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Penalties a growing issue for Steelers

Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Steelers defender Ryan Mundy kneels near Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin during third quarter action at Heinz Field Sunday, October 7, 2012. Mundy received a penalty on the play for helmet to helmet contact.

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The Steelers average the most penalties per game and penalty yards in the NFL this season:

Team Pen. yds Penalties

1. Steelers 86.5 9.2

2. Packers 78.0 8.0

3. Redskins 75.2 8.2

4. Seahawks 72.6 8.8

5. Ravens 72.6 8.4

6. Browns 70.4 7.2

31. Raiders 35.8 4.8

32. Falcons 25.4 3.2

Source: www.teamrankings.com

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Alan Robinson
Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, 8:08 p.m.
 

Coach Mike Tomlin coined the phrase “Don't hit the head, don't use the head” that is emphasized in a campaign by UPMC Sports Medicine and the Steelers to help reduce concussions in youth football.

Questions about hits to the head aren't one of Tomlin's favorite topics. At least they weren't Monday.

Tomlin grew testy when asked about his team's 106 yards in penalties Sunday against the Eagles.

“We're not going to dispute calls,” said Tomlin, who is aware that NFL coaches can be fined for any remarks deemed critical of game officials. “Those guys are doing the best they can, particularly in light of some of the instances that we have in today's NFL regarding player safety. We're trying our best to play within the rules, and it's disappointing for us when we don't.”

Tomlin added, “When you're picking up 30 yards in penalties on one drive, that's going to give people an opportunity to score. Obviously, we're trying to rectify those things.”

Asked if he had reviewed the penalty for Ryan Mundy's helmet-to-helmet hit on receiver Jeremy Maclin, Tomlin said, “Guys, I'm not disputing these penalties in here with you. I'll do it in the proper manner with the people at the league office if I have a beef. I'm not going to do it in here. That's unprofessional as far as I'm concerned.”

The Steelers' numerous penalties are becoming a concern. They have more than double the penalty yardage of their opponents, 346-172, and their penalty yardage exceeds their rushing yardage (331).

Their league-leading average of 86.5 yards per game in penalties is far above their average of 53.4 a year ago.

The Packers are tops with 390 penalty yards, but they have played one more game and their per-game average (78 yards) is lower than Pittsburgh's. But the Steelers have drawn at least eight penalties in every game and have 29 (for 294 yards) in their last three games.

Willie Colon, still adjusting from the switch from tackle to guard, was flagged four times for holding Sunday, although one was declined.

“That has been an issue with Willie at times, in terms of over-aggression,” Tomlin said. “But I'd rather say ‘Whoa' than ‘Sic 'em.' ”

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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