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Mike Tomlin open to expanding scope of coaches' challenge system

1/7/2015

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, a member of the NFL competition committee since 2013, won't shy away from discussion about whether the league's challenge system should be amended.

NFL rules for on-field calls that coaches can contest came under question in the aftermath of the Dallas Cowboys' 24-20 win over the Detroit Lions in the wild-card round last Sunday. Officials picked up a flag after it looked like they were going to call pass interference against the Cowboys on a critical third-down play in the fourth quarter.

The current system did not allow Lions coach Jim Caldwell to use a challenge for an official review of the play. Officials also missed a holding call on the Cowboys' game-winning touchdown drive, the NFL said.

"I'm not opposed to expanding the capacity of coaches to challenge plays in an effort to get it right. As a coach I'd love that autonomy," Tomlin said. "I'm also in to being a part of the solution as opposed to sitting around and complaining about the current state, I have an opportunity to do that. I take a great deal of pride in that. I just don't want to sit on the side and be a complainer."

Tomlin said the coaches' challenge system -- and changes that can be made to improve it -- is a constant part of the dialogue among those on the NFL's competition committee.

“It's come up continually because we're not afraid to ask the uncomfortable questions and I think that it will come up again," Tomlin said. “Whether or not we choose to advance with the discussion is something that is an element of present circumstance and always will be. I imagine some of the things that transpired this season will change conversations we had a year ago.

"I think we all need to go into it with an open mind where it could go to safeguard and protect and enhance our game. I love the state of it. Can we be better? Certainly, but I want to be a part of the solution as opposed to someone who sits on the side and complains. That's not my style."