Mike Tomlin called the league's officiating "a joke." He probably won't find the league's response to his remarks funny -- especially after he indicated on Tuesday that he didn't expect to be fined.
On Wednesday, Tomlin got fined. According to USA Today's Jarrett Bell and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the NFL fined the Steelers coach $25,000 for his criticism of officials, which came after the Steelers' win over the Falcons on Sunday.
During his press conference, Tomlin, who was likely irritated by a questionable roughing-the-passer call that went against T.J. Watt, called for the league to "get better."
"But some of the other stuff, man, is a joke," Tomlin told reporters. "We gotta get better as a National Football League. Man, these penalties are costing people games and jobs. We gotta get 'em correct. And so I'm pissed about it, to be quite honest with you. But that's all I'm gonna say on it."
On Tuesday, Tomlin stood by his remarks.
"I said what I said after the game," he said, per USA Today. "I meant it, but I have no further comment."
Tomlin's hardly the first coach to express discontent with the state of officiating. In the offseason, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said something similar about the new helmet rule -- a rule that has seldom been enforced through the first five weeks of the season.
"It's going to cost some people some jobs," Zimmer said at the time, via NFL.com. "Playoffs, jobs, the whole bit, I guess."
But most of the criticism has been reserved for the enforcement of roughing the passer after the league made the body-weight portion of the rule a point of emphasis. The first few weeks saw a sharp uptick in such flags, leading to the competition committee, of which Tomlin is a member, to discuss the state of the rule during a conference call after Week 3. Following that call, the NFL announced that no changes would be made, but the eye test suggests that officials aren't calling roughing the passer as frequently since that discussion.
That being said, Watt really did get screwed on Sunday.
WARNING: Gruesome roughing the passer tackle by T.J Watt 👀 pic.twitter.com/qGnN2cIEGs— 360°FantasyFootball (@360FFB) October 7, 2018
The good news is that the Steelers won in a landslide anyway, so the penalty hardly mattered. With the win, the Steelers improved to 2-2-1. They're still in the basement of the AFC North, but SportsLine's playoff projections will bump their playoff chances above 50 percent if they can beat the Bengals on Sunday.
To do that, the Steelers will need to clean up their game. They lead the league in penalties with 49 for 459 yards -- 46 more yards than the next closest team. The Steelers can't blame their sloppiness on the officials alone. They're also sabotaging themselves all on their own.