Steelers mistakenly awarded first down

December 21, 2010

Coach Mike Tomlin concedes the Steelers were mistakenly awarded a first down on a 9-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall during their 22-17 loss to the Jets on Sunday.

On first-and-10 from the Jets 35 early in the second quarter, Mendenhall gained 9 yards to the 26-yard line. After momentary confusion as the chain crew began moving the sticks, referee Peter Morelli's crew put the ball down at the 25 and signaled a first down.

The statistics crew hastily awarded Mendenhall a 10-yard carry - an extra yard that wound up giving him a 100-yard game. The Steelers went on to score a touchdown on Ben Roethlisberger's 9-yard pass to Matt Spaeth.

Mendenhall wound up with 100 yards on 17 carries, rather than the 99 he gained.

Tomlin said the Steelers benefited, but added that the spotting of the ball is always tricky, even if it shouldn't have been in this situation. CBS cameras clearly showed Mendenhall coming up short on the play.

''They spotted it as a first down and, in that situation, it worked in our favor so we moved on,'' Tomlin said. ''I did think he was a yard short.''

Mendenhall is seventh in the NFL with 1,173 yards rushing. He averages 83.8 yards per game.