Steelers’ Diontae Johnson rips refs, says they ‘wanted’ Jaguars to win

Steelers’ Diontae Johnson rips refs, says they ‘wanted’ Jaguars to win originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Football games are played 11-on-11, but Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson felt like his team was playing 11-on-18 in NFL Week 8.

Johnson blasted the officials following Sunday’s 20-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh. The fifth-year pro even went as far to say that the refs “wanted” Jacksonville to win the game and that they “must’ve got paid good today or something.”

“They were calling some stupid stuff,” Johnson, who tallied eight catches for 85 yards in the loss, told reporters. “They should get fined for making terrible calls. That’s how (mad) I am because they cost us the game. I don’t care what nobody says, they cost us the game.

“(The referees) must’ve got paid good today or something,” he added. “(The referees) wanted (Jacksonville) to win. Everything was in their favor. They were getting every little call. But it is what it is.”

The Steelers were flagged six times for 52 yards while the Jaguars had six penalties for 72 yards. But Johnson was particularly upset over how roughing the passer was officiated.

Inside the final 20 seconds of the first half, Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett was knocked out of the game with a rib injury after taking a hit from Jaguars defensive end Adam Gotsis. The hit looked like it might have warranted a roughing the passer call, but no flag was thrown.

Earlier in the half, a questionable roughing the passer call was made on Steelers safety Keanu Neal following a hit to Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

“Y’all are supposed to be protecting us. That’s our quarterback. He got slammed. He’s not allowed to slam anybody,” Johnson said. “It’s hard because you need your quarterback out there at the end of the day. We gotta roll with the next guy. That messes up the whole gameplan so now we gotta scramble to figure things out again.”

A couple of plays after Pickett’s injury, a 55-yard made field goal by Steelers kicker Chris Boswell was negated by an offsides call on guard Isaac Seumalo. Referee Alan Eck said the call was made because Seumalo was lined up in the neutral zone.

Boswell then missed an ensuing 61-yard try as Pittsburgh entered halftime trailing 9-3.

When asked about the offsides flag, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he “hadn’t seen that called in 17 years of standing on the sidelines.”

“I’m sure if you line up over the ball, it’s offsides, but I never heard about it, or heard it called,” Seumalo added. “I thought I lined up in the same spot I’ve been lining up for the past eight years.”

After dropping to 4-3, the Steelers have a quick turnaround as they host the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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