RUSH: Here’s Al in Mapleton, Utah. It’s great to have you, Al. How are you doing, sir?
CALLER: Oh, I’m doing great. Thanks. Merry Christmas, Rush.
RUSH: Same to you, sir.
CALLER: Hey, so last night it drove me nuts. Haden basically blew in this guy’s ear and they call it pass interference, and they did it all night. They were doing make-up calls, kept calling these little baby penalties. I couldn’t stand it.
RUSH: Yeah. He’s talking about the Steelers and the New Orleans Saints game last night. It’s frustrating. I did decide to watch it. I caved. I’m gonna tell you something here, Al. Be honest with you. I thought the Saints were gonna blow ’em out so I was stunned the game was this close, stunned the Steelers had a chance to win it, excited that they did.
But I thought the Saints defense would have paid attention to what the Chargers did — the Saints offense paid attention to what the Chargers did and just carve ’em up. The defense played very well except for the second quarter. Referee calls — he’s talking about a pass interference call that could have ended a Saints drive, pass interference in the end zone against Joe Haden, and he literally had — it was no pass interference.
It was one of the most obviously bogus calls in the history of football. But it’s part of the game. You know, you can’t — it’s part of the game. And every team has to be able to mentally and physically overcome. If that starts to tell you you’re defeated then you’re gonna lose the game anyway. That’s not why they lost. The referees are not why. The NFL’s got a referee problem, I agree. But that’s not why they lost. I’ll tell you why they lost in my humble opinion when we get back.
RUSH: Our caller wanted to know what I thought of the Steelers game. Look, I don’t want to be misunderstood and appear to be glossing over the officiating. It was horrible! That first pass interference call against Joe Haden on a… I think it was fourth down play, third down play long, and it would have forced the saints to either punt or take a field goal, I don’t remember which. It turned into a touchdown, and Haden didn’t even touch the guy.
The official was standing behind it, must have looked like he’d pushed off, but it was just a horrible call. I don’t want anybody to think that I’m giving it short shrift. On the last touchdown that the Saints scored, which was not ruled a touchdown, the receiver was coming back to the ball through the end zone, but he caught the ball right on the goal line so it crossed the plane. Replay showed it to be a touchdown.
What they didn’t show you is that offensive receiver pushed off on Haden!
There was offensive pass interference on that play, legitimate, and it was huge! But no camera angle caught it! That’s how big the pushoff was! The Ain’ts receiver pushed this guy so far off, he went out of camera view! But that’s not why they lost the game. Because those things happen to every team in every game. Whether they balance out or not over the course of a season or a few games? They do, however you care to judge it. But I’ll tell, there was one call in this game… By the way, I have to tell you something.
I think Tony Romo is without question the best new game analyst that has appeared on network TV since Cris Collinsworth. Troy Aikman’s in there awhile with Joe Buck. But this guy Romo knows when to shut up. He uses his knowledge as a player to actually tell viewers what to expect based on what he sees. He doesn’t simply tell you what you just saw and then condemn it or approve it. He actually is into the game like a fan.
(impression) He does not have a professional broadcaster’s voice. He doesn’t sound like a Ron Radio talking at you. He’s just a real guy in just his second year. He works with Jim Nantz. Jim Nantz is like Al Michaels. Whoever works with them automatically seems better. Al Michael and Jim Nantz make everybody working with them better. But Romo is great. On the play I’m talking about, he called it. He said, “This play… Nobody’s gonna think it. This play is where the game’s lost if this doesn’t work.” It was a third and two, and I think there were… I may have the game situation wrong.
There were four minutes, four minutes or six minutes left, third and two. Steelers had the ball on their 40 or 42 yard line, and they lined up telegraphing that they’re gonna run the ball off tackle. They’re gonna run a plunge play here, which allowed the Saints to bunch the box. There was no way this kid, Stevan Ridley, the running back, was gonna gain two yards. There was no way. Third and two? They had been marching all day on the Saints defense. The coach said they’re in fourth down territory anyway at that point in the game.
They had a four-point lead, they’re trying to do two things, run the clock, maybe back kick a field goal or get another score. There was back that ball and he’s stuffed and then fumbled! It was bad. Then situation that was not the best. It was fourth and five and they called a fake punt, and they were short by a yard. Similar game situation. (sigh) I don’t know. I think the Steelers start trying to eat up the clock too soon. They had a four-point lead, and they start running the ball right out of the locker room in the second half instead of continuing to pour on the juice.
They needed every point they could get because the defense has been porous. You’ve got a Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees on the other side who can carve you up. But they’d held him pretty well. He had only had one touchdown pass until the last one of the game. It was frustrating ’cause the game could have been won, and the Steelers had three or four of these this season that tipped away. But here’s the thing, folks.
Every team that played yesterday that got close to a playoff spot or secured one has won four of their last five or three of their last four or six of their last eight. The Steelers have lost four of their last five. They’re not trending in the right direction. Now, for the Steelers, the Cleveland Browns have to beat the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday, and the Steelers have to beat the Bengals. Both of which can happen, I think. I think the Browns can beat the Ravens, but we’ll see. It was frustrating, ’cause if those two things don’t happen then the Steelers are gone.
They’re such a great team for the league and ratings, TV ratings and so forth.