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Art Rooney II wants more consistency in protecting quarterbacks |

Art Rooney II wants more consistency in protecting quarterbacks

Joe Rutter
| Wednesday, January 23, 2019 5:05 p.m
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

On the heels of a controversial call in the AFC championship game, Art Rooney II said it’s time for the NFL to re-examine the standards of roughing-the-passer penalties.

The Pittsburgh Steelers president said Wednesday that NFL officials need to be “very consistent” in calling penalties on hits against quarterbacks.

Rooney addressed the issue on a conference call with fans Wednesday, three days after the New England Patriots benefited from a roughing-the-passer call that gave them a first down on an eventual touchdown drive. A flag was thrown after Kansas City Chiefs player Chris Jones hit Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on his shoulder with his hand as the pass was being released. Given a first down, the Patriots scored a touchdown that gave them a 24-21 lead en route to a 37-31 overtime win.

In the third quarter, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes didn’t benefit from a similar hit by Patriots player Trey Flowers. No flag was thrown on the play.

“We are just heading into the period where rules changes are being discussed and being considered,” Rooney said in the 20-minute chat. “One of them is we always look at trying to protect the quarterback. There was a bit of controversy on calls to protect the quarterback, and that’s something we have to look at and make sure officiating is very consistent on it.

“Whether or not we have a rule change, there is work to be done to make sure we have consistency in that area.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is a member of the NFL competition committee, which is responsible for adopting rules changes that team owners then vote on at their annual meetings in late March.

The NFL already outlawed hits to the head of quarterbacks and provided further protection in 2018 by saying defensive players can be flagged for putting “all or part of their body weight” on the quarterback after the ball is released.

In 2018, the NFL also changed the rule that clarifies the definition of a catch. It came after the Steelers were denied a touchdown by Jesse James in a last-second loss to the Patriots.

“I was happy with the change to the catch rule,” Rooney said. “I wish it would have come a year earlier, and Jesse James’ catch would have counted.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Steelers
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