Tag Archive | "Mike Tomlin"


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Ravens take step forward by capitalizing on good fortune

Posted on 02 October 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens didn’t save their season on Thursday night, but Justin Tucker’s 52-yard field goal to top Pittsburgh in overtime was the claw of a hammer loosening the nails of their coffin.

An 0-3 team is never fixed with a single win, but the 23-20 victory over the Steelers was a step in the right direction. Though far from exceptional, the Ravens were just good enough to capitalize on some luck as well as critical mistakes by their AFC North rival.

And that’s progress after a September from hell that resulted in the worst start in franchise history.

“We know where we’re at. We know what we have to overcome,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “You can’t get two [wins] until you get one. This one was a long time coming. We’re happy to get it.”

Baltimore’s biggest stroke of good fortune came last Sunday when Ben Roethlisberger injured his knee in St. Louis, leaving the quarterbacking duties to Mike Vick on Thursday. The 35-year-old backup may not have lost the game for Pittsburgh, but he did nothing to help his team over the final 30 minutes of play on Thursday night.

Amazingly, the Steelers coaching staff kept putting the ball in his hands as he twice failed to convert fourth downs in overtime — one as a runner and another on an errant throw to All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. How Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley didn’t give the ball to Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell — who became the first to eclipse the century mark on the ground against the Ravens defense in 30 games — in either situation is still a head-scratcher.

But the Ravens took advantage despite questionable fourth-down decisions of their own and injuries to Steve Smith and Michael Campanaro that left them with a receiving trio of Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown, and rookie Darren Waller down the stretch. Joe Flacco shook off two costly turnovers earlier in the game to do just enough to make it work.

A defense heavily criticized for its inability to get off the field this season made several key stops, including a three-and-out late in regulation that gave Flacco and the offense a chance to drive 45 yards in the final minute to set up Tucker to make the game-tying 42-yard field goal. The secondary remains a major concern, but a pair of critical tackles by safety Will Hill in overtime and solid play from newly-acquired cornerback Will Davis were positives on which to build for a struggling unit.

The most encouraging development from Thursday’s win was the revitalization of the Ravens’ ground attack as Justin Forsett rushed for a game-high 150 yards on 27 carries. Largely ineffective in the first three weeks, the running game resembled what we saw under Gary Kubiak a year ago. With injuries at receiver and tight end and a shortage of playmakers on which Flacco can rely, the Ravens’ best hope to turn their season around will be to move the ball consistently on the ground and they did just that against a good run defense.

After mistakes, questionable decisions, and close calls for both sides throughout the night, the outcome of the game ultimately came down to which team had the better kicker. While Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin lost all confidence in Josh Scobee after two misses in the final three minutes of regulation and chose to go for two fourth downs in Baltimore territory in overtime, the Ravens once again enjoyed having the best kicker in the NFL.

Tucker’s 52-yard game-winner with 5:08 left in overtime was the latest kick that will allow the free-agent-to-be to put his feet up on owner Steve Bisciotti’s desk in the same way Flacco did before being paid a few years ago. Since arriving as a rookie free agent in 2012, Tucker has done everything you could ask to become the league’s highest-paid kicker and the Ravens have no choice but to reward him sooner rather than later.

They got a close look at the opposite side of the spectrum with Scobee’s misses and the Steelers’ lack of confidence in him that led to strategic changes that the Ravens took advantage of.

“In this league, most games come down to three points,” Harbaugh said. “We have a great kicker.”

Having a great kicker — and the Steelers lacking one — was the ultimate difference between the Ravens being 1-3 as opposed to 0-4 at the end of the night on Thursday. Now, they’ll feel much better about themselves as they rest up and hope for a number of injuries to heal up over the weekend before coming home to play Cleveland a week from Sunday.

Thursday’s win provided a brief exhale, but the Ravens still have a long way to go to save their season.

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Part 2: Life On The Road, 30 Days of #GiveASpit and baseball (The journey)

Posted on 10 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio






“It ain’t never been done ‘cause we ain’t ever done it.

You’ve got to stop thinking so negative, son!”

Bo “Bandit” Darville

(as performed by Burt Reynolds)

Smokey & The Bandit



ONCE THE TRIP WAS FINALIZED and it was decided that I’d be flying more than originally planned, the only real concerns we had about the voyage were the not-so-remote chances of some catastrophic weather or travel issues that could derail the goal: getting to 30 MLB games in 30 days without interruption or too much drama.

We also couldn’t afford to get sick or injured. Carrying bags around the continent would suck with a bad back or a bum foot. As we learned in 2014, your health is everything!

Would all the planes arrive on time? Would weather cooperate? Clearly, a few poorly timed storms and the trip would be a mess. You can only truly plan so much and then fate determines the outcome.

And if you’ve listened to my radio show at any point over the past quarter of a century, you know that I despise rain delays. Nothing good happens when it rains in baseball.

I’ve dedicated some time on the radio over the past few months discussing the trip and some of the comedy, drama and sights I saw on my unique journey. Most of my guests along the route joined me afterward to talk about it on the radio.

I’ve also joked that no one prepared me for 30 straight days of airplanes, airports, hotels, stadiums, restaurants and their various brands of cheap toilet paper.

There were many statistics and “over and under” side bets I was making with my wife on the 30-30 trip regarding beer consumed, hot dogs inhaled, hangovers, bad hotel pillows, crappy showers, lost/forgotten items, etc. And as much as we prepared to travel light and packed as little as we’d need, we never thought we’d really succeed in our goal of never having to check a bag for 30 days. But, miraculously, I literally lived out of one suitcase, one backpack and carted a giant cotton swab “prop” in a long tube through every TSA checkpoint in the United States. (By the way, TSA Pre is a wonderful thing!)

Toward the end of the 30-day journey, most mornings I was torn by an extreme coffee situation. I’m a coffee nerd but it became a daily decision about whether to caffeinate before a flight at 5 a.m. (and not sleep) or afterward, in the next airport or city after a plane nap.

And there were several days at the end where I was extremely loopy and working on three or four hours of sleep and moving from hotel bed to shower to car to highway to parking garage to shuttle to TSA to gate to plane to seats to sleep…

Some days – like in Dallas, San Diego and Denver – I was running on fumes and took a few hours to sleep. In others, like Los Angeles and Milwaukee, we were full of energy and put almost 20,000 steps on my wife’s Fit Bit.

You can see my 30 ballpark rankings here at WNST.net but to be honest there are no truly awful experiences in Major League Baseball in regard to stadiums. And the beauty is all in the eye of the beholder. As I wrote in my preview blog for the rankings, many of these stadiums – or is it stadia? – provide a pretty similar experience. Whether it’s hot dog races, presidents or sausages, it’s all kinda the same thing. They all do “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in the 7th inning. They all bluster “God Bless America” every night. They all have “walk up” music for individual players.

Most have the most annoying item in modern sports – the P.A. or music or scoreboard imploring the crowd to “make some noise” with various cues and sounds. Nothing more cheeseball than that.

Every team has a team of people trying to make the “game day experience” something memorable. Every team wants to do something special when you come to the ballpark to lure you back and attract you as a lifer baseball fan.

Or at least they should.

But that part is a mixed bag – market to market, team to team, brand to brand.

Some teams always win. Some teams almost never win.

Some have vibrant fan bases. Many are a distant second citizen to the NFL.

Some teams treated me well. Some treated me like garbage.

Certain ballparks have a “wow” factor and some don’t. Some have good teams right now and some are in the midst of having awful seasons this summer so the experience wasn’t as rich. Seeing Toronto or the New York Mets in September would be far different than having seeing them in June. And seeing Houston and Kansas City this June was far different than anything they’ve seen in those ballparks in many Junes.

I had some “wow” moments and memories of my own on this tour and that’s what the rest of this essay is about: the stuff that’s worth telling you about.

Let’s start with the MVP of the 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit tour: artist Mike Ricigliano. The skinny dude with the funny hats has been drawing cartoons of me (and virtually everyone else in the sports world) in Baltimore for 30 years. I met him at The News American in 1984 on the weekend my son was born. He’s one of the enduring friends in my life and we’ve had a lot of laughs over the years. His son was originally responsible for dubbing me “Nasty Nestor.”

Here’e the story of the giant cotton swab – the enduring item from the 30-30 #GiveASpit tour.

On April 8th, I attended a Washington Capitals game with an NHL fan from Edmonton, Alberta named Rob Suggitt – a kindred spirit in hockey fandom.

While Caps Senior Manager of Community Relations Peter Robinson was giving Suggitt an incredible tour of the Verizon Center on the 27th night of his 30 rinks in 30 days mission for Make A Wish, I was telling them about my similarly arranged baseball tour.  Robinson said: “You should get a giant cotton swab and take it everywhere you go! That would help you get people on the registry.”

You know what?

He was right.

By request, Ricig made the fabulous cotton swab that started in the hands of Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson from Rush along with Randy Johnson the night before the tour started.


It was an instant hit at the United Center in Chicago that night.

Every stadium we swabbed in – except Minnesota – we had Ricig’s giant cotton swab leading the way to get folks to our booth to learn about the bone marrow registry and get on the list for There Goes My Hero and Delete Blood Cancer.

Some of the looks we got from fans were priceless. Dude in pink shirt waving giant cotton swab in stadium bowl! But it was a lightning rod to get folks to our table for education, swabbing and success.

It also caused some attention we didn’t want. We were pulled up by Comerica Park security in Detroit and forced to take it to the car. They thought it was a weapon. I told them it was a weapon to save lives.

The gate agent at the St. Louis airport forced us to check it on a one-hour flight to Milwaukee but “The Swab” made it successfully onto 21 other flights in 30 days on the road. I guess if you get on airplanes every morning with a third carry on that’s a giant Q Tip, eventually you’ll encounter the wicked witch of Southwest.

People have repeatedly asked me what the highlights of the tour were over the 32 days on the road. It’s impossible to recount everything we saw and every person who was kind to us but I hope this essay captures the essence of

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Webb primed to make 2014 season debut against Steelers

Posted on 10 September 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After nearly two weeks of practice to get himself in playing shape, Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb appears primed to make his 2014 season debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.

The sixth-year defensive back has been practicing fully since last week, but it was just a matter of shaking off rust and logging some field time after missing nearly all of training camp. Webb was stricken with back spasms on the second day of full-squad workouts on July 25 and did not return to practice until Aug. 30.

“I’m ready to get it going,” Webb said on Tuesday. “Who better than Pittsburgh? I’m ready. I’m feeling good. I’m just ready to get out there and get everything going and just play some football.”

Webb went through a pre-game workout prior to last Sunday’s season opener against Cincinnati, but the Ravens elected to hold him out with better thoughts toward Week 2 being on a short week. If fully healthy and ready, Webb will clearly start opposite Jimmy Smith in the base defense, but it remains to be seen how the Ravens might use him in the nickel package.

Over the course of his career, Webb has been more dynamic covering the slot and playing inside in the nickel package, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees will need to decide whether he wants to use Chykie Brown on the outside as the No. 3 corner or Asa Jackson, who is also better suited to play inside. Last year, Pees used Webb and former Raven Corey Graham both inside and outside, but the Ravens are far less settled in their secondary this season.

After Webb underwent sports hernia surgery early in the offseason and then missed all of training camp, the Steelers will surely test Webb’s ability in coverage as well as his stamina with so little practice time under his belt since spring organized team activities. And the veteran cornerback is fine with having a target on his back, expecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to throw in his direction early and often.

“I would, wouldn’t you?” Webb said. “That’s a good thing, because they don’t know how hurt I was. I hope they do [test me].”

The Baltimore defense certainly hopes Webb’s return will bring more stability to a secondary that allowed 301 passing yards in the Week 1 loss to the Bengals.

Suggs sends message to Tomlin

Never one to shy away from the theatrical side of the Baltimore-Pittsburgh rivalry, linebacker Terrell Suggs walked to the podium with a clear message for Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday.

Sporting a t-shirt (below) with the words “We Will Never Forget” and the image of Tomlin stepping on the field of play and forcing Jacoby Jones to change direction on a long kickoff return, Suggs made it obvious he hadn’t forgotten about the Steelers coach’s sideline tactics. Intentional or not, the move resulted in a $100,000 fine for Tomlin while pumping new life into a rivalry that’s seen major characters such as Ray Lewis, Hines Ward, Ed Reed, and James Harrison move on in recent years.

Photo courtesy of BaltimoreRavens.com

“We just wanted to let their head coach know, we will never forget what transpired here in this game last year,” Suggs said.

Tomlin talked with the Baltimore media via conference call and even had his own fun with what happened on Thanksgiving last year when asked if he expected to be on the kickoff team Thursday night.

“I won’t be,” said Tomlin as he laughed. “Tell Jacoby he’s safe.”

Tuesday’s injury report

All 53 players on the active roster practiced fully on Tuesday as Webb and right guard Marshal Yanda were the only Ravens players even listed on the injury report.

Yanda missed Monday’s walk-through while resting a blister on his foot, but he was a full participant along with Webb a day later.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh had seven players missing from practice on Tuesday, but four were listed for non-injury reasons. With a very short week, that’s a common practice for teams trying to rest as many veterans as possible.

FULL PARTICIPATION: CB Lardarius Webb (back), G Marshal Yanda (foot)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: RB Dri Archer (ankle/knee), DE Brett Keisel (NIR), TE Heath Miller (NIR), WR Lance Moore (groin), S Troy Polamalu (NIR), CB Ike Taylor (NIR), C Cody Wallace (finger)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Le’Veon Bell (NIR), WR Antonio Brown (NIR), WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder), CB Brice McCain (groin), DT Steve McLendon (stinger), QB Ben Roethlisberger (NIR), S Shamarko Thomas (Achilles/ankle), WR Markus Wheaton (NIR)

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Steelers won’t be docked draft pick for Tomlin sideline incident

Posted on 20 March 2014 by Luke Jones

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.”

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Wake me up when Goodell and NFL get it right with “Sideline-Gate”

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Our very own Thyrl Nelson beat me to it with THIS WELL-WRITTEN PIECE at WNST.net, so I’ll bow to him as being “first in” on the topic of whether or not the NFL is overreacting on “Sideline-Gate”.

Thyrl is right.

This is a major overreaction on the part of Roger Goodell and the NFL if, in fact, it turns out they take away a draft pick from the Pittsburgh Steelers as a result of Mike Tomlin stepping on the field during last Thursday’s game.

Fine? Sure. Make it $100,000 and give the money to the Orioles so they can sign a real baseball player.

Suspension?  OK.  Probably wouldn’t be that crazy to tell Tomlin to take a seat for a game or two.

Take away a draft pick?  Absolutely not.

Hell, why not just send him to jail for six months?  That’ll teach him.

The problem in Baltimore — as I see it, personally — is that this whole fiasco involves the Steelers.  As Thyrl noted, we’re all conditioned here in Charm City to hate all things Pittsburgh, so when something like what happened on Thursday takes place and it involves the Steelers, we’re foaming at the mouth before the clock strikes midnight.

If that would have been (I’m completely blanking out here…who DOES coach the Browns?) Rob Chudzinski on Thursday night, we wouldn’t give a flying-eff about it.  And you know that’s true, so please don’t tell me “yes we would!”.

I know this: If “Sideline-Gate” would have happened in yesterday’s Buffalo-Atlanta game, no one would care.  It would be a footnote on Deadspin…and that’s about it.

This was about the game being on national TV, Thursday night, Thanksgiving, Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh, etc.

My contention since the whole thing happened hasn’t changed at all.  What Tomlin did on Thursday night didn’t affect the outcome of the game.  And, while most of us (me, for sure) believe his side-step to the right was an intentional motion to try and disrupt Jacoby Jones’ path down the sideline, I also have to admit – for sure – that we really don’t know the truth.  We can only suspect.

I’ll reiterate one more time — what Mike Tomlin did was wrong.  It obviously SHOULD have been penalized on the spot.  It should result in some sort of penalty once the league has come up with all the facts as they see them.  But, that penalty should be consistent with any other penalty that comes with an infraction that DIDN’T CHANGE THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME.

Yes, Tomlin’s move on Thursday night COULD have changed the outcome, sure.  And, so could poisoning the other team’s sports drink.  What would the penalty be, let’s say, if two equipment managers for (team X) were caught on camera or hidden mic discussing poisoning the other team’s sports drink during halftime — only to have it confirmed later on that it didn’t actually happen?

There’s a huge difference between something that COULD have changed the outcome of the game and something that actually DID change the outcome.

Oh, and please don’t talk to me about gambling and the point-spread and all of that other stuff.  The league itself is only concerned with the result of the football game.  Only us degenerate gamblers are worried about the “final score” of the game.

By the way, where’s the outrage from the league and fans on the referee crew from Thursday night?  Talk about “influencing the outcome”…what were those clowns watching as Tomlin pulled his silly stunt?  No flag?  Nothing?  Useless…all of them.

The refs SHOULD have gathered after Jacoby Jones was tackled and said to themselves, “OK, let’s make sure we handle this right. The rules allow for us to grant Baltimore a touchdown.  And we can also kick Tomlin out of the game if we feel it was that egregious.”

They then could have made a decision based on the rule book.  And, if they WOULD have granted Baltimore a TD (possibly fair) and kicked Tomlin out of the game (possibly fair), the whole thing wouldn’t be an issue of this magnitude five days later.

The NFL has done a GREAT job of making the fans forget that their referee crew COMPLETELY botched the events of Thursday night.

So, Thryl, congratulations on beating me to the punch.

You’re right, this talk about taking away a draft pick from the Steelers is insanely out-of-bounds.

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The 15-7-0 is so good you’d forfeit every draft pick to get it

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

This is the 13th full edition of The 15-7-0 this season. Similarly, if you walk to your car right now and spend an hour listening to your favorite Christmas music radio station, you’ll hear “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey 13 times.

15 Positive Observations…

1. Thanks for your help, kind Cincinnati Bengals! Also, thanks for nothing you stupid Cincinnati Bengal jerks!

Here’s a GIF to prove the game happened.

Now here’s one of those new Amazon drones because they’re WAAAAY more interesting.

2. A lot of people are calling the end of Auburn-Alabama the greatest finish in the history of football, but that’s only because they missed my family’s annual Thanksgiving game where the old guys called the “Double-reverse-fake-the-handoff-to-grandpa-then-stop-the-game-for-a-minute-so-the-young-guys-can-help-grandpa-back-up-because-he-hurt-his-hip-then-start-the-game-back-up-without-telling-the-kids-anything-and-bounce-the-ball-off-the-four-year-old’s-head-and-play-monkey-in-the-middle-for-a-few-minutes-to-try-to-tire-the-kids-out-so-that-they-don’t-break-everything-in-the-house-after-dinner-in-a-crazed-rage-then-throw-the-ball-forward-three-straight-times-and-tell-the-kids-there’s-a-new-rule-that-allows-you-to-do-that-despite-how-much-they-protest-and-the-fact-that-you know-they’ve-played-so-much-Madden-football-that-they-know-the-rules-both-better-than-you-and-hell-they-probably-know-the-rules-better-than-John-Madden-then-halfway-through-the-play-tell-your-nine-year-old-niece-she’s-switching-sides-and-is-on-the-old-guys’-team-now-so-that-she-can-catch-the-ball-and-after-you-go-pick-her-up-and-run-her-the-length-of-the-field-the-other-way-on-your-back-because-she-ran-the-wrong-way-but-then-you-celebrate-her-scoring-the-winning-touchdown-and-let-her-rub-it-in-the-faces-of-the-boys-until-Christmas-and-then-you-have-to-do-the-whole-thing-over-again-because-Aunt-Joan-didn’t-have-her-camera-on-Split-Y-Banana” and ran it to perfection to win the game. Our play was WAY better.

There is so much awesome to share from Chris Davis’ magical return, but I don’t think anything will be better than this.

How amazing was this game? A 99 yard TD might not have made the Top 3 plays.

Did someone freaking hug these guys?

This picture remains mesmerizing.

I hope no one in Auburn needs to wipe this week.

Some of the celebrations were a bit…ummm…strange.

Here’s a note from Takeo Spikes.

3. While I understand Maryland’s excitement in beating NC State in their final ever ACC game, was it COMPLETELY necessary for them to fax over pictures of Gary Williams’ ass to Debbie Yow’s office as a parting gift?

My thoughts on the finale?

Now here’s a video because I’ve got nothing else to say.

4. After someone loses Monday night’s game, I will almost certainly be moving the Carolina Panthers to #2 in my weekly power rankings. What a crazy year. I’d suggest things were so crazy that the next thing we’d see is the Orioles signing a good player-but I realize there are limits to the insanity.

I don’t think one of these nicknames is going to stick for Ron Rivera.

I assume Mike Glennon gets credited with a forced fumble for this, right?

Wrong superhero, Cam.

5. Nick Foles has now thrown 19 touchdowns this season without an interception. For some reason I don’t think “The November Flacco” is going to catch on as a nickname as well as it should.

Sweet play, football teams.

Riley Cooper, however.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Tomlin Aftermath Getting Carried Away

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Thyrl Nelson


I get that as a Ravens fan I’m supposed to hate all things Pittsburgh. I get that I’m supposed to see the black and yellow as something sinister, and that I am supposed to celebrate any hardship that should fall the Steelers way. That said, the talk of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin as a diabolical genius whose actions should merit a suspension or loss of draft picks is kind of lost on me.


Maybe it’s because the Ravens won the game, but I have a hard time feeling like what happened between Mike Tomlin and Jacoby Jones on Thursday night is anything more than a humorous aside and an interesting chapter in what was otherwise a classic renewal of the NFL’s best rivalry.

Yes Tomlin deserves to be punished…and certainly he will be. But this isn’t Spy-gate or Bounty-gate or any other gate for that matter. At worst – at absolute worst – it was an ill-conceived, spur of the moment reaction worthy of punishment. At best (and more likely in my opinion) it’s a strange, unusual, and rather fortunate happenstance for the Steelers, still worthy of punishment, in a game that they ultimately lost anyway.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions on what they saw on Thursday, but if this was the diabolical scheme that many have made it out to be, Tomlin is as prescient and calculated as his team was out of sorts and bumbling on that play. It’s impossible for me to believe that Tomlin intentionally turned his back to the field for when (or if just in case) his team let Jones slip past their kick coverage, yet somehow funneled him precisely to the coach’s location. It’s impossible to fathom, in real time, that Tomlin spotted a spontaneous opportunity unfolding right behind him and cooked up a scheme, not to stop or run into Jones, but to slow him up just enough to be caught by the tackler in pursuit. It sure looks dubious in slow motion, but the play didn’t happen in slow motion, it happened in the blink of an eye.

Intent should have no bearing on punishment, and there will be punishment. But suspensions and losses of draft picks have been reserved for those teams and coaches that intentionally and premeditatedly tried to cheat the system. They have also been levied in cases where there was no precedent, or specific line of punishment prescribed beforehand. What happened on Thursday was neither of those things.

While there may be no better (or more effective) example of interference coming from the sideline in an NFL game, there have been similar incidents; and there are rules to govern these incidents. As Ravens fans we all learned these rules when Joe Flacco made the suggestion during the Super Bowl that if Ted Ginn were to break free on the game’s final kickoff that someone come off the sideline and make the tackle. In such situations, an official can award the touchdown if he feels it’s merited.

Whether or not Jones could have scored if not for Tomlin’s interference isn’t even clear in this situation, but should have been left up to the discretion of the officials. Of course in order to make such a decision, an official would have actually had to throw a flag, and on Thursday none did. That’s the bigger problem as far as the NFL is concerned, that an official was in position not only to make the call, but to have to make the call (Tomlin at one point was directly between Jones and the official) and he didn’t.

Unless the NFL somehow comes up with evidence that Tomlin masterminded the whole thing, either before the play or while the play was in progress, it’s impossible to say definitively what the coach was thinking, or whether or not Jones would have scored anyway. Many have claimed to “know” the answers to those questions, but they’re simply guessing, they can’t know for sure. So a fine is in order and forthcoming, and the greatest rivalry in the NFL has another strange and sordid chapter.

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Tomlin, Steelers reportedly facing fines, potential draft pick loss

Posted on 01 December 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Following Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s unpenalized sideline interference of Jacoby Jones during the Ravens’ 22-20 win on Thursday night, the NFL appears to be on the verge of cracking down on the head coach and the organization.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Tomlin and the Steelers are facing heavy fines and the league could even go as far as stripping the organization of a 2014 late-round draft pick because of the coach’s questionable sideline footwork during Jones’ kickoff return in the third quarter. Jones was forced to slightly change direction while running down the sideline to avoid Tomlin, a move that likely aided Cortez Allen in running down the Pro Bowl return specialist from behind.

The 73-yard kickoff return set up the Ravens offense at the Pittsburgh 27, but Baltimore eventually settled for a field goal.

Recently appointed to the league’s prestigious competition committee, Tomlin clearly ventured far too close to the field during the long kickoff return, but the difficulty in determining whether it was intentional would make the forfeiture of a draft pick seem unlikely as the league is expected to rule on the matter as early as Monday. Numerous Ravens players were critical of the Steelers coach’s behavior, and a video shot of Tomlin smiling on the stadium video board didn’t exactly help his case with any observers.

Tomlin said after the game that he lost awareness of his body positioning as he watched the long kick return on the M&T Bank Stadium video board but that any interference with the play wasn’t intentional.

“It was wrong and I take responsibility for it,” Tomlin said.

The league could look to the 2010 incident of Jets assistant Sal Alosi interfering with a Miami Dolphins player on the sideline for precedent as New York was fined $100,000 for his actions. Alosi was fined $25,000 by the Jets and suspended for the remainder of that season before leaving the organization. However, this type of action taken by a head coach is a far more serious matter as the league wants to send a message that questionable sideline decorum — intentional or not — will not be tolerated.

If the Ravens had lost the game, the league would have had an even bigger problem on its hands considering how unhappy Baltimore was about Tomlin’s behavior even in victory.

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The Tomlin sideline jig — big deal…or not? I’ll tell you why it’s “not”

Posted on 29 November 2013 by Drew Forrester

OK, I’ll go ahead and make my obligatory comment on Mike Tomlin and “Sideline-Gate” from Thursday night’s 22-20 Ravens win over Pittsburgh.

I don’t quite see it as the big deal that lots of folks in town are making it out to be.

Now — admittedly — as I tweeted during the game from the M&T Bank Stadium press box, had Pittsburgh somehow finagled their way to a comeback win last night, the Tomlin “play” would have been all anyone in the country was talking about today.

Thankfully, for a lot of reasons, it didn’t happen that way.

That said now, I can go back to my reaction on the whole thing:  It’s pretty much…………”meh”.


Because players intentionally violate the rules ALL THE TIME in the NFL.  Sometimes they’re penalized, sometimes they’re not.

In fact, earlier in the game, Pittsburgh’s supposed all-world cornerback Ike Taylor stopped an almost sure-fire touchdown by grabbing Torrey Smith’s arm and shoulder as #82 whizzed by him on a sharply run stop-and-go route down the same sideline of the Tomlin-quick-step.

On that occasion, actually, the referee threw a penalty flag on Taylor, so he was cited for his infraction.  But, smartly on Taylor’s part, the damage had been done.  His move kept the Ravens from scoring a touchdown.  The ensuing Justin Tucker field goal on the series resulted in the proverbial four-point swing.

How is Ike Taylor intentionally grabbing Torrey Smith to keep him from catching a touchdown pass any different than what Tomlin did?

To me, it’s not.

The most obvious part of the whole situation is that Tomlin’s dancing effort didn’t actually affect the result of the game.  Sure, it COULD have, but it didn’t.  Only in the disdain-filled Steelers-Ravens rivalry could a scene that didn’t alter the outcome be this discussed and debated.

Now, if you want to throw in a comment or two about how Mike Tomlin is the coach and, therefore, has a higher moral standard to uphold, I’d buy a few shares of stock in that argument.

Tomlin – or any coach in the league – shouldn’t be involved in a play like the one on Thursday night.

He’ll get fined by the NFL and rightfully so.

The REAL blame from Thursday’s “Sideline-Gate” should go to the referee crew.  There already IS a rule in place to cover things like the coaching stepping out on the field.  It’s called “a 15 yard penalty”.  The refs just didn’t apply the rules correctly on Thanksgiving night.

Some folks are clamoring for a Tomlin suspension — and I think that’s mainly home cooking from rabid Ravens fans who see black and yellow and turn into mean old wet hens during a late Saturday afternoon summer storm.

What Tomlin did was wrong.

And, WITHOUT QUESTION, the league needs to come up with a more penalizing rule – quickly – to strongly discourage any coach from being involved in a play like that in the future.  Should it result in an immediate ejection?  Maybe.  How about an automatic penalty of half the distance to the goal-line for any coach who steps on the sideline stripe?  Sure, perhaps.

Frankly, the referee TEN FEET BEHIND Tomlin on the sideline should have penalized him on the spot.

But, let’s not make it out to be anything other than it was:  An attempt to gain an edge.  And, in the end, it didn’t work because his team lost.

It’s the same thing, in my eyes, as Corey Graham clutching the left arm of Antonio Brown in the 4th quarter on a sideline throw and then NOT having a penalty flag thrown on the play.

It’s just football.

To borrow an old phrase familiar to the likes of Kentucky basketball, “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.”

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Jacoby Jones was thinking: “Is Tomlin going to move?”

Posted on 29 November 2013 by WNSTV

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