Tomlin Fends Off Reporters

Pittsburgh media unhappy with Steelers' game-winning touchdown in Green Bay.

The press conference was held on a different day this week because of Christmas, but Mike Tomlin went through his usual routine of review, preview and injury updates.

It was the press, though, that was different. In a twist, several reporters didn't appreciate the Steelers' game-winning touchdown as much as Tomlin did.

Of course, it was a touchdown the Green Bay Packers wanted the Steelers to score in order to keep time on the clock.

To review, the game was tied and the Steelers had the ball at the Green Bay 1 with 1:28 remaining and the Packers out of timeouts. Ben Roethlisberger handed off to Le'Veon Bell and he easily sliced through the Packers' defense, which had been given the order to let him score (and clearly all but Josh Boyd, No. 93, got the message).

The Packers returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards and came as close as the Pittsburgh 1 before running out of time without a tying touchdown.

Tomlin was asked Monday if, upon reflection, he would make the same decision with the ball as he did Sunday.

"I would," Tomlin said. "I just had a concern of kneeling under the circumstances with the weather conditions being what they were. [Mason] Crosby, their kicker, had a kick blocked earlier on that end of the field. And to be honest with you, it wasn't anything that we did. I just think it was a low-hit ball and you're talking about a guy who's been kicking great all year. I was concerned about the weather conditions from that standpoint. Also, when they utilized their last timeout, I was more comfortable with putting the defense on the field under those circumstances after getting a touchdown.

"If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably do it the same. Obviously, if I knew they were going to return the kickoff 70 yards, I'd probably have a different approach. But I don't anticipate them doing that, although they did."

That would normally have been the end of it, but various reporters persisted and used the televised press conference to:

A.) Ask Tomlin he would do the same had Aaron Rodgers been playing for the Packers.

"We might not even have been in that situation had Aaron Rodgers been the quarterback yesterday," Tomlin said.

B.) Argue the case with Tomlin without asking him a question.

"I can't give you any more answers than I've given you," Tomlin said.

C.) Ask if Tomlin would consider a different course of action before the situation arose again, as if Tomlin had been surprised and overwhelmed by the situation.

"It really depends on the circumstance. It really does, guys," Tomlin said. "I'm sorry I'm not answering the question to your satisfaction."

Tomlin will likely be on the reverse end of "satisfaction" when the NFL explains the next most controversial play of the Steelers' 38-31 win over the Packers.

The Steelers blocked a 23-yard field goal late in the third quarter and Ryan Clark picked up the loose ball and inexplicably tried to lateral it. The ball bounced and was eventually slapped by Ziggy Hood for a batting penalty that gave the Packers the ball, a first down, and ultimately a touchdown since the penalty occurred without a change of possession.

The officials told Tomlin he could not review whether possession had been gained by Clark, and they did so without explanation.

"I didn't understand that," Tomlin said, "but I'm sure there are several, many rules in the book that I don't understand in great detail. It made common sense to me that I could challenge that, but they ruled otherwise. I'm sure at some point I'll get clarity in regards to that. But in the game, obviously, I thought that was going to be a challengeable play. Makes sense that it should be, but it wasn't."

Regardless, the Steelers remain in playoff contention into the final weekend of regular-season play with a 7-8 record. They need a five-way tie for the sixth and final playoff spot with the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers in order to qualify for the playoffs.

For that to happen, the Steelers must win at home against the Cleveland Browns and hope for the following:

* Cincinnati defeats visiting Baltimore.

* New York wins at Miami.

* Kansas City wins at San Diego.

It remains a longshot, but "still having a horse in this race is important," said Tomlin.

As for the injuries, rookie linebacker Terrence Garvin, who started Sunday at Green Bay, has a sprained knee and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders injured his lateral meniscus. Those appear to be the most serious injuries, although Tomlin said both players are questionable for Sunday.

"There's more optimism there than initially anticipated," Tomlin said.

Rookie OLB Jarvis Jones, who missed the Packers game with an illness, is expected to return.

Rookie WR Markus Wheaton has another fractured finger that "will be splinted and taped to another one beside it and he'll proceed."

Tomlin also said that OLB Jason Worilds has an abdominal injury that could slow him early in the week.


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