Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Anticipates Fine for ‘Telling the Truth’ About Refs

Mike Tomlin

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers calls out to head linesman Mark Hittner during a game against the Seattle Seahawks at Heinz Field on October 17, 2021.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 23-20 on Sunday Night Football in Week 6.

But they might not have needed overtime to earn their hard-fought victory, except for an officiating blunder at the tail end of regulation, one that got Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin very visibly upset.

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Setting the Scene at Heinz Field

The play that had Tomlin apoplectic—on the field and after the game—occurred with just seconds left in the fourth quarter, when Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith completed a pass to D.K. Metcalf at Pittsburgh’s 26-yard line. Metcalf promptly fumbled on a hit by second-year Steelers cornerback James Pierre, and the fumble was recovered by Seattle wide receiver Freddie Swain with 11 seconds remaining.

But because the clock was running and the Seahawks were out of timeouts, Seattle’s offense had a mere ten seconds to spike the ball to stop the clock and enable a last-second field goal, one that would tie the game at 20-20. The Seahawks may or may not have spiked the ball before the clock struck zero, but it didn’t matter, because the officials called for a review of whether Metcalf caught the pass from Smith, which he obviously did.

Following the review and official confirmation of the catch, Seattle was awarded extra seconds on the clock and had ample time to get their field goal unit ready to go. By virtue of placekicker Jason Myers converting the field goal, the Seahawks tied the game, which went to overtime.


Tomlin: ‘I’m Writing a Check to the League Office Tonight!’

“I hated it,” said Tomlin about the call for a review, per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “I cannot believe that game was stopped to confirm catch/no catch in that moment. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Except that’s not all Tomlin had to offer.

“It was an embarrassment,” he added, knowing that his public criticism of the officials would inevitably draw a hefty fine from the league office in New York.

According to Mike D. Asti, program director for Pittsburgh Sports Live, he was en route to the postgame press conferences on Sunday night when he overheard Tomlin yelling: “I’m telling the truth. I’m writing a check to the league office tonight!”

Of course, Tomlin would have been even more peeved about what transpired had Seattle won the game in overtime.

But with the victory, Pittsburgh raised its record to 3-3, and is now tied for last place in the AFC North with the Cleveland Browns, who were vanquished by the Arizona Cardinals, 37-14.

After a bye week on October 24, the Steelers return to action at Cleveland on October 31.

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