Steelers maintain profitable, however expensive penalties threaten long-term probabilities

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — A fourth-quarter offensive explosion pushed the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 24-17 win towards the Los Angeles Rams for his or her second-straight victory.

One other type of explosion nearly derailed them.

Knotted at 17-17 within the fourth quarter, the Steelers obtained the ball again after a suffocating three-and-out by the protection. On the primary play of the following drive, quarterback Kenny Pickett hit huge receiver George Pickens on a slant route for an 18-yard achieve. Dragged down by his undershirt by defensive again Russ Yeast after selecting up 12 yards after the catch, Pickens leapt up chirping. The second-year receiver leaned into Yeast, putting the highest of his helmet to Yeast's as he obtained within the defensive again's face and unleashed a tirade of trash discuss.

With out hesitation, an official threw a flag for taunting, lowering an 18-yard achieve to simply three yards after the spot foul.

The Steelers, who obtained a first-down on the play regardless of the penalty, averted compounding the error by ending that drive ultimately zone with a three-yard Najee Harris landing to take a 24-17 lead.

Pickens' taunting penalty was certainly one of two flagged towards the Steelers on Sunday, and whereas the Steelers escaped Los Angeles with a win, they misplaced the battle with their feelings — one thing they cannot afford to let snowball into a much bigger challenge as their crew operates on a razor skinny margin of error.

“Clearly we obtained to wash up some issues from a administration of our feelings, however I'd a lot moderately say, ‘Whoa' than ‘Sic 'em,'” coach Mike Tomlin stated after the win. “We obtained some guys which might be opponents. They simply obtained to compete within the acceptable and mature {and professional} approach. “We use it as a studying expertise. It is good to be taught whereas sitting at 4-2 versus 3-3.”

Pickens, who had 5 receptions for 107 yards for his first profession back-to-back 100-yard video games, wasn't the one Steeler receiver with a probably expensive taunting penalty. Needing a primary down on the ultimate drive to seal the win, Diontae Johnson, taking part in for the primary time since sustaining a hamstring damage Week 1, was flagged for holding a finger to his face masks in a shushing mime to cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon within the fourth quarter.

Witherspoon, a former Steeler cornerback, obtained known as for defensive move interference on a deep third-down move supposed for Johnson. The Steelers receiver shushed Witherspoon as he celebrated the flag, and an official standing close by watching the interplay promptly threw a flag of his personal.

“I did not actually do nothing, I simply type of went like this,” Johnson stated, holding a finger as much as his lips. “Ahkello Witherspoon, we're cool. However the refs would not know. It is simply a type of conditions I obtained to keep away from. Simply be good.”

A annoyed Johnson demonstratively reacted to the penalty, and Pickett shortly intervened to calm his receiver, placing an arm round him and main him again towards the Steelers' huddle. The penalties offset, and the Steelers once more sidestepped severe penalties for the penalty by narrowly selecting up their remaining first down two performs afterward a quarterback sneak to seal the win.

“Feelings are excessive,” stated Johnson, who had 5 catches for 79 yards. “You by no means know what can occur on the market. Everyone needs to be one of the best on the market and make these performs and like I stated, our feelings generally get one of the best of us, however that is not an excuse.

“That is only a matter of holding your head and figuring out easy methods to deal with the state of affairs on the market and simply maintain taking part in.”

Pickens obtained an identical message from his teammates and coaches when he got here to the sideline after his taunting penalty — his second 15-yard penalty of the afternoon after being whistled for a blindside block that worn out a 19-yard Johnson completion on the finish of the primary quarter.

Pickens stated he seen defenders taking part in him in a different way Sunday, purposefully making an attempt to rattle him and goad him into making these expensive errors.

Pickens has a historical past of being whistled for private fouls, incomes one in Week 1 towards the 49ers for pointless roughness after making a third-down nine-yard seize late within the blowout loss and final season for a late deal with on an onside kick try in a loss to the Bengals that earned him an ejection. Previous to his NFL profession, Pickens had a status for taking part in with an edge at Georgia. He was ejected in a sport towards Georgia Tech for throwing punches on the sphere.

“I really feel like, personally, simply going on the market, a sport like this confirmed me they're type of in search of me for attempt to mess up,” Pickens stated. “Guys are antagonizing me extra, as a result of at this time is the primary day I've seen something like that. Guys actually simply making an attempt to get me out of the sport or get below my pores and skin intentionally. So all I can actually say is simply maintain preventing arduous. That is all you are able to do in soccer.”

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Steelers convert controversial fourth all the way down to seal win over Rams

The referees rule that Steelers QB Kenny Pickett earns a primary down, however replays present he might have been quick, with the Rams unable to problem the decision.

Pickens stated he seen Rams gamers pushing him to the bottom and doing issues that he stated he is aware of he cannot reply to. Three weeks earlier, Tomlin chided his gamers for not being bodily sufficient in a loss to the Houston Texans, however Sunday towards the Rams, they have been a lot bodily — generally to their detriment. That is the picture Tomlin needs his crew to be in-built, the one they should manifest to compete in a bruising AFC North.

However for Pickens and the remainder of the Steelers, it is about discovering that excellent steadiness of preventing with an edge and being fueled by opponents' gamesmanship with out performing in a approach that is detrimental to the crew.

“It is robust,” Pickett stated. “You are strolling a fantastic line there with not getting overboard, however that is what makes these guys nice. That edge they play with. It is simply tone it again once we want us to dial in and discover a approach to win. So these guys are good gamers, man, they will determine it out and we are going to assist 'em by means of.”

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