PITTSBURGH – The NFL’s greater emphasis on the provocative penalty has been a lightning rod for criticism during the first half of the season, but Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is an advocate of the rule and its enforcement.
“We’re just trying to clean up our game,” Tomlin, a member of the NFL’s competition committee, said Tuesday. “We accept the responsibility that comes with being the role models that we are.
“This game is played at the highest level, we understand that people who play at a lower level are watching us and often imitating the things we do and how we behave and, to a large extent, as a league competition committee specifically , there was a desire to improve. in that area. That has been expressed to our guys. “
The Steelers haven’t received a taunting penalty this season, but they benefited from a flag at the critical moment in a 29-27 win over the Chicago Bears on Monday night.
Linebacker Cassius Marsh, a former Steeler, sacked Ben Roethlisberger for a third down at the end of the fourth quarter. But after celebrating with a roundhouse kick, staring at the Steelers bench as he walked in their direction, and coming into contact with officer Tony Corrente, Marsh was singled out for taunting, a 15-yard penalty that gave the Steelers a first. attempt and eventually led to a 52-yard field goal from Chris Boswell.
“I think it was a bad time. It’s pretty clear to everyone who saw it that I wasn’t making fun of it,” Marsh said. “I’ve been celebrating my whole career. It’s sad to see things like this happen in a close game like that.”
In a group report, Corrente justified the flag and said his contact with Marsh did not influence the decision.
“First of all, keep in mind that teasing is a point of emphasis this year,” Corrente said in a group report. And with that said, I saw the player, after making a great play, run into the Pittsburgh Steelers bench area and take a stance in such a way that I felt like he was making fun of them.
“I did not judge [the contact] Like anything I dealt with That had nothing to do with it. It was the mocking aspect. “
Tomlin recognized that the call against Marsh was a learning opportunity for his players.
“They’ve shown us examples of that throughout the team’s development,” he said Tuesday. “And we continue to reinforce that as examples they appear negatively along the way, for us and for others.”
The Steelers head coach has been a vocal supporter of the controversial mocking penalty shootout this season, addressing for the first time before the Aug. 21 preseason game against the Lions.
“It’s nothing out of the ordinary,” Tomlin said of how he emphasizes applying the rule to his players. “That’s not something we subscribe to or dig into. Nothing out of the ordinary. We are grateful for the league’s willingness to crack down on part of that.”
And in September, Tomlin also voiced support for the rule. “I have focused on the stadiums that we are in, but all of us, as a man, recognized that that is something that needs to be addressed,” he said in September. “That’s why it’s a point of emphasis and that’s why none of us are surprised that the numbers increase. Players will adjust. They always do. They better adapt quickly, and specifically speaking of mine.”