With the addition of an extra Thanksgiving Day football game, we now have three chances for NFL drama. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin didn't disappoint Thursday night. And while he may be the head coach, some are saying he should be credited with a team tackle.
After the Steelers had just scored with about six minutes left in the third quarter, Tomlin's team kicked off to the Baltimore Ravens trailing 7-13. Jacoby Jones received the kick, and in no time he had broken free and was heading down the left sideline for what appeared to be a touchdown.
That is until he saw Tomlin.
See, Tomlin was hanging out on the sideline with his back turned to Jones but watching the play on the JumboTron. But he wasn't just on the sideline, he actually appeared to be slightly on the field. He noticed it, and at the last minute he flinched (definitely putting his foot into the field of play) and then darted out of the way. Jones appeared to alter his direction to avoid a collision.
And that's when Jones was tackled at the last second by a Pittsburgh player. As he was getting up, Jones appeared to point at Tomlin.
NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth later noted Tomlin could have been flagged for sideline interference and Jones could have been awarded a touchdown if the officials deemed he had altered the play. But the officials didn't throw a flag, despite replay showing Tomlin had definitely stepped into the field of play.
Here's the play as it happened:
And here's the better replay, which also shows a sly grin from Tomlin:
As for the players, they joked about it, but did seem to think it was somewhat of an issue. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, for example, who was criticized for joking in the Super Bowl that someone should run on the field and tackle an opposing player during a kickoff, noted that Tomlin had stolen his move.
"That's exactly what he just did," Flacco said after the game. "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."
Jones did say it affected him, but still didn't put full blame on the coach.
"It broke my stride but I still shouldn't have got caught," he said. "If I was him, I'd do the same thing knowing I was back there."
Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh also weighed in.
"I was wondering, did they credit him with the tackle on that?" he asked. "I really don't know what to say about it other than stuff like that happens."
As for Tomlin, he defended himself saying he always watches kickoffs that way.
"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."
He went on to take responsibility.
"I was wrong, I accept responsibility for it," he added to reporters.
ESPN's Adam Schefter says it is "likely" Tomlin will be fined for the incident.
The Ravens went on to squeak out a win, 22-20.