The Pittsburgh Steelers enter today’s game having lost their previous two, first on the road to the Denver Broncos and then at home to the Los Angeles Chargers. Each unfolded somewhat differently, the latter featuring a dominant first half that seemed only marred by a bad officiating gaffe. And then the officiating gaffes continued.
Early in the season, Head Coach Mike Tomlin criticized such an officiating gaffe when they failed to identify that a loose ball on a punt had touched an opposing player, which made it a live ball that his team recovered. He later doubled down on his critique of this mistake, which resulted in a fine.
He chose to take a different approach following a loss that featured not one but two touchdowns that could have been called back due to penalties, and he expanded earlier today on why he chose to focus on other angles in the loss.
“I always choose the accountability approach – the things that we didn’t do – as opposed to the things that happened”, he said. “I’m not one who believes that things happen to us in stadiums. We dictate what happens to us in stadiums, positively or negatively”.
While the Chargers had several plays in which one of their offensive linemen false started but were not penalized, one in particular in the second quarter stung, and it was the most egregious of the group. With the right tackle false starting, the defense was looking for a flag when Philip Rivers hit his receiver down the field for a 46-yard touchdown. In the second half, the Chargers had a long punt return touchdown that benefitted by an illegal block in the back near the return man.
“I focus on the things we weren’t able to do and the things we didn’t do well, and appropriately so, because addressing it from that perspective ensures that we make the necessary adjustments to minimize the possibilities of those things moving forward”, Tomlin said, and it’s a fair point.
After all, as he said last week, addressing the issues in the game is only a matter of seeking comfort. There is no redress in terms of affecting the result of the game. You know that it happened whether you choose to focus on it or not, and focusing on it doesn’t benefit you.
“That’s just a prudent business approach”, he added. “I think sometimes when you talk about things just happening, that means an unwillingness to alter your approach or to change when necessary, and then you leave yourself susceptible to things repeating themselves”.
Tomlin and the Steelers are often accused of displaying an unwillingness to adapt and make adjustments—even Rivers suggested this after the game—but we don’t know everything that goes on behind the scenes. The head coach’s words here at least place the emphasis on the idea of being flexible, even if it’s not always apparent on the field.