Mike Tomlin's team will not be punished for his unusual mistake. (Gail Burton, AP)
The NFL will not strip the Pittsburgh Steelers of a draft pick as penalty for Mike Tomlin's bizarre Thanksgiving Night miscue in Baltimore. Tomlin earlier was fined $100,000 for standing on the field and nearly making contact with Baltimore kick returner Jacoby Jones.
The Steelers coach was facing the opposite direction of the play, his feet straddling the sideline, as Jones broke loose for what looked like a touchdown. At the last second, though, Jones cut back inside to avoid colliding with Tomlin and was tackled after a 73-yard return. The Ravens had to settle for a field goal on the ensuing possession.
"I always watch the returns on the Jumbotron to provide a better perspective," Tomlin explained, rather unconvincingly, after his team's 22-20 loss. "And I obviously lost my placement."
Tomlin later apologized in a statement, then went into further detail during a press conference the next week.
"My descriptions of my actions on that play are a lot of things: embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal, a blunder, being many of the things I’d use to describe it," he said. "I take full responsibility for my actions on that play. I acknowledge that my actions unfortunately became part of the play. I also embrace that as head coaches, we’re held to the highest standards of conduct, and I realize that that blunder fell woefully short of that expectation. In that vein, I embrace the responsibilities that come with my position and understand the repercussions from a blunder of that nature. I also understand that with my position comes the charge of preserving and protecting the integrity of the game of football. My biggest error was not realizing that that play jeopardized the integrity of the game from a perception standpoint."
The NFL announced Tomlin's initial punishment in early December, but the league left the door open to revisit the incident again prior to the draft.
A couple of screen shots from NBC's game broadcast show how close Jones came to running into Tomlin: