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’.”