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Tomlin: Steelers ‘Beat Ourselves’ with Penalties against Raiders

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PITTSBURGH — aThe Pittsburgh Steelers had five penalties for 43 yards accepted in the team’s 26-17 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, and for head coach Mike Tomlin, the was too much.

Tomlin opened his postgame press conference by lamenting the number of penalties his team took, and said it’s an area that must be cleaned up before the Steelers take the field against the Cincinnati Bengals next week.

“I thought from a penalty standpoint, we hurt ourselves, positionally and so forth,” Tomlin said. “We didn’t play smart enough from a penalty standpoint.”

The five penalties accepted against the Steelers were an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Ray-Ray McCloud after a punt return, a holding penalty that negated a nice gain on JuJu Smith-Schuster, an unnecessary roughness penalty on Robert Spillane, a neutral zone infraction against Alex Highsmith and a false start by Diontae Johnson.

Holding is obviously subjective — and Spillane’s unnecessary roughness penalty certainly was — but three dead-ball penalties will really draw the ire of a coach.

“That can’t be a characteristic of our ball,” Tomlin’s said. “Part of being a tough team to beat is not beating yourselves. I thought we beat ourselves in the areas of penalty today.”

The Steelers also had starting right guard Trai Tuner ejected from the game while drawing offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Video replays showed Turner apparently spitting on a Las Vegas player.

Tomlin said that Turner was spit on himself before responding and the he didn’t deserve to be the only one ejected from the game.

As far as Spillane’s penalty, he said he didn’t want to hurt Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, but the fact that Carr was still trying to make moves and advanced the ball put him in a difficult situation.

“It’s a very tough spot,” Spillane said. “I don’t want to hit him, but at the same time, he’s still running the ball. He’s running, making jukes, trying to get extra yards. I tried to get my head off to the side. There’s no intention to try to hit a sliding quarterback.”

Spillane and Highsmith’s penalties helped the Raiders to a second-quarter field goal drive.

The Steelers were penalized just once against Buffalo in the season opener, so the hope can be that Sunday’s impactful flags won’t become a trend.

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