Whether or not the NFL believes Mike Tomlin's claim that he did not intend to interfere with Jacoby Jones' kick return, the league may hand down substantial punishments to the Steelers organization for the incident. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that Pittsburgh may have to forfeit a draft pick and is "likely" to face "stiff financial penalties".
Jones appeared headed to the end zone for a touchdown when he cut back off the sideline to avoid Tomlin, who for some reason was standing on the edge of the field of play. Pittsburgh's Cortez Allen then tackled Jones and 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 said after Pittsburgh’s 22-20 loss, "and I obviously lost my placement."
The Ravens were not quite convinced by that explanation.
“I took some flak kind of joking around at the Super Bowl saying that I was going to run out onto the field and tackle somebody if this guy breaks it," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said, referencing San Francisco's Super Bowl-ending attempt to score on a punt return. "I caught some flak for that. That's exactly what he just did. 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."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh jokingly asked in his press conference if Tomlin had been credited for a tackle on the play. And Jones recalled: "As soon as I hit the hole, I started to run down the sideline, and I looked at him and [thought], ‘Is he gonna move?’"