The NFL will review the problems involving the Steelers' headset communications from Thursday night's game against the host Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
The Steelers' coaches were unable to communicate with one another through most of the first quarter of the game, which the Patriots won, 28-21. Instead of being able to speak to one another, the Steelers were listening to the Patriots' radio broadcast of the game. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin complained about the problem after the game, and suggested this issue was nothing new at Patriots home games.
"That's always the case," he said.
When asked to clarify whether he meant Gillette Stadium, Tomlin replied, "Yes."
NFL spokesman Michael Signora said on Friday morning that the league will look into the matter, although Signora suggested headset communication problems are not limited to the Patriots, and that the league routinely reviews such matters.
"Technological and stadium infrastructure issues of this type happen at many stadiums around the league," Signora said. "Whenever there are issues of this nature, we do a thorough review."
Some teams have complained over the years that their headsets have been subjected to intermittent interruptions at Gillette Stadium. That includes former Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, who said after a 2005 playoff loss in Foxborough that the team's headsets at one point "mysteriously malfunctioned."
Other coaches who have voiced concerns include former Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz in 2006 and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who agreed with Martz's assessment.
According to the NFL's Game Operations Manual, the coaches' communications equipment, including the headsets, is provided by the NFL for both clubs' use on game day. The home team is responsible for the installation and maintenance of that equipment. On game day, all communications personnel from both teams are required to work with NFL communications to make sure the wireless equipment is free of interference. If there are any problems, they must be addressed quickly.
The Steelers notified league officials at the game about the headset malfunction, and in the time it took for the problem to be resolved, the Patriots' headsets were turned off so the team did not gain a competitive advantage.
"We had a lot of problems," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "We had to switch headphones a couple times. The communication system wasn't very good . . . We almost had to switch helmets with Brady there at the end. Couldn't get the plays in to him. It was a problem all night."
Belichick said he wasn't sure why the problems occurred.
"That's not really a very strong area for me is technology," he said.