PITTSBURGH — Like so many NFL games in recent memory, the Steelers’ 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks turned on a critical replay review by the officials.
A new twist on this decision — that went in favor of the visiting Seattle Seahawks — was the kind of call that was being reviewed.
For the first time, NFL coaches are permitted to challenge pass interference this season as part of a new rule that was put into place in reaction to a missed defensive pass interference call against the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018 NFC Championship Game.
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll actually challenged two pass interference calls on Sunday, but it was the second one that was crucial.
Right after the Steelers scored to make it a one-score game with 11:16 to play, the Seahawks started a drive that was immediately beset by penalties. Germain Ifedi was flagged for a false start. D.J. Fluker got caught holding. Suddenly, it was 2nd and 20, with the ball on Seattle’s 27.
That’s when quarterback Russell Wilson heaved up a long prayer to slot receiver Tyler Lockett, who was blanketed by Steelers safeties Terrell Edmunds and Kameron Kelly.
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) September 16, 2019
The ball hit the turf. The Seahawks lined up to call a 3rd and 20 running play and punt the ball back to Pittsburgh with all the momentum.
But Carroll’s challenge halted that momentum temporarily and then permanently once replay official Al Riveron ruled that Edmunds had interfered with Lockett.
Riveron explained his ruling to pool reporter Mark Kaboly of the Athletic:
“There were three or four TV angles that show us that there was clear and obvious visual evidence that the receiver was significantly hindered by the defender in his attempt to make a catch,” Riveron said.
Significance, is of course, a subjective matter. That’s part of the problem with reviewing subjective calls like pass interference, something the NFL has shied away from before now.
The Steelers disagreed with the level of significance, and the process in general. Head coach Mike Tomlin said he did not get an explanation for the call.
“I did not,” he said. “I disagree with it. I don’t believe any of us have an understanding what those standards are once those things go to replay. I don’t know.”
“It really doesn’t matter exactly what I think,” Edmunds said. “They made the call. Just a few plays after that, I have to make that play down in the end zone. You can’t really argue against the refs.”
Ah yes, the pass interference penalty put the Seahawks at the Steelers’ 35-yard line. But a mismatch two plays later put Edmunds on wide receiver DK Metcalf, and the big rookie made a play for a big touchdown.
“He made a good play,” Edmunds said. “He made a good catch. Russ put it in a good spot. He made a play right there. I’ve just got to fight through the hands even more.”
Seattle made a nice adjustment, as Steelers cornerback Steven Nelson had shut Metcalf down all day.
They lined up with three receivers to the left, with Metcalf inside of the tight end split to the boundary. Nelson covered the tight end, giving Metcalf a free release to get behind Edmunds.
After what Steven Nelson did on Metcalf all game long, in this crucial situation, Edmunds winds up covering him. Because the tight end is lined up outside and Metcalf in the slot. #InGameAdjustments #Steelers pic.twitter.com/XQ2HMymbKA
— Chris Halicke (@ChrisHalicke) September 16, 2019
The Steelers were able to score once more to again close the gap, but those two plays ended up having a large impact on the outcome.
The NFL’s policy of reviewing pass interference remains controversial, and that’s not likely to change any time soon.
Rooney: Steelers Plan to Return to St. Vincent for 2021 Training Camp
There is plenty that remains up in the air about the 2021 NFL offseason, but the Pittsburgh Steelers still have plans to resume one of their enduring traditions that was broken by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The Steelers were forced to forgo their trip to the campus of St. Vincent College near Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 2020 due to the NFL’s rules regarding keeping players isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s unclear how much those restrictions will change for the NFL teams this summer, but as things stand as of today, the Steelers are still making plans to return to the Laurel Highlands for the team’s annual training camp this summer.
“As we sit here today, our plan is to have training camp in Latrobe,” team president Art Rooney II said to Steelers.com on Friday. “We still have a ways to go to get there, but I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be able to happen. We’re still hopeful we’re going to have some form of offseason program, and it’s probably not going to start on time but I think it’s important particularly for the young players that we get back to having an offseason program and then a full training camp and preseason games. I think we need to have that to help the young players continue to develop.”
Displaced from their usual bucolic summer home and from UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side due to capacity limitations, the Steelers spent the 2020 training camp and preseason at Heinz Field.
NFL Network Analysts Call Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger 3rd-Best in AFC North
It appears that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is likely to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers, with both Roethlisberger’s agent and team president Art Rooney II making public statements that each party desires a return for 2021 this week.
But how much of a difference-maker will Roethlisberger be? That depends on his level of play this coming season.
NFL Network analysts and former NFL players Willie McGinest and LaDainian Tomlinson each ranked the quarterbacks of the AFC North and both said they think Roethlisberger is the third-best quarterback in the division, behind Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield.
“I’m not taking anything away from Ben,” McGinest said. “Lamar Jackson is special and I put Baker in front of Ben because of what we’ve seen in the progression of Baker the last couple of years. … I see him getting better and Ben fighting father time, with the skills diminishing just a little bit.”
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 25, 2021
“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve seen, in spurts, Big Ben play well. He started out hot. But he didn’t finish so well. … He looked old and beat up toward the end of the season. I’m just not sure that improves.”
Statistically, Roethlisberger finished first amongst the four AFC North passers in completion percentage, but he was fourth in yards per attempt and third in passer rating and QBR. Pro Football Focus ranked Roethlisberger last of the division’s four starters in 2020.
NFL Head Coach: Bud Dupree’s Injury Cause for Uncertainty Entering Free Agency
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree is set to hit free agency in a matter of weeks, but one head coach believes he could be waiting a while to sign.
Speaking with FanSided’s Matt Lombardo, an NFL head coach, speaking anonymously, said Dupree’s season-ending knee injury has made his free agency outlook uncertain.
“Bud Dupree is someone that is a real question mark for me,” the head coach told FanSided. “If he was healthy, he’s easily the top pass-rusher hitting the open market, and teams would pay a king’s ransom to sign him. But, with him coming off a torn ACL, what exactly are you committing to? Does he want to go back to Pittsburgh? Who knows, but he’s someone that I think will wind up having to wait a while to sign.”
Lombardo compares Dupree’s situation to Tennessee Titans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney last offseason.
While he had not suffered a significant injury the season prior with the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, Clowney signed with Tennessee on just a one-year, $12-million deal. He had been expected to be paid handsomely on a lengthier contract, which obviously did not come to fruition.
Clowney was virtually invisible for the Titans, recording no sacks in eight games before being placed on injured reserve in November.
Due to his torn ACL, Dupree could find himself having to settle on a cheaper, one-year “prove it” deal as well. Ideally he would then cash in during the 2022 free agency period is all goes as planned.
Dupree was having another stellar season before tearing his ACL in the Steelers’ Week 12 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He had eight sacks, eight tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hits and a pair of forced fumbles through eleven games.
After playing last season under the franchise tag, which paid Dupree $15.828 million, the Steelers’ dire salary cap situation will most likely prevent them from bringing him back. Still, the brass of the organization has expressed their desire to do so if circumstances were different.
While the knee injury remains a concern, Dupree shared he was ahead of schedule in his recovery when he joined NFL Network’s Good Morning Football late last month.