Let's get to it:
GLENN MCCULLOUGH FROM NORTH PORT, FL: I just read that the official who directed a slur at a Buffalo Bills player a few weeks ago was fined a game check, and that the amount of that game check was $9,500. I had no idea the pay was that high and after the pitiful calls just against the Steelers I'm wondering, do all the officials make that kind of money?
ANSWER: According to ESPN.com and Yahoo Sports, NFL game officials earned an average of $149,000 in 2011. Pay for NFL officials varies based on seniority, so some officials earned considerably more. Based on the new contract between the NFL and the NFLRA that was signed in September 2012, NFL referees earned an average of $173,000 in 2013, and will move up to an average of $205,000 by 2019. And for the most part, this is a part-time job.
JC CHUTA FROM PITTSBURGH, PA: That Oakland game made me miss Landry Jones. Josh Dobbs was pretty overwhelmed and probably pretty lucky he wasn't playing the Ravens or any other competent team. Any chance Mike Tomlin noticed this and signs Jones?
ANSWER: Highly unlikely. The Steelers utilized the entire offseason program, training camp, and then the four games of the preseason to hammer out their depth chart at quarterback, and the decision was made to keep Joshua Dobbs over Landry Jones. Once that decision was made and Dobbs was kept, you can expect the Steelers to work to develop and nurture Dobbs' talents, just as they did with Jones during the early years of his NFL career.
JIM TOKARSKY FROM NORWALK, OH: After Jaylen Samuels' run with under three minutes remaining, the Patriots were called for defensive holding. If the flag were not thrown, another 30 seconds would have expired or New England would have burned a timeout. Is that the NFL rule, to reward the defense for a penalty by stopping the clock?
ANSWER: That's the rule, and the consequence of the rule did reward the defense for committing a penalty.
ADAM STATTI FROM CAPE CORAL, FL: Obviously the crowd noise helped, but were the Steelers doing anything in particular to cause so many false start penalties by the Patriots?
ANSWER: It's interesting how perception can vary based on people's preconceived notions. If the Steelers had been penalized 14 times, including a number of false starts, the narrative would've been that the team was undisciplined and ill-prepared to deal with the circumstances presented by the venue. But since it's New England, it must be the crowd noise or something the opponent did. Maybe the Patriots are just an undisciplined bunch who came into the game unprepared, or do the players have to be wearing Steelers uniforms for that to be the case?
SEAN DELANEY FROM UPTON, MA: Any idea what has happened to Artie Burns? After such a promising rookie year, his play has declined precipitously and is now relegated to special teams. Coach Mike Tomlin went out of his way to clear him of blame from the Chris Hogan score, but his subsequent benching indicates otherwise. He has talent and is not injured. What is holding him back?
ANSWER: If there was a simple answer to this question, the Steelers would've unearthed it and addressed the issue, because Artie Burns is a talent and a former No. 1 pick at a position where the Steelers have a need. My guess about Burns is that he needs to develop the kind of short memory that all good NFL cornerbacks possess, because if you play that position, you are going to get beat, you are going to give up touchdowns. The good-to-great ones learn to forget bad plays and move on to the next play, and Burns is still developing that skill.
JAMES MACPHERSON FROM BEACHWOOD, NJ: With the way Matt Feiler and Chuks Okorafor were playing, why didn't we put Marcus Gilbert on injured reserve way earlier so he could be eligible for playoffs?
ANSWER: How would the act of putting Marcus Gilbert on injured reserve, say, a month ago, help his knee injury heal more quickly? It's not like he has been playing on it and making it worse.
CHARLIE MELTON FROM NEW BOSTON, TX: The play where the Steelers were called for 12 men on the field, two Patriots players subbed in from the sideline. Why didn't the officials allow the Steelers to substitute in response?
ANSWER: That should have happened. It didn't. I'm sure Al Riveron will make up some excuse for that scenario.
PAUL KAMMERMEIER FROM HONEOYE FALLS, NY: I thought the worst call by the officials this week was the apparent fumble by New England in the second half. The officials announced that the ruling on the field was that the player was "down by contact" before the ball came loose. Then AFTER the Steelers threw the challenge flag, they changed the ruling on the field to "forward progress stopped," which is a non-reviewable call. CBS showed one replay from a bad angle, then it was seemingly forgotten. What gives?
ANSWER: I thought the play was a fumble and would have been determined to be a fumble upon a replay review, but by changing the verbiage the zebras protected themselves and forced their call on the field to stand. Another example of instant replay not getting the call correct. Typical.