Penalties Still Holding Steelers Back

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 1, 2017: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers argues a call with line judge Ron Marinucci during a game against the Cleveland Browns on January 1, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won 27-24 in overtime. (Photo by: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mike Tomlin;Ron Marinucci

If the Pittsburgh Steelers were unhappy with their level of discipline in the regular season opener against the Browns, then they should not be feeling much better this week. After recording 13 penalties in all phases of the game a week ago, they still added another 10 on Sunday against the Vikings, and they hurt.

In fact, just on the opening drive, an illegal formation penalty on third and three wiped out a five-yard reception that would have given the offense a first down. Instead, they were backed up five yards, and the eventual pass on third and eight fell incomplete.

On their second offensive possession, Jesse James was flagged for holding on first and 10 from Minnesota’s 17-yard line that negated a three-yard carry. Fortunately, though, Martavis Bryant was able to bail them out, scoring a 27-yard touchdown on a catch and run the next play.

Then Bryant and his receivers proceeded to coordinate a group celebration that eventually triggered a penalty for a delay of game as the Steelers lined up for a two-point attempt after the touchdown. Naturally.

Things were looking ugly on the next drive as well, following a false start by Alejandro Villanueva and then a sack on the next play, but then they were bailed out thanks to a long penalty. On a deep shot targeting Bryant, the Steelers were able to draw a pass interference call for 49 yards, and they scored three plays later.


The Vikings’ lone touchdown drive got off on the right foot thanks to a pass interference penalty on Artie Burns, however, that moved the ball from the 18-yard line to the 35. Later in the game, a penalty on their new long snapper, Kameron Canaday, pushed them out of a comfortable range for a field goal attempt, so they decided to punt instead.

A holding penalty against Anthony Chickillo on a punt return by Eli Rogers that was returned to the 34-yard line also pushed them back to their own 17. The offense was eventually able to provide an 11-play, five-minute scoring drive off of that that netted a field goal.

Of course, it helps when you opponent is as bad as you are in hurting yourself with penalties, and on Sunday they met their match in Minnesota. Their first offensive drive of the game stalled after a holding call, then the defense jumped offside on fourth and one the next possession, after which they also were marked for a 22-yard pass interference penalty.

They were also flagged for an illegal formation on a missed field goal attempt from 51 yards out that allowed them to rekick from 46, good for a 17-3 lead at the time. The Vikings actually had 11 penalties for 131 yards, even worse than Pittsburgh. But that doesn’t change the fact that they need to clean up their act.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Well going from 13 in week one to 10 in week two is moving thing is the right direction. I would like to see that number get down below 6 though. 0 would be ideal but I don’t expect that.

  • popsiclesticks

    I don’t mind penalties like the one on Artie. It’s gonna happen to corners and is really no different than a catch he’d probably give up if he always backed off. He’s been lights out, IMO.

  • george

    Let’s hope they keep moving in the right direction. Usually when we play Baltimore it comes down to penalties and turn overs to determine who wins.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    In 2012, the NFL claimed that games averaged 12-13 penalties per game. So, 6-7 penalties per team.

    I’m sure Goodell’s striped flying monkeys 🐒 call more penalties per game now but the Steelers averaging 11.5 penalties a game seems extraordinarily high.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Just Checked on teamrankings and Pittsburgh is ranked 32nd in penalties with 23 after two games.

    Kansas City and Jacksonville are next with 20 a piece. The redskins have the least with 6.

  • SwagDaddy330

    Watching the discipline on this team is an absolute joke.

  • Pre-snap penalties, yes I agree with you is discipline. But a guy trying to make a tackle or dislodge the ball from receiver and hitting them in the head hardly qualifies as undisciplined. Especially when the refs make the call of the jumbotron replay.

  • SwagDaddy330

    I agree with most of that however, at some point being the most penalized team in the league boils down to discipline. If every NFL team used bad calls as an excuse, they’d also average 12 penalties a game.