"Who's No. 88? He sucked. I'll be honest with you, he was terrible," Norman said, making reference to the number on Freeman's shirt. "I feel some of the plays going on out there, I mean it was terrible. It's just how I'm feeling and how the team feels right now. It needs to be watched and reprimanded. They reprimand us, so what's the reprimand for them?"
He added: "We go down the field, (Jamison) Crowder scores. Blatant facemask. Blatant. We get a touchdown -- no call."
Norman then went on to say that the same official called a facemask penalty in the middle of a "scrumble" which he couldn't see, but refused to call one on Crowder.
There's a lot to unpack here, so let's get to it. Norman is right on a few things, though I'm not sure it was worth the inevitable fine he'll receive for blasting an official in the media.
- First off, Norman was flagged four times for illegal hands to the face and was upset about it. After re-watching the game, it was clearly a point of emphasis from officials. Norman started many routes in press coverage against A.J. Green and during the flagged plays, the route began with a slap or punch to the face. While some officiating crews may let you get away with it, the refs on Sunday were calling by the book. Good cornerbacks adjust to the flow of games. Norman kept doing it in hopes that it wouldn't be called, which is fine except for the fact that those calls essentially gave the Bengals more time to collect themselves and send in or adjust plays down the stretch of a tight tie game. Sometimes proving a point isn't worth it.
- The official had plenty of room to see that facemask call if Norman and I are speaking about the same one. Norman is behind the tackle and I could see how he thought he was shielding the official from the play, but there was a wide open angle between the sideline to the tackle on Gio Bernard.
- Norman is right about the facemask on Crowder. It was absolutely blatant. The call should have been enforced on the kickoff.
Still, I'm not sure this can be the core of his argument. Did the officials miss calls? Yes. Did Norman commit essentially the same penalty over and over again, risking valuable field position? Yes. Norman was not the only player in football to get called for that penalty Sunday, either. Ask Raiders receiver Amari Cooper, who got hit with a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for essentially the same motion -- if slightly more violent -- in overtime against Tampa Bay.