Game changer: In a game where one play could have made a difference in the outcome, this was one that truly could have. But it didn’t go the way the Steelers believed it should have.
The Steelers were ahead, 21-7, with 8:52 to play in the fourth quarter. After a stalled drive, Jordan Berry’s punt appeared to hit off the helmet of the Browns’ Nick Chubb. An alert Sean Davis grabbed the ball out of the air, and it looked like it would be Steelers ball in good field position, at their own 47-yard line at the worst.
The officials thought otherwise, ruling that Davis simply downed the ball, and that it didn’t hit off of Chubbs. The Steelers challenged the call, and without ‘definitive evidence’, the call was upheld.
Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t agree with the officials ruling, but said it’s not something they can dwell on.
“I am not asking for explanations,” said Tomlin. “The way I look at it is it’s an opportunity for us to grow. Sometimes things happen in football that are outside of your control. Sometimes you feel you have been wronged.
“All of us saw the ball hit that guy. Their returner (Jabrill) Peppers saw the ball hit that guy. Why else would a returner insert himself into that scrum trying to recover the ball unless he was sure the ball hit the guy?
“That is the approach we are taking as we move forward. Once a decision is made, there is nothing else you can do about it. You have to move on. You will miss the next opportunity to win the game in some way if you spend time crying over spilt milk. Why that play was not corrected, I have no idea. Ask New York. I would be interested to hear their comments regarding that play.”
Making the adjustment: The play by Davis on the punt return was one of many head’s up plays that he had on Sunday in his first game at free safety, a position he appears to have comfortably adjusted to.
“I thought he had some really good moments,” said Tomlin. “I liked the breakup down the middle of the field early. The clean breakup. It was a defenseless receiver type of play and he did a good job of not hitting the guy in the neck and head area, and not using his head. Things like that.
“He is new to the middle of the field. To see him make a play like that, and do so cleanly, is encouraging. He tracked the ball and had an interception that was negated by penalty. He broke up another big play on a play action on a third down and one down the field. I thought I saw some really good middle of the field things. It was a good start, but then again you can’t paint with a broad brush. We’ll learn more about ourselves as we step into more stadiums.”
PHOTOS: Karl's top pics - Steelers at Browns
Take a look at the best photos from the Week 1 matchup against the Browns. The Steelers and Browns tied in OT, 21-21.
Watt a difference: T.J. Watt came out of the gates hot to start off the 2018 season, recording four sacks and 11 tackles against the Browns. It’s a performance that Tomlin called out during his press conference as ‘a really good’ one, and it’s one that didn’t surprise him.
Watt made the switch from right outside linebacker to left outside linebacker this offseason, and it appears that the switch is working, but it’s still too early for Tomlin to deem it a success.
“I think time will tell,” said Tomlin. “I am not going to try and paint with a broad brush after one performance, but I will say I am not surprised that he had an impactful game. It was schematically set up for him to have an impact game, and he did.”