Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, said Tuesday on NFL Total Access, that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin should have been penalized when he impeded that path of Baltimore Ravens returner Jacoby Jones during a third quarter kickoff return.
“Anytime a player or a coach from the sideline is in this white area, that’s a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct,” Blandino said. “If they interfere with the play, it could be what’s called a ‘palpably unfair act.’ In that instance, the referee could basically penalize the team whatever he deems equitable, which could include giving the Ravens a touchdown. That’s not the case here, but certainly coach Tomlin was in the white. He should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.”
Tomlin, as many well know, forced Jones to slightly alter the direction of his return as he came up the left sideline when he stepped onto the field prior to jumping off of it. Jones wound up being tackled by cornerback Cortez Allen and the Ravens ensuing drive eventually stalled and resulted in a field goal.
On Tuesday, Tomlin called his actions “embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal and a blunder.” In addition, the head coach said that while the incident was not intentional, he expects to be disciplined by the league.
No word has come down from the league office as of yet, but it could by this time on Wednesday. While Tomlin is expected to be fined heavily, the Steelers are not expected to be docked a draft pick.
“I would hope they would understand that the actions were a personal blunder of mine, that they wouldn’t penalize the organization in response to it,” Tomlin said. “But I also understand, in terms of being the head coach of this organization, there are responsibilities that come with that.”