Tomlin Brings In Officials; Explains Strategy

The Steelers' coach provideds answers in one of his most honest press conferences.

In the aftermath of being flagged 13 times for 125 yards in a loss to the previously winless Tampa Bay Bucs, Mike Tomlin said he's bringing in game officials to work practices for the Steelers this week.

"I understand that penalties are a part of football," said Tomlin, "but the ones that really get me going are the pre-snap penalties because that's concentration, that's detail, that's cohesion, that's game-readiness, and we had too many of those."

The pre-snap penalties that particularly bothered Tomlin were the third-and-2 offsides by Arthur Moats with 4:09 to play and the punt-formation penalty in the first quarter in which William Gay lined up over center.

The Steelers this season have eight offensive and five defensive pre-snap penalties. The league leaders have 10 and seven, respectively.

Overall, the Steelers have committed 44 penalties for a league-leading 387 yards. Last year they were penalized for the third-fewest amount of yardage.

As for the six personal fouls the Steelers committed Sunday, Tomlin said, "We can't have egregious, repeat offenders. If we do, they're going to be dealt with."

There weren't any repeat offenses Sunday. Tomlin called it "popcorn," or a smattering of different players. Tomlin did lend a sympathetic ear to one of the 15-yarders.

"Cam Heyward was frustrated on the touchdown because he thought there was holding on the play. I thought there was holding on the play. Everybody in the stadium thought there was holding on the play. But it wasn't called. That's understandable. If I would've been on that side of the field, they probably would've penalized me. Some of the other ones, we've got to channel our energy and enthusiasm in a more positive way, particularly with some of the young ones. With Le'Veon Bell, it's an opportunity to teach. But it better not happen again."


On third-and-5 at their own 19, with 1:35 to play and Tampa Bay out of timeouts, Tomlin told offensive coordinator Todd Haley to call a play with a run-pass option that, Tomlin said, had produced a 19-yard pass to Heath Miller and 16 and 13-yard runs by Le'Veon Bell earlier in the game.

"We had gone to the concept several times in the game, and had success whether we ran it or passed it," Tomlin said. "We really felt good about that play. ... But it all boils down to execution, and we didn't execute properly."

Le'Veon Bell lost two yards under a wave of tacklers and the Steelers punted. "Unsuccessfully," Tomlin added about Brad Wing's 29-yard punt.


Tomlin explained Louis Murphy's back-breaking catch-and-run by saying the Steelers didn't get any pressure on Glennon, that the inside linebacker (Lawrence Timmons) didn't drop far enough, and that the deep safety (Troy Polamalu) didn't take the proper angle to Murphy after he made the catch and ran to the Pittsburgh 5 with 35 seconds remaining. It set up the game-winning touchdown pass with seven seconds remaining.

"Usually when you fail in that manner, 41 yards, it's a combination of failure at all three levels. It really was," Tomlin said.


On the third snap of the game, Tampa Bay's Michael Johnson came free off Ben Roethlisberger's blind side to hit Roethlisberger and cause a fumble. The Bucs recovered and scored a touchdown two plays later.

On tape, Le'Veon Bell appeared to be late in getting over to block Johnson. Tomlin was asked if that was the precise problem.

"That was a screen play. It just wasn't executed very well," Tomlin said. "Le'Veon didn't blunt the charge of Michael Johnson enough for Ben to get rid of the ball over Johnson and to Bell. We sack-fumbled as a result of it."


The Steelers suffered no new injuries Sunday and Tomlin said the status of cornerback Ike Taylor (out, broken forearm) and inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (doubtful, MCL sprain) hasn't changed.

"We'll get him moving in some form or fashion at some point today to get an evaluation of his readiness," Tomlin said of Shazier. "I wouldn't be too optimistic about his participation. But maybe something happens. He's a young guy."


Tomlin said, "They're an 0-4 football team, but obviously that doesn't mean very much. We lost to an 0-3 team last week."

Tomlin is impressed by a Jacksonville pass rush that ranks third in the NFL with 12 sacks, and also the way the Jaguars have performed with rookie Blake Bortles at quarterback.

Bortles is a 6-5, 232-pounder who was drafted third overall out of Central Florida. His best pro comparison coming out was probably Roethlisberger, and Tomlin praised Bortles' mobility and ability to throw the misdirection passes that bothered the Steelers in their opener.

Since replacing Chad Henne two games ago, Bortles has completed 71 percent of his passes with a QB rating of 82.4. He's thrown three touchdowns passes, four interceptions, and been sacked four times.


Tomlin: "We're minus in the turnover ratio and we're one of the most highly penalized teams in football" he said. "We probably should be thankful we're 2-2."

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