After Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with wide receiver Antonio Brown for a 54-yard touchdown pass Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens to take a commanding 29-10 lead with 14:01 left in the fourth quarter, the kickoff team gave it right back as Jacoby Jones raced 108-yards untouched on the ensuing kick. That special teams effort certainly didn’t make head coach Mike Tomlin happy and as a result, he now has a new rule in place for his kickoff team moving forward.
“We gave up a 108-yard kickoff return and quite frankly that’s ridiculous,” said Tomlin during his Tuesday press conference. “Guys dancing around and stuff and so forth before the ball’s kicked and to get one run back on them is unacceptable. You won’t see our kickoff team dancing anymore moving forward before we kick the ball off.”
While we don’t know for sure which players were dancing prior to the return, the all-22 tape does show safety Antwo Blake and linebacker Vince Williams both being a bit excited right before kicker Shaun Suisham started his approach to the football.
The Steelers will face the New York Jets Sunday and Tomlin was quick to point out Tuesday that they have a solid kick returner of their own that must be contained.
“We’re faced with a stiff challenge in that regard this week,” started Tomlin. “Percy Harvin has a great reputation and it’s one that’s well earned. But some of the things, it’s just about your mental approach and how you approach what it is you do and your readiness.”
If you look at the touchdown return from Sunday night, you will see that Blake and cornerback William Gay both allowed themselves to get turned out of the lane that Jones eventually took on his way to the end zone.
“The bottom line is that we looked ill-prepared and that’s unacceptable,” said Tomlin. “So we’ll make the necessary corrections there and hopefully that won’t happen again.”