty of instances in which officials call roughness penalties when they probably shouldn't, but this was a textbook example of what the NFL does not want defenders to do.
Meanwhile, Minnesota Vikings safety Harrison Smith was busy getting himself thrown out of his team's 30-7 beatdown of the Tennessee Titans. With 11:31 left in the first half, Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw a pass intended for Nate Washington that was intercepted by Antoine Winfield.
After the play, Smith got into it a bit with Washington, and back judge Steve Freeman came over and pushed Smith out of the way. Freeman kept pushing, and eventually, Smith put his hands up to let Freeman know that it was time to stop. Referee Jeff Triplette, fresh off his debaclization of the Green Bay Packers-New Orleans Saints, threw Smith out of the game.
"I (was) kind of caught up in the heat of the moment and was kind of jawing back and forth with some of the Titans players," Smith said later. "I shouldn't have even been doing that. Just go to the sideline, celebrate the player with Antoine and just kind of got caught up in it and accidently put my hands on him. I realized afterwards that right when I touched him, that's an official, and that's just stupid."
Smith can expect to get fined for that one, and he's okay with that.
"To be honest, I'm going to take whatever they give me. The officials already have a hard job. I should never have been there. I just want to play next week and just help the Vikings win."
Triplette, exhibiting a heretofore unknown mastery of the rules of football, said after the game that Freeman was just separating Smith from the "huddle," and that "he can't be shoving him aside."
Well, it wasn't a huddle -- those happen before the play. But one must take baby steps with Mr. Triplette.