The NFL is fortunate the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in a thrilling game on Thursday night. Otherwise, there would be major controversy surrounding whether or not Mike Tomlin prevented Jacoby Jones from scoring a touchdown and should have been penalized.
Jones ripped off a 73-yard kick return in the third quarter that helped set up a field goal to give the Ravens a 16-7 lead. If you watch a replay of the return, you can clearly see that Tomlin was standing in the field of play as Jones jetted up the sideline. It’s unclear if Tomlin’s interference was the reason Steelers defensive back Cortez Allen was able to catch Jones from behind, but it appeared that Jones had to slightly alter his route to avoid Tomlin.
Joe Flacco thought Tomlin knew exactly what he was doing.
“That’s exactly what he just did,” Flacco said after the game, via ESPN.com. “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.”
Flacco was referring to his joke in the Super Bowl about how his teammates should have tackled kick returned Tedd Ginn Jr. from the sideline to prevent a game-winning touchdown. Tomlin, of course, said the mistake was innocent.
“I always watch the returns on the JumboTron. It provides better perspective for me,” he said. “I lost my placement as he broke free and saw at the last second how close I was to the field of play.”
At the very least, Tomlin should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. That would have been a 15-yard penalty and given the Ravens even better field position. However, Pro Football Talk cited a league source who claimed officials have the right to do whatever they deem to be equitable if a player or coach on the sideline interferes with a play. That could even mean awarding a touchdown if the official thought the interference prevented one.
Again, the league will be breathing a sigh of relief that Baltimore won once it takes a look at the replay. It’s obvious a big call was missed, as the official even had to run around Tomlin to keep up with the play.
GIF via @cjzero