?The crew led by referee Walt Anderson has worked 11 of 13 weeks, and only twice has it not ranked in the top five for most accepted penalties.
?Over a four-game stretch beginning in Week 3, the crew headed by Johnny Grier stepped off 32, 22, 25 and 21 penalties. Each week Grier's crew called the most infractions.
?Anderson's crew has officiated eight games in which it has walked off 15 or more penalties, while Tom White's crew has had seven such games. On the other hand the crews led by Gerald Austin and Bernie Kukar have each had one game with 15 or more flags.
?There have been five games in which 25 or more penalties were accepted, and Anderson and Grier were involved in two each. In the Nov. 23 Saints-Eagles game, Anderson's crew raised its average for penalties flagged to a league-high 18.6 per game (compared with Austin's league-low 11.2) with a performance for the ages: 34 flags on 151 plays, with 26 accepted penalties for 272 yards.
"It would concern me if their percentage of accuracy was low," Mike Pereira, the NFL's director of officiating, says of Anderson's crew. "But it isn't. The question is, If a foul is there, do you want it called or not? That crew is calling fouls that are there."
Yet how can a league that prides itself on parity among teams allow such disparity among its officiating crews?
Jon Kitna's Breakout Season
Bengals Passer Earns His Stripes
Entering his team's bye week at 1-4, Cincinnati quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese called starter Jon Kitna into his office and informed him that rookie Carson Palmer might soon be getting a chance to play. "He told me I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, but if we didn't win a couple of games coming out of the bye, I'd probably be out of the lineup," Kitna recalled last week "I thought, It's now or never."
The Bengals are 6-1 since that meeting, and Palmer, the first pick in the 2003 draft, still hasn't taken a snap. During the hot streak Kitna has completed 60% of his attempts while throwing 16 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. In the final 1:05 in Pittsburgh on Sunday, he took Cincinnati 52 yards in four plays, capping the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Schobel that gave the Bengals a 24-20 win over the Steelers. The victory kept the Bengals tied with the Ravens atop the AFC North at 7-5 heading into their showdown in Baltimore this Sunday.
"Everybody's looking for what the big difference is," says the 31-year-old Kitna, whose 91.2 quarterback rating is 12 points higher than his previous best for a season. "I'm throwing the same as I did a year ago. Now our receivers are more experienced—the guys are in the right spots."