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Mike Tomlin addresses the Steelers’ penalty problem throughout the regular season

Tomlin admits that the number of penalties is worrisome for the sports-entertainment business

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Before addressing anything else at his weekly press conference, Mike Tomlin began by speaking about the penalties in the Monday night victory over Tampa Bay. Playing hard was a large factor in the number of flags according to Tomlin, but he admitted the team must play cleaner.

“I do acknowledge we have to play better, and smarter.”

The hidden yardage element was another issue Coach Tomlin mentioned when it came to penalties. A nullified punt downed at the 1 yard line when the Steelers were called for an illegal shift was his specific example. After those 5 yards, along with an additional 15, were assessed to Darrius Heyward-Bey for arguing with the official over the initial call, the following the play ended up as a touchback giving the Bucs the ball at the 20 yard line.

Tomlin also mentioned the number of penalties is worrisome from a fans perspective.

“As somebody who loves football, that probably wasn’t a fun game to watch.”

Tomlin did state he felt like the game was called evenly between the two teams.

“It’s been pretty balanced in the stadiums we’ve been in.”

It will be interesting to see if Tomlin feels the same after extensively reviewing the game film. One example of inconsistent officiating was on Tampa’s first extra point to try when Daniel McCullers was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. While lined up on the guard, McCullers cut hard to the inside, striking the long snapper and knocking him over. The Buccaneers did the exact same thing on Chris Boswell‘s missed PAT which would have given him another opportunity. The Tampa Bay defender lined up over the guard and dove hard to the inside, knocking over Kameron Canaday in the process. If the play on McCullers was a penalty, the play against Canaday should have been one as well.

It is fair to say the Steelers have not had an overwhelming difference in penalties in each of their games. Although 37 penalties for the first three weeks is historically high, the Steelers have had only five more total penalties than their opponents. Of their plus-five margin, last night’s game against Tampa Bay accounted for four of them. But Tomlin did not specifically single out a problem in Monday night’s contest.

“I don’t worry a lot about how the game is being officiated provided it’s being officiated in a similar way.”

The hope is the Steelers will be more disciplined as the Baltimore Ravens come to Heinz Field for a Week 4, Sunday Night Football, showdown.