No surprise: The Steelers were penalized eight times for 60 yards against the Ravens, something Coach Mike Tomlin was asked about during his weekly press conference. While Tomlin never approves of penalties, the number called didn't come as a surprise to him based on the officiating crew. "A lot of things weigh into the penalties," said Tomlin. "We had Walt (Anderson) and that crew last weekend. It's a widely known fact that crew throws more penalties than most crews in football. We talked openly in preparation for the game about it. Eight per se doesn't necessarily describe our quality of play. We knew Walt and his crew call it tight and they did. I wasn't displeased about our execution from that perspective knowing those variables."
Second chance:** Eli Rogers was inactive for the Ravens game after a bad day at the office one week earlier. Rogers struggled against the Bears in the punt return game, fumbling a punt that was recovered by Chicago and eventually led to a touchdown.
"He put the ball on the ground the other week in the punt return game, one of his chief roles," said Tomlin. "That is one of the chief reasons he is a participant. I wanted to give him a week off from that and re-establish some good fundamentals in that area. That provided an opportunity for Justin Hunter. When you took punt return off his menu that opened the discussion of who added more value in that matchup between him and Hunter."
Tomlin did say, though, that Rogers will have an opportunity to earn back his role.
"We will see how the week goes," said Tomlin. "I will give him an opportunity. I told him it's not a firing, it's a re-centering. He had a good week last week. I am sure he is excited about getting back out there tomorrow. He will be given an opportunity like everyone else is. Decisions that we made a week ago were for that game and putting us in the best position to win that game. I am open to roles changing and evolving as we prepare this week."
Catching their attention:** Mike Hilton is emerging as a player who is surprising some with the quick impact he is making on the Steelers' defense, but Tomlin isn't one of those who is surprised. Hilton caught Tomlin's eye at Ole Miss because he wore No. 38, the number worn at the school by Chuckie Mullins, who was paralyzed when he broke his neck in a game in 1989. Hilton won the Chucky Mullins award while at Ole Miss, and with that came the distinction of wearing No. 38 his senior season.
"Mike is a guy we have a lot of respect for," said Tomlin. "We saw Mike play a lot in the evaluation of Senquez Golson. Mike is a unique guy. He wore No. 38 at Ole Miss. He wore the Chuckie Mullins jersey. Anyone that knows anything about Ole Miss football…the guys that they recognize with that jersey it speaks to their football character and the way they play the game. If you follow college football you understand that element of it.
"Anybody wearing No. 38 for Ole. Miss is going to get your attention. That was the first way he got our attention. We were able to follow him and do business with him and he is doing some good things."
Take it away: Sunday is going to be a match-up of two teams who are aggressive on defense, both with a consistent ability to create turnovers.
The Steelers currently hold the longest streak of most consecutive games with a takeaway at 14 games, dating back to the 2016 season. The Jacksonville Jaguars are the next closest team with an eight-game streak. This is the Steelers longest streak since they had 15 straight games with a takeaway in the 2004-05 seasons. Last week against the Ravens the Steelers had three takeaways, a fumble recovery by Cameron Heyward, and two fourth quarter interceptions, one by Ryan Shazier and the other by Mike Hilton.
"I can't say enough about the fourth quarter turnovers we were able to get," said Tomlin. "Turnovers are one thing, but to create negativity in the significant moments of the game, to get those game altering plays. Huge plays in the football game."