The Pittsburgh Steelers have had an awful lot of problems so far during the 2018 regular season en route to their 1-1-1 record—oddly, a record that four players now have. Not the least of them has been a lack of discipline in all three phases of the game.
That means, first and foremost, penalties. For the third consecutive game, the Steelers had at least 12 penalties called against them, the latest being last night’s victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were previously undefeated.
As you might guess, Head Coach Mike Tomlin was not pleased with this aspect of his team’s performance, though he was probably too preoccupied with his relief of finally securing a victory to really dwell on how big of an impact the accumulation of penalties really could have had.
“I thought the penalties kind of marred the game”, he told reporters at the start of his post-game press conference last night. “There were a lot of penalties on us and them. We’ll look at it and learn from it. But I thought the guys played extremely hard”. In all, the Steelers suffered 13 accepted penalties for 155 yards.
“We’ve got to learn how to play hard and smart as we move forward”, Tomlin added. “But I’ll look at the tape and look at some of those penalties and analyze it and see where we can get better. We’ve all worked hard to play within the rules. It was a tough time of it tonight”.
The penalties came in every phase of the game. It started with the opening kickoff and ended on a potentially critical punt late in the game. It’s almost a wonder that there wasn’t a flag thrown on the final 10 snaps of the game, even considering that three of them were from the victory formation.
Offensively, Alejandro Villanueva was flagged twice, including for a hold on third and one at Tampa’ 25. He had a false start earlier in the drive as well. But the offensive side of the ball was the cleanest of the three by far.
Defensively, the team was docked for two roughing the passer penalties—which will generate its own controversy—but outside of that also dealt with an unnecessary roughness on Jon Bostic, too many men on the field, and a defensive hold that was declined.
It was special teams where the real carnage reigned, starting with a hold on the opening kickoff. That was followed by two unnecessary roughness penalties on point-after tries, a facemask, and last but not least an illegal shift that negated a punt downed at the one that was followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct as Darrius Heyward-Bey argued the previous penalty.
There was a little something for everyone who loves undisciplined football in all phases. And the Steelers certainly need to be cleaner about their play in the very near future.