Bears Linebacker Has Strong Words for ‘Inappropriate’ Official

Cassius Marsh Response

Getty Cassius Marsh #59 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a sack against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at Heinz Field on November 8, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Cassius Marsh nearly became a hero for the Chicago Bears on Monday night when sacked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a third-down stop late in the fourth quarter. Instead, the 29-year-old outside linebacker was pinned with one of the most questionable taunting calls of the 2021 season.

Marsh took advantage of the Bears’ tight pass coverage on a crucial third-and-8 attempt for the Steelers and sacked Roethlisberger for a loss of seven yards as he struggled to find an open receiver, seemingly getting Chicago the ball back with a little more than three minutes left to play and a three-point deficit to overcome.

Unfortunately, the trouble began when Marsh broke into celebration, quickly performing a roundhouse kick — which he had done repeatedly throughout his eight-season career in the NFL — before staring down the Steelers’ sideline without a word. Only once he was halfway back to his own sideline did official Tony Corrente reach for his flag and somehow decide Marsh’s actions warranted a taunting penalty.

“I think it’s pretty clear to everybody who saw it that I wasn’t taunting,” Marsh told reporters in Monday’s postgame, admitting he did not realize a penalty had been called against him until he was back on the sideline. “I’ve been doing the celebration my whole career, and it’s just sad to see stuff like that happen in a close game like that. It’s just rough, man. I don’t want to say too much because y’all know how it is.”

Marsh did, however, have one more thing to add about the “incredibly inappropriate” move that Corrente pulled before throwing the penalty flag for taunting.

The one thing that I will say is that, on my way to the sideline, I got hip-checked by the ref, and it’s pretty clear,” Marsh said. “If I were to do that to a ref or even touch a ref, we could get kicked out of the game or possibly suspended and fined, so I just think that was incredibly inappropriate.”

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Corrente Says Contact Did Not Contribute to Flag

Corrente didn’t shy away from his decision to call taunting on Marsh during Monday’s postgame and explained that it was, in fact, his staredown with the Steelers’ sideline that got him in trouble. He also mentioned how the NFL has made it a priority to crack down on instances of taunting throughout the first nine weeks of the 2021 season.

“First of all, keep in mind that taunting is a point of emphasis this year,” Corrente said in the postgame, via Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago. “And with that said, I saw the player, after he made a big play, run toward the bench area of the Pittsburgh Steelers and posture in such a way that I felt he was taunting them.”

Additionally, Corrente clarified that the contact made between him and Marsh just prior to him throwing the flag did not contribute to the penalty being called.

“No, not at all,” Corrente said. “I didn’t judge that as anything that I dealt with.”

Nagy Careful With Words on Marsh’s Penalty

Bears head coach Matt Nagy was more concerned about the overall volume of penalties called against his team than any one in particular on Monday night. After all, Chicago was called for 11 penalties that cost them a combined total of 110 yards while Pittsburgh drew just two for 15 yards throughout the game. But as far as the costly call against Marsh, Nagy said he couldn’t see the incident in question to fairly judge.

“I did not see it, so it’s hard for me to comment yet,” Nagy said. “I think we all understand it’s a very, very emotional game. It’s a different deal when you’re watching it on TV. It’s an emotional game. That’s not excusing anything, but we’ve got to be smart. And it’s also an emphasis this year, right? It’s a major emphasis, so knowing that it’s a major emphasis, we all as coaches and players have got to make sure you don’t even put it in the grey area. Don’t put it in that area. And you guys did a great job, you worked like hell to get off the field, so come off the field and celebrate with your guys.”

Whether the taunting penalty will prove costly to Marsh’s time with the Bears remains to be seen. On one hand, the call against him was crippling for Chicago and allowed Pittsburgh to add what would prove to be a pivotal field goal on the drive. The flipside, though, is that Marsh made an incredible play battling against the protection and finished with five tackles and a sack in his first career game for the Bears.

Marsh will revert back to the Bears’ practice squad on Tuesday, November 9, but could still prove useful in the weeks ahead depending on the status of star pass rusher Khalil Mack, who has missed two straight games with a foot injury. He served as the primary rotational piece behind Robert Quinn and Trevis Gipson against the Steelers with the Bears leaning heavily on his 92 games of experience to cover a massive loss.

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