The Pittsburgh Steelers have not had the greatest of luck when it comes to refereeing decisions in 2018, but while there has been nothing they could have done about most of the missed calls, the ability to throw a challenge flag has done little to help them either.
Mike Tomlin has challenged four plays so far this season and has yet to see one go his way, a repeat of the 2017 season when he also failed to win one. Looking back over the length of his career, it would appear the last time Pittsburgh won a challenge was back in 2016.
Since winning their last challenge, Tomlin is 0-9 throwing the red flag. Statistically the NFL’s least successful coach at challenges over the past few years, nothing has changed this season to improve his ranking. However, as poor as his recent form has been, it has not always been that way. In six of his 12 seasons in charge, Tomlin won 50 percent of his challenges or better and once ranked as one of the more successful in the league.
While it would be fair to note that a head coach rarely makes the decision to throw the flag on his own, he carries the blame when it was the wrong thing to do. The Steelers last failed challenge came just last Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, an arguably debatable decision to challenge the spot of the ball on a 3-and-10 catch by JuJu Smith-Schuster that netted 9-yards.
Tomlin may also have had a better record as of late if he had opted to challenge some calls that looked to be flag worthy. A diving 25-yard touchdown run that was incorrectly ruled down at the 1-yard line in Week 6 against the Cincinnati Bengals is just one that comes to mind recently. A missed opportunity that came later in the game after Pittsburgh had already lost a challenge.
The Steelers 0-9 streak is not the worst in NFL history, but it is not far off. Marvin Lewis once lost 11 consecutive challenges and 14 out of 15 over the course of the 2006-07 seasons. As did John Fox with the Carolina Panthers in 2004-05. When compared to names like Andy Reid (46.9), John Harbaugh (45.91), Sean Payton (42.57) or Bill Belichick (40.35), Tomlin’s lifetime win rate of 45.71 percent is fairly respectable. That being said, Steeler fans would probably appreciate him winning a challenge in the not too distant future.