Steelers Notebook: Lack of penalties has LBs outraged
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Penalties were kept to a relative few Saturday night, but apparently that's what bothered some Steelers the most -- too few penalties.
The Jaguars had six penalties for 40 yards and the Steelers five for 50.
Linebacker Larry Foote intimated that a huge hole in the Steelers' defense that quarterback David Garrard ran through for 32 yards on fourth down to set up Jacksonville's winning field goal came about for reasons other than good blocking.
Foote complained to officials on the field and it was the only topic he broached briefly in the locker room before leaving.
"You'll see a big old hole open up, and you'll see the reason why. That's all I've got to say. Thank you."
Steelers linebackers were upset by what they felt were non-calls, particularly holding by the Jaguars.
"I'm the wrong person to interview," Clark Haggans said. "You might want to interview the referees. Plain and simple, that's it. I don't have anything else to say besides that."
Said James Harrison, "I have nothing to say about that. I ain't got no fine money to give away for talking about them blind refs, so I got nothing to say."
Coach Mike Tomlin did not second-guess himself for trying a 2-point conversion after the Steelers scored their second touchdown of the fourth quarter.
With 10:25 left, Heath Miller caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to cut Jacksonville's lead to 28-23. Tomlin ordered his team to go for 2 to put them within a field goal of tying.
Roethlisberger hit Hines Ward in the back of the end zone to convert, but center Sean Mahan was penalized for holding on the play.
That put the ball at the 12, and Tomlin again opted to go for 2 from there. Roethlisberger tried a quarterback draw and was stopped inside the 5.
"We tried to score a 2-point conversion from the 10-I-don't-know-what yard line," Ward said. "That's hard for any team to do."
When the Steelers scored a third touchdown in the quarter on Najeh Davenport's run with 6:21 left, it put them up by a point. Tomlin opted to go for 2 again to try to put them up by three, but the pass fell incomplete.
Had the Steelers kicked the point after each touchdown, they would have gone up by three anyway and the Jacksonville field goal by Josh Scobee with 37 seconds left would have tied the score, not won the game.
"The first one?" Tomlin asked about the first 2-point try. "It was insignificant if we got the one [point]. Playing the charts, that is not out of bounds. That's just baseball. Everybody has that chart."
Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio said he was surprised Tomlin went for 2 from the 12 after the penalty.
"I wasn't expecting that," Del Rio said. "We were responding accordingly, but on the headphones we thought that they'd forgo the 2-point conversion there. We all make our choices in what we think is best for our teams in those situations."
Said Tomlin about the 2-point conversion failures, "If I had a crystal ball and I knew we were going to lose by two, I probably would have kicked the extra point if that makes you feel good."
Roethlisberger made his first Pro Bowl after his best statistical season with the Steelers. When it comes to playoff games, however, he has done better on the road.
Roethlisberger is 4-0 away from Heinz Field in the playoffs -- all in 2005 when he helped lead the Steelers to victory in Super Bowl XL.
He is 1-2 in Heinz Field playoff games. In those home games, Roethlisberger has thrown eight interceptions and five touchdown passes, and has a 69.1 passer rating.
Away from Heinz Field in those four postseason games, Roethlisbeger threw seven touchdown passes and three interceptions, and had a 101.7 passer rating.
Roethlisberger also lost a fumble when he was sacked near the end of the game. All four Steelers turnovers came at his hand.
"We definitely didn't help ourselves with the turnovers," Ward said.
Rashead Mathis returned Roethlisberger's first interception 63 yards for a touchdown that put Jacksonville ahead, 14-7, early in the second quarter.
"The interception -- I think momentum went back to Jacksonville," Ward said.
Ward had 10 catches, tying his postseason high, for 135 yards, his most prolific playoff game. It was his first 100-yard game of the season. Ward's 31-yard reception on the first drive of the game was his longest of the season. ... The Steelers have lost the past two postseason games at Heinz Field. ... Chuck Noll remains the only Steelers coach to win his first playoff and he needed a miracle for that -- the Immaculate Reception in 1972. ... Rookie linebacker LaMarr Woodley's two sacks led the team; Harrison had 1 1/2.
First Published January 7, 2008 12:00 am