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Jeremy Fowler, ESPN Staff Writer 25d

Ben Roethlisberger questions NFL's rash of roughing the passer flags

NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. -- The NFL's roughing the passer penalties have gotten so rampant that even the quarterbacks are noting the sheer volume.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who got hit on two penalized plays in Monday night's 30-27 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, pointed out NFL viewership could be affected by the flags.

"There's a lot of them," Roethlisberger said. "I don't want to criticize the officiating, especially when you're talking about a penalty that helps the quarterback out. I was surprised at the first one. The second one I thought was legit. He hit me in the helmet. It was kind of like hearing that loud ring when your helmet gets hit.

"There are sure a lot of them. I can't imagine the fans at home are enjoying it too much."

The game featured four roughing the passer penalties (two by each team), tied for the most in a single game since 2001, according to ESPN's Stats & Information.

Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was penalized with 7:25 left in the second quarter for knocking Roethlisberger's helmet while trying to corral him.

Known for taking hundreds of hits over the years, Roethlisberger was told the NFL must be serious about the calls if it's calling penalties for his hits.

"Finally," he said.

The Steelers were penalized 13 times for 155 yards while the Bucs got hit with nine flags for 80 yards, including one that wiped out an 80-yard DeSean Jackson punt return due to holding.

Pittsburgh technically got three flags for hits on the quarterback, including defensive end Cam Heyward's fourth-quarter unnecessary roughness call for making an aggressive play on Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said penalties "kind of marred the game" and that both teams had to play through it.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has received roughing the passer penalties in three consecutive games, and after Sunday's loss to the Washington Redskins, he said the league was getting "soft."

Heyward understands Matthews' frustration.

"I want guys to be violent and fast," Heyward said. "It's so hard to do that. You can't hit them, you can't go down with them, then you put yourself in jeopardy for either reversing or getting shrugged off. That's not football to me. I'm just being honest. What are we really teaching here?"

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