Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 for stepping onto the field during Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return Thanksgiving night against the Baltimore Ravens. Jones had to slightly veer his track and was tackled at the Steelers 27-yard line.
Much debate has centered on whether Tomlin intentionally stepped onto the field of play. If true, he’s not nearly as smart as I thought he was. Coaches use all kinds of subterfuge to gain an advantage, from stealing signs to spying on practices. But what Tomlin did was under the biggest spotlight possible. Every American football fan outside Texas and Mississippi saw it.
Now the NFL is threatening the Steelers with a loss of a draft pick. OK. So where is the punishment for the officiating crew that didn’t throw a flag. Coaches are prohibited from coming on the field and/or interfering with play. This was an easy call. And the decision should not have been a 15-yard penalty. It should have been a touchdown. Jones might have been caught anyway, but who cares? He had the break on the Steelers, and he has change his gallop because of a coach? That’s absurd.
Officials have the discretion of awarding a touchdown when outside forces impede upon the game. That’s what Tomlin did. Fine him? OK, what do I care? Take a draft pick from the Steelers? That seems silly. You have people officiating the game for these very things. Have them start officiating. I know all the striped shirts are busy looking for an illegal hit penalty or a pass interference flag to throw.
But watch the game, and you’ll see all kinds of things.
Texans at Jaguars: Houston 30-21. Why the Texans? Because they’re not supposed to win this one. So they will, in one of the worst nationally-televised games in history.
Colts at Bengals: Cincinnati 23-21. The two AFC teams that will host first-round playoff games. Of the two, the Bengals are playing much better.
Falcons at Packers: Green Bay 22-17. The Packers were 5-2 when Aaron Rodgers went down. Now they’re 5-6-1 and just trying to hang on.
Browns at Patriots: New England 38-0. The plagues of Egypt rain down upon Cleveland quarterbacks.
Raiders at Jetropolitans: Oakland 23-10. Seems like 15 minutes ago, Jets fans were talking seriously about catching the Patriots.
Lions at Eagles: Philadelphia 27-24. Nick Foles might make the Pro Bowl. And Detroit might squander the NFC North.
Dolphins at Steelers: Pittsburgh 26-20. The Steelers’ last stand at making the playoffs in this crazy year.
Bills at Buccaneers: Tampa Bay 17-16. You know, if the NFL ever considers contraction the way the NBA and MLB have, Buffalo is choice No. 1.
Chiefs at Redskins: Washington 24-20. Kansas City has lost three straight, has lost its pass rush and might soon lose its grip on a magical year.
Vikings at Ravens: Baltimore 25-17. The Ravens are in the driver’s seat for the AFC’s second wild-card spot. It always helps to know what you’re doing.
Titans at Broncos: Denver 33-14. Tennessee is like the employee who retires after 30 years, having successfully avoided any contact with management. Lays low, makes no waves, gets a paycheck and goes home. Yep, that’s about the Titans.
Rams at Cardinals: Arizona 27-20. I hope this game’s not on TV here. I always get confused when St. Louis’ current team plays St. Louis’ former team.
Giants at Chargers: New York 23-20. What? You thought I was jumping from the G-Men Bandwagon now?
Seahawks at 49ers: San Francisco 27-17. Irrelevant game. The 49ers can’t get homefield away from Seattle, and that’s all that really matters.
Panthers at Saints: New Orleans 31-10. I know this is sacrilege, but I’m really no big believer in Carolina.
Cowboys at Bears: Chicago 24-20. It’s possible that Dallas has the huge coaching edge here. Who would have thought?
Last week: 12-4. Season: 111-66-1.