The Pittsburgh Steelers are not doing too well lately. That’s not exactly a secret. It’s a frequent topic on ESPN and the NFL Network. They need help in Week 17 from the Cleveland Browns, of all teams, to make it back into the postseason for the fifth consecutive year.
This is what happens when you lose four out of five games down the stretch. You go from controlling whether or not you have a first-round bye to potentially sitting out the postseason altogether. Head Coach Mike Tomlin has consistently taken a ‘move forward’ approach in the aftermath of these defeats, however, even when some have argued that there were extracurricular factors.
In the losses to the Los Angeles Chargers and the New Orleans Saints, for example, one could argue that the two teams combined were spotted at least 21 points thanks purely to poor officiating calls. The Chargers scored touchdowns when they failed to flag a false start and multiple illegal blocks on a kick return, while the Saints were the beneficiary of a bad pass interference call on fourth down that gave them first and goal on the one.
Tomlin was already asked after the Chargers game about how he felt regarding the possibility of replay being utilize to address penalties, and he had a clear answer at the time. He was against it, largely because he understands that football is an entertainment industry, and watching replay reviews is not entertaining. He doubled down on Tuesday when asked again following the Saints game.
“You know, I have a firm position on that. I don’t think penalties should be reviewable,” he said. “I just worry about the entertainment component of it, and what that might do for fans and the viewership. What that looks like. Given some of the things that have happened here, I’m sure it will be up for debate, as it always is and has been in recent years because technology and the amount of coverage that our game at this level gets not only on Sunday but seven days a week, allows for that type of scrutiny and review”.
As he notes, it comes up almost every year as a suggested rule change that the Competition Committee-on which he serves—considers. There is usually a team or committee that suggests in some form or fashion that replay be expanded to include penalties.
“It’s just part of our business today. I think we all understand that”, he said. I think we’re all ready to have that debate every year. I don’t think we’re ever moving from that debate—the utilization of technology and information on different components of the game, whether it’s play, strategy, officiating, or otherwise”.
While he expects it to be a topic of conversation once again this year, however, Tomlin made it pretty clear which way he would vote, even though it could have really helped the Steelers in 2018, perhaps even being the difference between making and missing the postseason.