All the calls and plays Steelers fans should be furious about

Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin looks on during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

By Larry Brown.

 

Between calls by the referees, decisions by Mike Tomlin, and some of the plays committed by Steelers players, Pittsburgh fans have a lot to be furious about following the Steelers’ 23-16 loss to the Denver Broncos in the playoffs on Sunday.

The Steelers were up 10-9 at halftime, leading 13-9 in the third quarter, and they were going in for a score to extend their lead late in the fourth before a fumble changed everything. On top of that, a missed call by the officials also hurt them.

Let’s take a look at some of the plays, calls and decisions that should have Steelers fans upset.

Aqib Talib gets away with pass interference

In the third quarter, the Steelers were up 10-9 and had the ball at the Denver 10. On a 3rd-and-5 play Ben Roethlisberger passed to Martavis Bryant in the end zone. Bryant was covered by Aqib Talib, who made contact before the ball arrived. No pass interference was called.

Had that been called, the Steelers would have had a first down from the 1.

Mike Tomlin chooses to punt from Denver 34-yard line

Early in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh was leading 13-12 and driving. A sack, facemask penalty and negative run made it 2nd (and eventually third) and 30 for the Steelers. They ended up with a 4th-and-20 from the Denver 34. They had three choices: go for it, which would have been difficult to convert; attempt a 51-yard field goal; or punt. Tomlin decided to take the delay of game penalty, move back to the 39 and punt. Kicker Chris Boswell only had three misses on the season: from 47, 41 and 48. He made both of his attempts from 51 this season. Field goal distance isn’t as much of an issue from the high altitude in Denver, but Tomlin still opted to punt.

Peyton Manning gives himself up

This was one of the biggest misses by the referees in the game. In the fourth quarter the Steelers were up 13-12. Denver had a 1st-and-10 at their 20. Manning felt the pressure and took a dive, essentially giving himself up. But realizing he hadn’t been touched, he got back up and completed a pass to Emmanuel Sanders who went 34 yards to the Steelers 46. Had the officials ruled Manning down (Tomlin tried to challenge but the judgement call wasn’t reviewable), Denver would have had a second and long from inside their 15, which would have potentially shifted field position, making it easier for the Steelers to score.

Fitzgerald Toussaint’s fumble

Also questionable: Big Ben throwing to the end zone on a 4th-and-1 play from the Denver 32 early in the game.

Roethlisberger taking a sack on 4th-and-5 in the final minutes, which took away the team’s best chances of a comeback. Even if he just threw the ball away, Denver wouldn’t have had an easy shot at a field goal to go up 10.

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