Mike Tomlin says penalties are 'a joke': 'I'm pissed about it'

PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin is no longer holding back on the way NFL games are officiated.

Tomlin, a member of the NFL's competition committee, made clear after the Pittsburgh Steelers' 41-17 victory Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons that he's not at all happy with the calls trending around the league.

Asked about linebacker Bud Dupree's two face mask penalties, Tomlin said the calls looked legitimate, then hinted many more were not.

"But some of the other stuff, man, is a joke," Tomlin said. "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."

Tomlin had stayed away from such strong comments in recent weeks. After a Week 3 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that featured four roughing-the-passer calls and 22 total penalties, Tomlin said he was concerned about the entertainment value of the game but wouldn't go further than that.

Sunday's contest featured 14 penalties, but Steelers linebackers T.J. Watt and Jon Bostic received flags for trying to make plays on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

With 8 minutes, 7 seconds in the second quarter, Watt -- who had three sacks on the day -- got a roughing-the-passer call for hitting Ryan low, but he clearly tried to move off Ryan as he approached the quarterback's lower body. Watt said he was surprised by the call as a result.

"I understand the rules. I'm not a dirty player," Watt said. "I tried to pull off him at the end. Whether the ref saw it or not, I understand why they call it. It was a low hit. But I tried to pull my arms off. We'll see if I get a check in the mail or not. ... It puts us in a bind because I don't know what else I can do. I couldn't have rolled off, then I risk hitting someone in the knees or hurting myself."

Bostic sacked Ryan with 1:39 to play in the third and got an unnecessary-roughness call as he got up from on top of Ryan. Bostic didn't seem to understand why the call was made.

Watt said defensive players must make adjustments in the current climate.

"You just have to be smart and understand the rules," Watt said. "I'm not a guy who's going to make any real change from what I say. So I have to understand the rules and play by them."