Brad Allen's crew received Steelers-Ravens assignment more than 10 weeks ago

Earlier this week, Adam Schefter of reported that referee Brad Allen and his crew have been assigned to work Saturday's Steelers-Ravens game.

"So back on national television," Schefter said.

The wording and context created the impression that the NFL hand-picked Allen's crew for a game to be played in a standalone window. That's absolutely not the case.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the assignment was made in Week 6 or Week 7. At the time, Steelers-Ravens in Week 18 could have been meaningless to both teams, meaningless to one team, meaningful to both teams. It could have been selected for any of the five windows, including the prime-time spot on NBC.

In theory, the game could have shaped the AFC playoff field, with the winner capturing the No. 1 seed and the loser plunging to a wild-card position.

It doesn't matter. Regular-season games aren't treated like playoff games. Assignments aren't made based on performance. If an officiating crew is good enough to remain employed, the crew is good enough to work any regular-season game.

Has Allen's crew come under fire this year for various missed calls in big spots? Yes. Do the Lions and Lions fans continue to blame Allen for Detroit's effort to play an eligible-receiver shell game with the Cowboys that was so good it fooled Allen, too? Absolutely.

None of that matters. Allen and his crew got the assignment weeks ago. While the league (and, frankly, the members of the crew) might have preferred Allen and his other officials to be tucked into one of the Sunday afternoon windows, that's not how it works.