Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t delve into the details surrounding wide receiver Diontae Johnson’s response to Jaylen Warren’s fumble during the Steelers’ triumph over the Bengals. However, Tomlin acknowledged that Johnson, in his fifth year, must enhance his emotional control on the field.
“We need to take care of the ball,” stated Tomlin in his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “It’s crucial for our success, and Jaylen has to improve in that area. Diontae must not let the emotions from the previous play impact the next one, but I’ll let him address that with you and his teammates. I won’t add more commentary; plays like that are best explained by those directly involved.”
Johnson explained his actions after the game, stating, “I just didn’t see it. I was focused on my role at that time, whether it was blocking or something else.”
Prior to Warren’s fumble, Johnson’s potential touchdown was nullified when he couldn’t secure a contested catch in bounds despite taking three steps in the end zone. Tomlin, without reviewing a replay, chose not to challenge the ruling.
“The officials’ initial ruling was definitive, and I lost sight of it,” Tomlin said about the end zone incompletion. “There were people between me and him, and I couldn’t count steps. We didn’t get another look at it in-stadium, and we didn’t get a quick enough look from the top. Sometimes, that happens on the road, but things balance out in the grand scheme, whether at home or away.”
Warren’s subsequent fumble thwarted the Steelers’ first red zone trip against the Bengals. Overall, the team made four red zone visits but scored only one touchdown, ranking 28th in red zone conversion at 44%.
Despite amassing over 400 offensive yards against the Bengals, the Steelers struggled to convert them into points, scoring below their season average with 16 points. A week earlier, Tomlin had emphasized the need for more touchdowns when parting ways with offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
“I just want to see points,” Tomlin asserted. “I want to engineer victory more smoothly, and points accomplish that.”
The 16-10 victory marked the Steelers’ seventh one-score win of the season, with eight games decided by seven or fewer points. However, Tomlin played down the low points output on Tuesday, offering a concise response when asked about turning yards into points.
“More of the same, more work, more execution,” he stated. “We have a week to address it, and I’m eager to get the group in tomorrow and work on it.”