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Tomlin takes high road on Seymour hit, penalties

Trying to set an example for his players, Mike Tomlin refused to get drawn into any talk Tuesday regarding the NFL's emphasis on player safety and how it has impacted the Steelers.

What may be construed as a reluctance by Tomlin to publicly stand up for his players is something entirely different to the fourth-year coach.

As Tomlin sees it, talk about penalties and fines and the NFL's scales of justice can only distract the Steelers, who are 7-3 after a get-well win over the Raiders. His team visits the Bills this Sunday.

"We're not going to get overly concerned about the penalties or the nature and the state of the NFL in terms of how things are being officiated," Tomlin said at his weekly news conference. "All we're going to do is play the game extremely hard, play as fairly as we can, play within the rules and play to win. Those are the things that are at the forefront of my mentality, those are the things I want at the forefront of the team's mentality. Those are the things that we can control."

What the Steelers haven't been able to control is how the NFL has meted out punishment since it started cracking down on what it deems dangerous hits.

Outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley could find out as early as today if they get fined for the third and second time, respectively, since the league renewed its emphasis on player safety.

Harrison and Woodley were each penalized for roughing the passer in the Steelers' 35-3 win over the Raiders. Those were among the 14 penalties assessed against the Steelers for a team-record 163 yards.

A game that lurched rather than flowed because of all the penalties may represent growing pains that are inevitable.

Commissioner Roger Goodell is overseeing what he has called a "culture change" in the NFL, and officials have been told by the league to err on the side of player safety when throwing penalty flags.

That directive may have resulted in three questionable calls against the Steelers on Sunday, including the personal foul penalties on Harrison and Woodley.

What has since enraged Steelers fans and burned up sports-talk radio lines is the $25,000 fine the NFL gave Raiders defensive end Richard Seymour for slugging quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the face.

Seymour got ejected from the game, and afterward, Harrison said the league should consider suspending Seymour. Seymour's fine, as it turned out, is only a third of what the NFL docked Harrison for a helmet to helmet hit that helped lead to the stricter enforcement of a rule that prohibits hitting a defenseless player above the neck.

When asked about Seymour's punishment after he extolled the virtues of the 2-8 Bills during the prologue to yesterday's Q&A session, Tomlin said, "I don't have a reaction. I tend to focus on the things that are relevant to our team moving forward and the things that we can control, and that doesn't fall into either category, really."

Tomlin did allow that he was pleased with how Roethlisberger's teammates came to his defense after Seymour lost his poise.

"I'm excited about the way that they responded. That's part of being good teammates. They're going to protect one another, particularly when they think someone's been wronged, that's just human nature," Tomlin said. "These guys work extremely hard together, they're close personally and professionally, so why should we be surprised about the type of response that occurred Sunday. It's very natural."

Additional Information:

Notable hits

The Steelers could find out as early as today how many of their players received fines from a penalty-marred win over the Raiders on Sunday. Here are some of the fines the Steelers' defensive players have incurred this season:

Outside linebacker James Harrison

• Fined $5,000 for unnecessary roughness after body slamming Titans quarterback Vince Young in a Sept. 19 game

• Fined $75,000 for helmet to helmet hit on Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi in an Oct. 17 game

• Fined $20,000 for roughing the passer penalty on Drew Brees in an Oct. 31 game

Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley

• Fined $12,500 for roughing the passer penalty on Tom Brady on Nov. 14

Cornerback Ike Taylor

• Fined $10,000 for fighting with Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks in an Aug. 21 preseason game

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