The Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 regular season opening win over the Cleveland Browns sure wasn’t pretty and it included the visiting team being penalized 13 times for 144 yards on the road. After the game was over, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was sure to highlight those penalties as being the primary reason why the game was likely closer than it should have been.
“We were highly penalized today and we’ve got to be better with our hands and eyes and feet relative to our positions,” Tomlin said during his post game press conference. “So, we’ll get back in the lab and work hard in those areas. I really thought that was the story of the game in terms of us with our lack of execution.
“I thought our offensive drives got stopped because of penalties. I thought our defensive drives got extended because of penalties and when you’re doing that, you’re going to keep people in the game. So, we’re not making excuses, we’re not blaming anyone, we got to perform better from a technical standpoint to stay clean so we don’t stop ourselves.”
The Steelers incurred six offensive penalties during their Sunday win and rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had two of them called on him and both were for holds. Center Maurkice Pouncey and tight end Vance McDonald were also both flagged for holding on Sunday and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was also penalized for a delay of game.
While Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell didn’t have great game carrying the football Sunday as he finished with 32 yards on 10 totes, Tomlin wasn’t ready to blame that on him holding out all of training camp and the preseason.
“We were out of sync because we were behind the chains,” Tomlin said when asked if Bell was out of sync Sunday against the Browns. “When you get highly penalized and you’re working that first and 15, or second and 15, man, you’re not going to have a great running game. You can write whatever story you want to write about – his missing preseason and all of that. The bottom line is, we got highly penalized. It put us behind the chains and it minimized the running game. Write that, because that’s what happened.”
Bell and rookie running back James Conner combined to rush for 43 yards against the Browns on 14 total carries. Bell also caught three passes in the game for 15 yards.