Bears’ Cassius Marsh Calls Out Ref For ‘Inappropriate’ Hip-Check

Cassius Marsh sack celebration

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Cassius Marsh of the Chicago Bears celebrates a sack against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 8, 2021.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 29-27 victory over the Bears on Monday Night Football featured a handful of questionable calls that went against Chicago. Not to mention at least one infraction committed by the Steelers that went unpunished, that being a missed roughing the passer penalty on second-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith. One of the most controversial calls involved Bears edge rusher Cassius Marsh, who sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a seven-yard loss on a critical third-down play with 3:34 left in the game.

But instead of the Bears getting the ball back, Marsh followed up his spinning kick sack celebration by moving in the direction of—and then staring down—the Steelers sideline. That prompted referee Tony Corrente to flag Marsh for taunting, which allowed Pittsburgh to retain possession and ultimately kick a field goal for a 26-20 lead.

After the game, Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago interviewed Corrente, who explained his decision as follows:

“First of all, keep in mind that taunting is a point of emphasis this year. 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.”

Asked about the penalty after the game, Marsh didn’t address the fact that he moved in the direction of the Steelers bench and “postured.”

“I think that that one was just bad timing,” Marsh told reporters. “I think it was pretty clear to everybody who saw it that I wasn’t taunting. I’ve been doing that 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.”

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Cassius Marsh: ‘I Got Hip-Checked by the Ref’

Instead, Marsh tried to highlight the contact that occurred between him and Corrente as Marsh was making his way back to Chicago’s bench.

“On my way to the sideline, I got hip-checked by the ref. It’s pretty clear,” Marsh said. “If I were to do that to the ref or even touch the ref, we’d get kicked out of the game and possibly suspended and fined. I just think that that was incredibly inappropriate.”

“It’s upsetting,” Marsh added. “I just think that it’s unfair that he has the ability to do that with no consequence.”

Marsh: No Animosity Toward Steelers

But the fact that he got flagged for taunting prompted a reporter to ask Marsh if he had any animosity towards the Steelers. You may recall that Marsh played one game for the Steelers last season, having been signed off of the practice squad of the Indianapolis Colts in the wake of Bud Dupree’s season-ending ACL injury in December 2020. He went on to re-sign with Pittsburgh as an unrestricted free agent in March 2021, but was released during the final round of cuts on August 31, having lost his roster spot to former undrafted free agent Jamir Jones,

“No,” he said. “Things happen in the NFL. It’s a business. I have a lot of love for the staff and players there and I enjoyed my time with the organization. No bad blood, I wish them nothing but the best,” he concluded, which stands in stark contrast to his feelings about the New England Patriots.

Chicago signed Marsh to its practice squad five days before playing the Steelers, then elevated him to the active roster for the game.

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