Steelers coach Tomlin bans celebratory somersaults after TDs
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is again playing the role of stern adult who teaches a lesson by taking away a privilege.
Last week, it was pool and shuffleboard from the locker room. This week, it's potentially injurious somersaulting into the end zone, as Emmanuel Sanders and Le'Veon Bell did with flair, if not precision, the past two weeks.
“It's a potential for injury,” Tomlin said. “It's silly.”
Then again, maybe it's a leap of faith for Tomlin to invoke a touchdown celebration ban during a week the desperate-as-it-gets Steelers (1-4) play the rival Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at Heinz Field in a game neither AFC North team can afford to lose.
Getting into the end zone against the Ravens has been extremely difficult for the Steelers, no matter how they tried to get there — by land, by air or by a Mary Lou Retton-like back flip.
During the past five seasons, when both teams won a Super Bowl and averaged double-digit wins, the Steelers scored just 16 touchdowns in 10 regular-season games against Baltimore. By comparison, they totaled 10 more against the Bengals and nine more against the Browns.
Even with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback for most of their 18 games against Baltimore since his 2004 rookie season, the Steelers scored more than two touchdowns only twice. Seven times, they've been held to a touchdown or less.
“It's always a physical game,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday on his radio show. “It's tough. It's as taxing mentally as it is physically. After the game, your body feels like it's been in a hundred car wrecks. Usually, you sit down — win or lose — and you just take a deep sigh.”
Or kind of like the Steelers did when they finally won, beating the Jets, 19-6, on Sunday to preserve the faint sliver of hope they can still make something of a season that couldn't have started much worse.
The only problem is, they've put themselves in such a hole that they probably need to go on an extended winning streak — and during what arguably is their toughest stretch of the season.
They've dropped three of their last four to Baltimore, including two straight at home. The following two weeks, they play at Oakland (2-4), where they were upset they past two times they played, and New England (5-1), which has won seven of 10 from them since 1998.
With 19 players on his roster who haven't played for the Steelers in what is often called the NFL's best rivalry, Tomlin plans to educate them on what a Ravens game is like — even the rare one in which neither team has a winning record.
“They're a talented, capable team led by superstars in all three phases, and they're the defending world champs,” Tomlin said. “They don't need an endorsement from me. ... This is going to be (typical) Steelers-Ravens on Sunday, I'm sure.”
The Ravens have dropped two of three and are in danger of slipping two games behind the Bengals (4-2) in the division if they lose.
“Hopefully, the winning is contagious,” Roethlisberger said. “Hopefully, the attitude carries over. Right now, we're not sitting here thinking about the win on Sunday. Right now, we're moving forward.”
Even if, because of the Tomlin ban, it's not by leaps and bounds.