Nearly four months after Mike Tomlin’s controversial sideline incident in a game against the Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers learned Thursday that they will not be docked a draft pick by the NFL.
The head coach was fined $100,000 but not penalized for stepping onto the field of play and interfering as Jacoby Jones appeared on his way to a touchdown on a second-half kickoff return. Tomlin’s presence on the field caused Jones to cut inside where he was eventually caught from behind, but the Ravens still won 22-20 over their AFC North rivals on Thanksgiving night.
“I take full responsibility for my actions, and I apologize for causing negative attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization,” Tomlin said in a statement after the fine was announced in early December. “I accept the penalty that I received.”
In the days following the incident, the league left open the possibility of the Steelers’ 2014 draft compensation being impacted due to Tomlin’s behavior, especially if the four extra points the Ravens may have scored — they only converted a field goal on the drive — would have impacted tiebreaker scenarios for the playoff race.
Of course, the Steelers missed the playoffs after receiving no favors at the end of the Week 17 game between San Diego and Kansas City in which a penalty call was missed that would have given Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop another try at a game-winning field goal that would have knocked out the Chargers and landed 8-8 Pittsburgh in the AFC playoffs as the No. 6 seed. Instead, Pittsburgh joined Baltimore in missing the postseason in what many Ravens fans viewed as poetic justice from what had happened a month earlier.
At the very least, the incident provided the latest chapter in what’s been regarded by many as the best rivalry in the NFL over the last decade.
“It’s not my job to figure out intent. I’m glad we won the game,” said Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti about the incident at the end of the season. “My feelings for that move might have been a lot different [had we lost]. But, [it was] bizarre, weird, strange, unexplainable, and I think Mike was embarrassed about it. And I like Mike a lot. He’s a really good guy. His intent — that is completely in his court. He got fined for it, and again, he’s embarrassed as a competitor.”