Tomlin Says Bell, Running Game Out Of Sync In Opener Due To Penalties

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.

  • Kevin artis

    Tomlin is not going to throw his star running back under the bus

  • John Pennington

    Bens balls didnt have zip today took along time to get to the receiver.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    Tomlin previously mentioned consequences of Bell not being in camp. The running game being out of sync is what he meant. The O-Line can’t re-calibrate their timing with Bell’s running style if he is not at practice. I think it will take another 3 games for them to regain the chemistry that they had last year.

  • Doogie

    Wasn’t a good showing, mostly due to penalties. And the O-Line didn’t block that well. Lets see what happens next week..

  • ryan72384

    The holding penalties were killers. Everytime we had a positive run or even that one catch by AB it was called back by holding. He’s right when you start 1st and 15 or 1st and 20 that destroys rhythm.

  • You can also write about the play calling. I’m not one to bitch about Haley. But today is justified. Some of those play calls were passes behind the line, on the line & 2 yds beyond the line of scrimmage. 3rd & 21, Ben in shotgun, hands off to RB.. as usual steelers play conservative & down to lesser opponents. But hey a win is a win & Ben performed well on the road. That 1 pass a foot or 2 higher & Bryant has a td. So chalk this up to an extended preseason game. On to the Vikings with a better prlerformance next week. 1-0

  • Luneth Gardens

    This seems to be the narrative every year from Tomlin the first quarter/half of the season…penalties. Well, you’re the coach and it happens every year. Do something about it. 7 sacks and the game was this close? Only the Steelers.

  • Nolrog

    The running game was out of sync because the line didn’t open any holes. Can’t even blame Bell’s hold out; he really didn’t have much room to do much at all.

  • cencalsteeler

    When you bubblewrap the preseason, this is what you get.

  • derp_diggler

    Nonsense. That first TD to James was a laser.. Zip was not his problem today, but he was a bit off on his throws and the pick looked to be a really poor decision.

  • Jtgibs

    Take those screen passes and give bell the ball instead.

  • John Phillips

    And Conners ?

  • John Phillips

    Totally agree, in the first half from TV perspective it seem like Ben would pass the ball when there was all kind of people in the secondary and run the ball when they were all kind of Browns on the line.

  • Ken Krampert

    Ya, zip on the ball isn’t Ben’s problem. Inaccuracy and poor decisions are. Even the throw to AB on the last drive was ill advised, but AB saved the day. When you boil it all down, Ben has to be better for us to dominate. The penalties will reduce, LB and MB will get in sync , but if Ben doesn’t get more accurate and stop the bad throws, we won’t be in position later in the year for the kind of record we will need going into the tough part of our schedule.

  • Tracy L Trent

    Bell should have been in camp and preseason…sugar coat it…deflect it else where whatever…there is no i in team…the team gels when they practice together…..he wasnt there…..watson should have had some snaps

  • nd fan

    I think this shows how much a running back is worth if there is no where to run, please don’t pay to much to any runner, look at what all the rookies did this weekend, runners can be had for less than 10mill. and be good enough to win, deAngello always had good games in Bells absence.

  • VaDave

    I agree. Cleveland’s defensive front is no joke and vastly improved. Our OL created little movement, and I don’t recall much of our counter and trap blocking if any. From what I could tell, it looked like a lot of drive blocking, which is not DeCastro or Pouncey’s strong suit.

  • “WC”

    Many fans have indicated that the Steelers play down to their competition, which usually results in a defeat, and they they have to play catch-up to make the playoffs. I might be wrong, but in my opinion Haley needs to be up in the booth so that he can see what’s going on better.

    I was looking at this game as a trap game, (which it almost was). Most of you knew without a doubt there were going to be penalties and plenty of them. Against the Steelers of course. However this time they came out on top for a change. For the life of me I simply can’t understand why the Steelers feel that they are going to get a fair shake like New England, because that won’t happen. Penalties and so many of them, really throws your team out of sync. It helps the team you’re playing, it causes frustrations and anger, it gives the other team momentum, and if you’re not careful, you could lose a game because if it.

    With that said, I am concerned about Big Ben as many of you are also. He is an elite QB with the best of them. Today they needed all phases to pull off the win, because Ben usually doesn’t play well on the road. Today was a wake-up call for the coaches and players to shore up the things that, almost got them off to a rough start.

    If it is your desire to be the number one seed, you must win the games you are supposed to win, period!

    We all understand this is a journey. Maybe the fans realize it more than they are given credit for. They (the Steelers) can win the Superbowl, if they want it bad enough. Meaning that the journey also involves the fans as well. The AFC north is a knock down drag out conference. I saw where the Ravens smacked the Bengals today. I don’t remember when the Bengals were last shut out. Past reputations and titles mean nothing in today’s NFL. It is in fact a what-have-you-done for me lately scenario.

    The Ravens blanked the Bengals. The Steelers squeaked by the Browns. The team that was more impressive was the Ravens. All this talk about it being a down year for them just didn’t make any sense to me. Today’s showing is just a sample of what is to come.

    Each game, win or lose is sort of like the NCAA tournament. One game elimination. Win you go on. Lose you go home. Except this isn’t a college tournament. This is the NFL. Every game is crucial.

    Maybe not on the same one game elimination as the NCAA, but still it requires you to win as many games as you can to be able to play in the playoffs. Seeding is important. Playing at home increases your chances a bit. However even the best of teams can loose home playoff games and the Steeler’s history indicates that.

    Many members of this year’s team want that 7th title and are prepared to give it all they’ve got to make that happen. This is only the first game and they should be happy to escape with the win as I’m sure they are.

    This is a taste of what lies ahead, so be ready for a roller coaster ride.

  • Alan Tman

    So why didn’t Conner do anything. He was in camp.

  • Alan Tman

    This O-line starts slow every year. Anyone remember them getting their butts kicked in Philadelphia last year in game #2? Be glad we won because the defense was on the field way too long. That’s my only complaint with Haley. He never takes time of possession into account. The offense doesn’t get on the field until the quarter is about half way over, and he doesn’t run the ball once??? He didn’t run the ball until the last play of the first quarter. Samething in Miami last year. He let the defense get worn down because he kept throwing the ball in 85 degree heat. Way too many three and outs.

  • Steve

    You got to take what the Defense gives you. Hard to run the ball when they stack the line with 7-8 men up. You are correct that our Oline starts out the year slow. Can remember last year them getting beat and Villy not looking too well. The Big reason is, its easier for the Defence to come at you and make adjustments, than it is for the offence. Especially when you have not tape on the team or players.

  • Steve

    With you on Watson getting snaps. Bell was not in “Football Shape” and we seen it. Don’t care what you do on your on, there is nothing that compares to being on the field of play.

  • Alan Tman

    Well we need to be more focused why a 90 million dollar offense can’t do exactly that.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    Bell predictably look like a person in his first week of football for the season. He wasn’t sharp, was out of position and looked slow and unprepared to be on the field.

    In short, while there were a number of issues, Bell hurt his team yesterday.