The Pittsburgh Steelers made another comeback in the fourth quarter the 20:16 victory against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football in Week 9. But the game might not have been so close if The Steelers had committed fewer than 10 penalties in their season-high for 80 yards.
That was the brief message from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin after the contest. The 17-year head coach referred to the penalties in the opening statement of his post-game press conference on November 2nd.
“Really excited about the win. [But] Of course it could have been cleaner,” Tomlin told reporters. “From a penalty shootout point of view, the first thing is that as a difficult team to beat you don’t have to kick yourself in the butt and we’ve done that a few times. We have to own this.
“We will. We will review it, we will learn from it, we will look at it.”
Tomlin continued, explaining how the Steelers will specifically address the team’s sudden penalty problem.
“We’re going to bring some officers into our office to be cleaner because in many cases this has been really disastrous to our efforts tonight,” Tomlin said.
Alone in defense, the Steelers had 6 accepted penalties for 50 yards in Week 9.
Steelers win despite a season-high 10 penalties
Pittsburgh started Week 9 with the third fewest penalties in the NFL. The Steelers had just 36 total penalties accepted in their first seven games.
But on November 2nd, the Steelers conceded 10 penalties at home against the Titans. Five of them came in the first quarter, including four on the defense’s first possession of the night.
Rookie cornerback Joey Porter Jr. made some good coverage plays throughout the evening. But he also committed three accepted penalties. Two of them were on third or fourth down, giving the Titans an automatic first down.
Senior cornerback Patrick Peterson was also hands-on and committed two illegal contact penalties.
On offense, rookie Broderick Jones made his first start at right tackle. He made some huge blocks downfield and paved the way to the post for the Steelers a season-high 166 rushing yards.
But Jones called an illegal man downfield penalty on the first drive of the game. It wasn’t costly as the Steelers scored their first drive touchdown to open the season.
But Jones’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after an extra point in the fourth quarter moved the Steelers’ kickoff 15 yards. As a result, the Titans began their next drive near midfield.
Luckily, the defense held firm and didn’t allow the Titans to get a first down on this drive.
Ultimately, the Steelers survived all the penalties and won by four points. But committing 10 penalties is obviously not a recipe for success.
Mike Tomlin delivers a message about the penalties after the win over the Titans
Although the Steelers entered this week as one of the least penalized teams in the league, penalties have been a topic of conversation in the Steelers media for several weeks. Pittsburgh had 8 accepted penaltiesincluding two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls in the fourth quarter, in Week 7 against the Los Angeles Rams.
On October 29th in Week 8 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, The Steelers had 6 accepted penalties for 52 yards.
After November 2nd, the Steelers have averaged 8 penalties per game over the past three weeks.
Pittsburgh now has a few extra days to prepare for the team’s Week 10 opponent – the Green Bay Packers. It sounds like Tomlin will certainly use this time to solve the team’s sudden penalty problem.
“I thought we did a good job” Tomlin said in response to a question about the team’s run defense. “But I just thought the penalties were disastrous to our defense efforts. It was really.”
Dave Holcomb is a sports reporter who covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions for Heavy.com. Originally from Pittsburgh, Holcomb has covered college and professional sports for media outlets such as Fansided, Rotowire and Yardbarker. More about Dave Holcomb
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