Safety Troy Polamalu came up with two of the biggest plays of the game in the Steelers win over the Cincinnati Bengals, yet he was still apologizing afterwards because of a lateral following his second interception of the game.
Polamalu intercepted Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer right before the two-minute warning at the 12-yard line, and pitched it back to Bryant McFadden.
"First and foremost, I want to apologize for that play," said Polamalu. "It was incredibly arrogant and selfish and foolish of me. I represent something bigger than myself … my faith, my family and this team. I'll try not to ever let that happen again."
Coach Mike Tomlin addressed the play when he was asked about it during his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
"We desire to educate our guys in situation football," said Tomlin. "It wasn't a good situation football maneuver. It was a two score game, there were two minutes left to go, we had gained possession of the football, we had a red-zone stop. So I think that is pretty self explanatory, that possession of the ball pretty much ensures a victory. He put the possession of the ball at stake with the lateral. His reaction pretty much sums up the situation."
While no damage whatsoever came from the play, Tomlin is hoping that it serves as a lesson for all the players.
"It is something also to learn from and that is what you try to do this time of year when things come up such as that lateral, particularly when it doesn't prevent you from winning," said Tomlin. "I think it is a great teaching tool moving forward, similar to the muffed punt by Antonio Brown. We were leading in the football game, the punt falls short, it is rolling around and what we want is possession of the football. It was too risky of a maneuver under the circumstances. So I always, as a coach, try to look at situations like that that occur in a football game to use as a teach tool for our team moving forward. It creates personal discomfort for the men involved, but I think we are all better for it and those types of things happen in every football game. You hope they don't get you beat, but when they do happen you do have an opportunity to use it as a teach tool moving forward and that is what I always try to do in those circumstances."
A familiar face will be back at Heinz Field when the Steelers host the New York Jets on Sunday. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes, the Steelers first-round pick in 2006, was traded to the Jets in April for a fifth-round draft pick.
Holmes, who was suspended the first four games of the season, has 41 receptions for 620 yards and four touchdowns this season.
"Santonio is a great route runner, he is very good after the catch, he has strong hands and those things are X receiver like," said Tomlin of how the Jets are using Holmes. "He's capable of creating yards after the catch and individual route running. So anytime you have a guy of his talents you are going to utilize him in similar ways because of his skill set."
Holmes spent four seasons with the Steelers, including winning MVP honors for Super Bowl XLIII, and while letting go of a player is never easy, it's part of the game.
"Those decisions come around every year and we are going to do what is best for our football team," said Tomlin. "That decision being one of them. We realized that we were potentially weakening ourselves at the wide receiver position but we were very optimistic about what Mike Wallace was capable of. We also knew that what we got in exchange for him would probably strengthen us in another position; of course we eventually used that pick to get Bryant McFadden at starting corner for us.
"Those are the normal decisions that go on in our business, particularly in the off season when you are talking about building your football team, usually it involves weakening you in one area and possibly strengthening you in another area. Those are the things that you weigh when you make not only that decision but when you make any decision that is personnel related."