Tomlin Refutes Claim Steelers’ Offense Relies Too Much On PI Penalties


As many who follow the NFL closely already know, explosive plays are a huge element of every game in addition to turnovers. In the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday win over the Minnesota Vikings, the team’s offense only registered three explosive plays on paper. With that said, one can’t discount the two pass interference penalties that were called on the Vikings defense that resulted in explosive yardage gains of 22 and 49 yards. Additionally, the Steelers offense also registered a gain of 41-yards in their Week 1 win over the Cleveland Browns thanks to a pass interference penalty

On Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was very curiously asked if he’s concerned right now that the team’s offense is having to rely heavily on defensive pass interference penalties so far this season.

“To say that you’re relying on defensive penalties, splash plays were not produced because of those defensive penalties,” Tomlin replied. “When 10 [Martavis Bryant] is running behind somebody, if you dont jump on his back, he’s going to catch it and score. So, you can frame it in whatever way you want to frame it. The reality is, we’ve been in third and long some. In Week 1, we were in third and long some because of the penalties. That was the case some this week, but less so.”

In Week 1, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw deep a total of five times, including penalty plays, and that resulted in several fans of the team wondering why more shots weren’t taken. On Sunday against the Vikings, Roethlisberger threw deep a total of 10 times and that resulted in some fans wondering if that was too much. On Tuesday, Tomlin was asked if those double-digit deep pass attempts against the Vikings were part of the game plan, or just a result of what the defense was inviting due to some alignments they showed.

“It’s always both,” Tomlin said. “We’re not going to allow you to play on the line of scrimmage and not stretch you. We’re not going to allow you to play man-to-man and not stretch you. We want you to defend the entire field, both vertically and horizontally, and that’s our mentality. But it was also coupled with the techniques that they employed. They’ve [the Vikings] got top-flight, first-round corners, high pedigree guys, guys that have big contracts, so, the game unfolded in the ways that it unfolded.”


During his Tuesday morning interview on 93.7 The Fan, Roethlisberger was also asked if all Sunday’s deep shots were part of the plan or a result of the way the Vikings defense was playing at times.

‘Its kind of their double-edged sword,” Roethlisberger said of the Vikings defense. “Their secondary plays very tight, their safeties are down, they entice you to throw the deep ball. But to throw the deep ball, you’ve got to be able to sit in the pocket for a little bit longer than normal. You know the ball’s not coming out quick, so they count on their pass rush to get there and it was creating pressure.

“There was a couple of sacks, but even on top of that, there were some hurried throws. I had to hurry some throws and that’s just because they were creating issues in the pocket. And so they kind of give you the deep ball if you can block it.”

Through two games, Roethlisberger’s passing stats might not look great on paper to many as he has officially has 506 yards passing on 71 total attempts. However, if you were to add in the 112 in defensive pass interference yardage that came courtesy of Roethlisberger throwing deep in the first two games, his total passing yardage on the season jumps to 618, an average of 309 per game.

“That’s a very very good defense that we went against,” Roethlisberger said of the Vikings. “If you look at the stats, which you know me, I’m not really a big stat-guy at all, but you look at maybe the numbers weren’t there and whatever. But you look at, I think there were three plays that were big plays in the game that wouldn’t go on the stat sheet. And they were a pass interference on A.B. [Antonio Brown] for like 40 yards, a 50 or 60 yard pass interference on Martavis Bryant, we got a free play, deep ball down the field to Martavis. I mean, there were some really big plays in the game that I think defensive guys say, ‘Hey, listen, I’m just going to tackle the guy, because I’m not going to give up a touchdown.’ And those are big plays for an offense that if they go in the offenses’ stats, then all of a sudden your stats look better, or whatever. But winning the game is all that mattered.”

  • WARisHELL

    When I heard that question asked live I rolled my eyes so hard I almost passed out

  • nutty32

    Unbelievable. Anyone that has played even flag football or Madden football knows that’s a completely stupid question. And yet he gets paid to write about football & twitter numb nuts eat that crap up…
    This entire world is ass backwards.

  • Yea we went deep a lot last week. Yea we got 2 PIs called in our favor. But never did I once think they were going deep to for PIs to be called…

  • francesco

    That question should have been directed to Tom Brady.

  • VaDave

    And about 2 years too late for Joe Flacco

  • colingrant

    Extremely stupid question. It’s not like Ben’s throwing to DHB or Dwight Stone. He’s throwing it to the premier wide receiver in football. Reliance implies the Steelers are just happy to get a first down, when in fact it might be a hindrance in many cases as Brown has a reputation of taking 50/50 balls to the house. It’s almost like asking Tomlin, can you please excuse yourself for being really good………..Tomlin should have said a one word answer, “no” and moved to the next one, so magnify it’s stupid-ness. BTW….Flacco and Torri Smith must have gained 500 yards of opponent penalized yards on that play a few years back.

  • VaDave

    Tomlin ((Haley) can’t win. Jeese, can’t they cut this team some slack. It’s flipping week number two for cryminy sakes….

  • NinjaMountie

    I’m trying to figure out how Ben’s stats on paper don’t look good through two games.

    66% completions, 506 yards, 4 TDs to 1 Int for an above career average QB rating of 99.9

  • Mark

    Why do they overlook the number of wide open receivers that Ben misses during the game? It’s comical listening to Ben say he’s not into stats. Oh, you’re not into completing passes at a high rate to wide open receivers underneath to get 1st downs and keep the offense on the field.

  • NinjaMountie

    yup…that 66 percent completion percentage stinks. C’mon man.

  • falconsaftey43

    In 2014, Torrey Smith with the Ravens had 767 receiving yards. He drew an incredible 218 yards worth of pass interference and defensive holding penalties.

  • RickM

    We have a hated QB by a decent portion of the fanbase NM, we both know that. That segment of the fanbase couldn’t care less about the story where Roethlisbgerger moved into 7th all-time with 125 wins in the regular season. There are no comments from them about that accomplishment; they ignore it. Instead we get the constant flow of criticism about the plays he doesn’t make, or whatever else they can find to be negative about.

    Go read one of the Harrison story comments if you want further confirmation of their dislike. It is what it is. Just a bunch of bitter fans whom he couldn’t please is a million years.

  • falconsaftey43

    in 2015, when the Steelers were 3rd in passing yards with 4603, the Steelers earned 335 yards via pass interference and defensive holding penalties.

  • Burky

    Glad to see that at least the Steelers Depot crowd gets it. Dave, you shouldn’t have even posted that story on your site. You and your website are obviously smarter than that.

  • No he means hes into winning, not selfish goals like having good stats. Oh and we overlook that because you haven’t created that film room article for us yet man when’s it coming?

  • NinjaMountie

    Had to read that article. Yeah, Ben can do nothing right. He could win the SB this year and put up career marks and people would be calling for him to retire.
    Honestly, sometimes I can see how we Steelers fans are often voted the most obnoxious fans in football.

  • RickM

    I agree that a segment are obnoxious and ungrateful. I know they are the minority, but frankly their continual criticism of him wears you out. I guarantee you that if Rodgers, Brees, Brady, etc. made similar comments on their weekly radio shows, they wouldn’t be criticized by a single person in their fanbase. Fans would recognize that’s just part of the multiple topics covered on their shows. But this is Ben, so that contingent of fans who wait for anything to criticize pounce.

    I said earlier that I’ll be glad in some ways when Ben is gone. While I believe that all players should absolutely be subject to criticism, there’s an enmity towards Ben that just isn’t normal. Usually fanbases get nostalgic as HOF players near the end of their careers. Not a portion of this fanbase though.

  • Conserv_58

    I agree completely with coach T.

  • Richard Gray

    They should identify who asks these questions. Idiots.

  • ND_Steel

    I agree, Pittsburgh or National media, I don’t know which, is thirsting for drama with this team. Offense, Ben, Bell, Harrison, etc. We are two weeks in. Let it be! We need more focus less distractions.

  • Jim Foles

    MB had a TD if the defender would not have stopped him. It was a smart PI.

  • pittfan

    XYZ PI for 50 on hut. Yeah right, we call those plays.