For the first time since 2017, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin won a challenge on Monday night.
Tomlin successfully overturned the spot on a fourth-down run by Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick that gave the Steelers the ball instead of a Miami first down.
The play turned out to be pivotal, as the Steelers used the short field to set up a James Conner touchdown and put the game out of reach.
But Tomlin even though he got a good look at the play, Tomlin wasn’t exactly sure he’d get this one. After all, he couldn’t exactly have much confidence with 11 straight red flags getting handed back to him in a losing effort.
“I didn’t feel any better about that challenge than I do many of the ones that I lost,” Tomlin said on Tuesday. “I felt good about it, but I felt good about the ones that I’ve lost. So, you never know what you’re going to get.”
The one thing that did give Tomlin some confidence was that he was standing right at the first-down sticks when the play was run and he had a pretty good look at it with his own eyes before he saw the replay.
“I saw it from the field,” he said. “You know, sometimes when you’re on the field and you’re at the line to gain, you have a perspective. So, I didn’t necessarily need the replay. I was on field level.”
To put some context into how long it’s been since Tomlin won a challenge, it was also against the Dolphins — in the teams’ meeting in the playoffs after the 2016 season. That spot call was also overturned when then-Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (now with the New York Jets) was ruled short of the end zone after a tackle by Donald Butler and Terrence Fede, who are both now out of the NFL.
Since then, Tomlin lost challenges on a Tom Brady quarterback sneak, a Blake Bortles pass to Keelan Cole, a Ben Roethlisberger incomplete pass top Antonio Brown, a Dustin Colquitt punt being downed by the Kansas City Chiefs, a would-be interception on an Andy Dalton pass, another downed kick, this time by Sean Davis, a Lamar Jackson run, the spot on a Ryan Switzer catch, the spot on a Juju Smith-Schuster catch, yet another punt downed by the Patriots.
This season, for the first time, NFL coaches are allowed to challenge pass interference. Tomlin did so once, his only challenge prior to Monday this season, when he challenged an offensive pass interference penalty against Johnny Holton against the Seattle Seahawks.
He didn’t get that one, either.