Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Opens up on ‘$100K Mistake’ Against the Ravens

Getty Steelers HC Mike Tomlin reacts to a penalty flag versus Ravens.

“Embarrassing, inexcusable and illegal” is how Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin initially described the costly blunder during a 2013 Thanksgiving night matchup versus the Baltimore Ravens.

In Week 13, the 5-6 Steelers visited the 5-6 Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, and the game was not favoring Pittsburgh.

Down 10-0, Steelers’ Shaun Suisham kicked off to Jacoby Jones, who undoubtedly envisioned taking it all the way. And he almost did.

But special teamer Cortez Allen put a stop to the score — with a little help from Mike Tomlin.

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He Could Go All the …

As Jacoby Jones was tearing down the Pittsburgh Steelers sideline, Mike Tomlin appeared to interfere with the play.

Just as the broadcast announcer said, “He could go all the…,” Jones veered slightly outside to avoid colliding with Tomlin, who was jumping out of the way to dodge the runner. Allen tackled Jones at the 27-yard line, 11 yards past where the interference occurred. Instead of six points, the Ravens’ drive ended with a field goal.

For Tomlin, it was merely a case of being disoriented at the visitor’s stadium. He spoke candidly about the incident on the Pivot Podcast after co-host Channing Crowder asked the Steelers head coach whether it was intentional.

“I told Jacoby for a long period of time I didn’t care whether or not the story got told,” Tomlin shared. “People that know me and know the level of respect that I have for the game and the men that play it, then I don’t feel the need to explain it to them. And those that don’t know me, I just assume they think the worst of me. I don’t care.”

Tomlin explained that his routine is to watch “the contour of the coverage unit and the kick return unit come together” on the JumboTron.

“I stand on the line; I watch the ball get kicked. I make sure that we’re not offsides. And then I watched the JumboTron which was behind our kick unit. I’m looking up at the contour of the deal, and somebody falls down. And so when somebody fell down, I almost like leaned in on the JumboTron. And then I saw a double team block, and I said, ‘Oh no.’ And so I’m walking at the JumboTron like I’m watching a horror movie, like, ‘Oh no. Oh, that’s bad.'”

Danger Ahead

Mike Tomlin justified the confusion. “What people don’t talk about is the stuff that’s on the JumboTron is backward; it’s flipped.”

“And so I’m watching the JumboTron. It looks like he’s running up the right (Ravens) sideline, but actually, he’s coming up our sideline, so I’m processing it. In my mind, I’m thinking he’s going up their sideline because the JumboTron is backward.”

Tomlin said he got out of the way when he finally realized what was happening.

“Once the ball got kicked, I’m locked in on the JumboTron, and I’m watching the structure of it break down, and it has got my attention. I’m walking at (the screen), and I’m looking, and I didn’t realize I was in danger until I saw myself. Hey dude, no joke. I saw myself on the JumboTron. I dodged Jacoby because I saw myself. I never saw him. I was like, ‘Oh.’ And he went by me. I came into the JumboTron, but it did make him step inside. And that gave a better angle for the tackle; certainly, I don’t deny that, but there’s a mistake that … I paid a hundred thousand dollars for that mistake.”

The NFL came down hard on Tomlin with a $100,000 fine for sideline interference.

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