The season has been a bust for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but you’d like to hope Coach Mike Tomlin wouldn’t consider purposely interfering with a play in order to help his struggling squad.
During the Steelers’ 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving night, Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones appeared to be on his way to a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown before a close encounter with Tomlin on the sideline led to him immediately being tackled at the Pittsburgh 27-yard line.
Replays showed Tomlin standing inches from the field of play, facing away from the action, as Jones approached him. Tomlin then looks over his shoulder and jumps out of way, briefly stepping onto the field of play with his right foot, just as Jones sprints by. Jones changes direction slightly as he passes Tomlin, moving away from the sideline just as Pittsburgh’s Cortez Allen tackles him.
No penalty was called on Tomlin on the play, but it’s obvious that he affected Jones during his return. Tomlin was caught smiling on camera after the play.
After the game, Tomlin told reporters he simply lost track of where he was on the sideline.
“I always watch the returns on the JumboTron; it provides a better perspective for me,” Tomlin told the Baltimore Sun. “I lost my placement as he broke free and saw at the last second how close I was to the field of play.
“... I do it quite often, like everybody else in the National Football League. I was wrong, I accept responsibility.”
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who surprised some when he “joked” about possibly interfering from the sideline on a kickoff return during the Super Bowl, said Tomlin knew what he was doing.
“I took some flak kind of joking around at the Super Bowl saying that I was going to run out onto the field and tackle somebody if this guy breaks it,” Flacco told the Sun. “That’s exactly what [Tomlin] just did. He was looking at the big screen the whole entire time. He knew where he was. He knew where Jacoby was. He pulled my move.”
It’s debatable as to whether Jones would have made it to the end zone, but it’ll be incredible if Tomlin isn’t fined by the NFL.