Watson scampered to the sideline for no gain, and was then flagged for a personal foul after he grabbed the helmet of Kwon Alexander and dragged him toward the bench on Pittsburgh’s sideline.
Tensions flared afterwards, and amid the ensuing chaos, Watson tried to get in the face of some Steelers defenders. An official attempted to impede his path, and he could be seen shoving the referee to the side.
The quarterback was then pulled away from the situation by tight end David Njoku and Ethan Pocic after making contact with the referee.
Looks like Deshaun Watson got away with putting his hands on an official. Usually a no-no. pic.twitter.com/EbEjDiyaxO— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 19, 2023
Typically, making unnecessary physical contact with a referee would result in a 15-yard penalty, and often an ejection would follow. Watson drew an unnecessary roughness flag for his interaction with Alexander but was otherwise not penalized for his actions.
Watson struggled during Cleveland’s 26–22 loss against the NFC North rival Steelers. He completed 22-of-40 pass attempts for 235 yards, one touchdown, one interception and two lost fumbles.
In addition to the unnecessary roughness penalty, Watson was later flagged for another personal foul.