Tomlin not crying over officials’ error
Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop misses the possible game-winning field goal during the final seconds against San Diego Sunday. The NFL said Monday the officiating crew erred for not penalizing the Chargers for having too many men on the right side of the ball at the line of scrimmage. San Diego’s win elimated the Steelers from playoff contention.
PITTSBURGH – Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin watched the events of the Kansas City at San Diego game unfold Sunday night in his basement with his two sons.
And according to Tomlin, he immediately recognized that the Chargers were in an illegal formation when Kansas City placekicker Ryan Succop pushed a potential game-winning 41-yard field goal attempt wide to the right with four seconds remaining.
San Diego went on to win the game, 27-24, in overtime, sending the Chargers into the playoffs at 9-7 and ending the Steelers’ season at 8-8.
What did Tomlin say as the foul was occurring?
“I’ll leave that between myself, my sons and our basement,” Tomlin said.
The NFL issued a statement Monday that said referee Bill Leavy’s crew erred in not penalizing the Chargers five yards for having too many men on the right side of the ball at the line of scrimmage, a violation of a new rule instituted this season to help increase player safety. The Chargers overloaded the right side of the line with seven players.
“On the play, San Diego lined up with seven men on one side of the snapper,” the NFL said in a statement. “This should have been penalized as an illegal formation by the defense.
“The penalty for illegal formation by the defense is a loss of five yards. This rule is not subject to instant replay review. Had the penalty been assessed, it would have resulted in a fourth-and-7 from the San Diego 18 with 0:04 remaining, enabling the Chiefs to attempt a 36-yard field goal.”
Leavy’s crew also blew a play dead on a fake punt by the Chargers in overtime as Eric Weddle continued to fight forward for yardage. The Chiefs stripped Weddle of the ball and returned it for a touchdown.
Former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira tweeted Sunday night that he felt the play should not have been blown dead and the fumble and touchdown should have stood.
Game officials have made a number of crucial errors this season, and Tomlin, who is a member of the league’s competition committee, feels those issues will be addressed in the offseason.
“Obviously, there is a lot of work that needs to be done from an officiating standpoint,” Tomlin said. “I think it has been played out and well-documented over the last several weeks, not only in the stadiums we have played in but others. I look forward to being part of the process of helping it improve. I think that’s the mentality that we all should have. We are all blessed to be a part of the NFL. I take a great deal of pride in that. I always want to be somebody that is part of the solution as opposed to someone that is complaining and moaning about the problem.”
Had Succop made a second field goal attempt or the touchdown upheld, the Steelers, who had beaten the Browns, 20-7, earlier in the day and also gotten help with Miami and Baltimore losing, would now be preparing for a playoff game Sunday in Cincinnati rather than holding season-ending meetings and reviews.
“We stepped into 16 stadiums this year with an opportunity to state our case, and we didn’t state a strong enough case, so I am not going to lose a lot of sleep over something that went on in a stadium that we weren’t even in,” Tomlin said. “We had plenty of opportunities to state our case. What transpired was unfortunate for our hopes moving forward, but we have to find a way to accept that and move forward.”
The Steelers’ 6-2 record in the second half of the season was the best in the AFC and second in the NFL only to the Carolina Panthers, who went 7-1.
But after a second consecutive 8-8 non-playoff season, Tomlin will now begin the process of evaluating the coaching staff. He wasn’t ready to make any statements about who would or wouldn’t be returning but sounded more pleased with this season than he was after 2012, when the Steelers were 6-3 and finished 8-8.
“There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about what transpired when you look at it over the course of the season,” Tomlin said. “It just speaks to the men that we work with. I learned a lot about them and sometimes you learn a lot about yourself and the people that you work with in the midst of adversity. We had enough adversity, obviously.
“Starting 0-4 and being 2-6 at the turn, it’s encouraging to know the type of men that you work with that are capable of getting singularly focused and tuning out the noise and staying together and continuing to work and improve in the midst of negativity. All of those things are encouraging. But at the same time, as I look back at the body of work, and that’s what the beginning of this process is, you’ve got to acknowledge we are what we are and that’s an 8-8 football team on the outside looking in at the tournament.”
Odds and end zones
Cornerback Curtis Brown will have surgery Friday to repair a torn ACL. Brown has spent the past month on injured reserve but had to wait for his injured MCL to heal before he could undergo surgery. … Tomlin said Kelvin Beachum acquitted himself well this season at left tackle but that he wants to see continued improvement. … The Steelers have the 15th pick in the NFL draft.